Two-thirds of Americans say they are stressed about the future of our nation, including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) report Stress in America™: Coping with Change.
As organizations and individuals, we are fighting to protect our healthcare, for immigrants’ rights, to achieve fair policing, and promote sustainable development, to name a few. These issues are not new and a little over a year ago, a typical day in the life of an organization might have included delivering life sustaining services, organizing and engaging in advocacy strategies; some days were dedicated to connecting with policy makers, and others to engaging residents through educational forums and outreach. Today, we are challenged to do all of these and much more, daily. Doing the challenging work of defending our communities against policies that will do great harm, reacting to funding cuts, being creative about fundraising, while also existing within these current social-political realities, increases our propensity for stress, burnout, trauma, empathy/compassion and oppression fatigue.
We need to remind ourselves and each other that we have shared goals and a commitment to rebuilding our history of active democracy; that as we work on all these issues in a stage filled with fear, uncertainty, and violence, we must pace ourselves—we must coordinate our efforts and truly depend on each other. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “…cut-throat business competitors come together to coordinate and speak with a unified voice. Nonprofits must similarly recognize their shared interests and come together to inform policy makers, defeat emerging threats, and seize new opportunities.” As pressures on our organizations increase and the issues faced by our society become more complex, the idea of cross-organization partnerships holds a greater promise. However, to reap the benefits of these partnerships, we must be intentional about how we contribute and also how we reap the benefits of each other’s efforts.
In previous years, CHC had a much broader breadth of active engagement in a variety of issues and could quickly analyze policies and put forth a public response. Today we need our partners to know that CHC remains committed to standing behind and fighting beside our mission aligned partners. However, given the current demands and still broad breadth of work we are responsible for, CHC is not able to respond to every attack publicly.
Hence, I am suggesting that we think of different solutions in pursuit of social and systems change, so we can mitigate burn out, and leverage our activities, resources and efforts relative to and in conjunction with each other. Not everyone needs to protest on the street and not every organization needs to put out reactive statements for every attack. At CHC we welcome your suggestions as to how we continue to improve our coordinated responses, by increasing our communications and actions. We are all pursing a greater goal of creating a more humane political environment that supports the well-being of our communities.