As the November 2 elections approach, one thing is certain: people-centered nonprofit organizations will be glad when they are over!
America's multibillion dollar electoral process absorbs people's and business' discretionary funds which might otherwise go to community, national and international programs. Every two years, our increasingly money-driven elections cause us to defer giving to children in need, social services programs, hospitals, medical research, the environment, schools and universities, cultural affairs and religious institutions. Add to these a few hundred international aid and development charities whose privately funded budgets drop drastically every two years and you can appreciate how a humanitarian aid or other human services group might view our over-watered election process.
The nonprofits which do not accept government funds rely on involved individuals, businesses and foundations to pick up the shortfall in both an election year and during a major economic downturn. You can only imagine how the 2008 and 2010 elections have been greeted by most of us. (Yes, we get the difference between candidates, parties and the like and understand the importance of positive, intelligent governance.)
Just think of a few compelling situations which need your attention and assistance:
1. The rebuilding and reclaiming of lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi has still not reached the majority of those who lost so much -- five years later!
2. The killing, raping and dislocation in Sudan and The Congo continue. Five million have been killed in The Congo alone.
3. The number of medically uninsured Americans has passed 50 million with millions more living on their one year of Cobra coverage after massive layoffs. These Americans join millions of others in using nonprofit community clinics as their principal source of health care -- stressing these small clinics to the breaking point. Those clinics need supplies and money to continue. These are private clinics, mostly, but there are also 1,250 U.S. Government funded Neighborhood Health Centers whose budgets are held hostage to the political wars in Congress.
4. While earthquake recovery in Haiti has been painfully slow and disorganized, leaving well over one million people living hand to mouth and mostly without safe shelter, there are a few bright spots where schools, clinics, hospitals and safe homes are being rebuilt. [hint: look at the City of Jacmel and its dynamic Mayor, Edwin Zenny].
5. Flooded communities in America's mid-west and in Pakistan need varying levels of rebuilding support, with 20 million affected people in the case of Pakistan.
6. The BP Oil Spill off the Gulf Coast as well as an even longer-term, larger, continuing spill in Nigeria challenge us to help restore the environment and the economic livelihoods of millions. Globally, plastic pollution is killing ocean life.
7. In many communities here and abroad, services have been cut back as needs have exceeded the combined ability of governments and the private sector. These cut-backs can be in a library's hours of operation, access to an emergency room or clinic, cancelled community transportation services, deferred road maintenance or a myriad of other services we often take for granted.
There are ways you can help. The United States economy (for some fortunate or farsighted people but not most others) has begun to recover: stock indexes are rising, certain economic sectors are beginning to stir, people in need are increasingly using New Media to make their plights known to us all. There still is great wealth among the few lucky ones.
The 2010 elections threaten to be like an unfulfilling but expensive meal. Some dishes will taste good, some not, the other patrons may be objectionable or attractive, and tomorrow morning we'll wonder why we bothered when we get on the scale.
You should revisit your favorite charity or cause. Match what you've given a politician or political party with a donation that really will make a difference!