Divided We Stand – But We Don’t Have to Fall

By Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Relations, Goodwill Industries International

At the time of this writing, the results of the Presidential election have not been finalized. It appears that we will continue to have a split Congress, which could lead to more gridlock. The uncertainty around this election has been hard on our country — not to mention that we’re still fighting a pandemic with COVID-19 cases on the rise, wrestling with civil unrest and social injustices, and many areas are still recovering from recent natural disasters. Yet, a record number of ballots were cast and demonstrations have largely been peaceful.

While the specific impact the elections will have for the interests of Goodwill®, the people we serve, and the charitable sector as whole is unknown, we can say that there will be an abundance of opportunity to forge new relationships, leverage our expertise and successes in the workforce development arena, and bridge the divide in our country.

Building Relationships

There are a number of newly elected lawmakers who will be taking office for the first time in January at all levels of government. There will be at least 50 new members of Congress, including mayors, doctors, farmers, educators, a college football coach and an astronaut. In elected offices around the country, we should see a great amount of diversity across race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion and sexual orientation. Read the bios of the new Congress members and learn about their interests and backgrounds. Consider sending a welcome letter noting your issues of concern, how you can be a valuable resource, and anything you look forward to working with them on together. If you work for a local Goodwill, invite the lawmaker and staff to visit your organization to see the mission in action.

Leveraging Data and Success Stories

There has been an emphasis on data and evidence-based practices when considering funding and making changes to particular programs. Local Goodwill organizations serve as incubators of innovation in communities all over the county. Take advantage of the opportunity to leverage data and results to communicate impact, and pair that data with a success story of an individual who has benefited from the service.

Helping to Bridge the Divide

We have a divided government, and the country is seemingly becoming more polarized. Many people feel that the government has failed them. Millions of people are unemployed, the Coronavirus has disproportionately impacted communities of color, the number of people living in poverty is on the rise, and thousands of households are facing food insecurity. People are in despair. No one person in any office is going to be able to address the needs of all of these individuals. We need to provide solutions together. Local Goodwill organizations have a role to play as a partner, convener, service provider, and employer to provide opportunities for individuals who feel they have none.

As an advocate for Goodwill, you have an important place in this conversation. We hope that you’ll continue to help us advance our issues as we work to educate and engage the next Congress and equip them with the information they need to advance policies that protect Goodwill, the nonprofit sector, and the people they serve. We invite you to register for our Legislative Action Center, follow us on Twitter to stay informed and continue to find ways to engage with our work.