Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

Nonprofits connecting to public policy to reach a broader audience

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I’m sharing here a link to a piece published this week on Huffington Post ( that I hope helps more sharply frame Share Our Strength’s key issue of childhood hunger in the context of the emerging national conversation about domestic priorities.

But it may also be a useful example for a broader range of nonprofit organizations when it comes to:

(1) The importance of having a public policy component to advance their mission, if in fact they want to be part of systemic and transformative change; and

(2) creating or at least illustrating the connections between what they do and the most pressing issues that donors, activists, stakeholders and others are reading about in the news, discussing at the water cooler, etc.

Too often non-profit organizations work not only in silos but in a kind of isolation from “the real world”. They assume that everyone will be interested in the issues they are interested in, but in practice we compete for mindshare not just against other nonprofits but against the broad range of issues, problems and needs that dominate the news, the Net, and the ever changing national conversation. To be part of that we have to adapt our message to fit into that conversation. To reach beyond the usual suspects to a larger audience we must help people see the connections between what we care about and what they are being told they should care about. The HuffPost article is an effort to do that with childhood hunger.