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The Important Role Nonprofits Play

Counter to popular belief, nonprofits do more for society than provide aid or hold an event; they solve problems—problems they are working on in accomplishing their missions.

They address problems by engaging members of the community in the issues. Then, as advocates are created, those members of the public can deliver experience-based policy ideas to elected officials whether local, state, or national.   It is an experienced-based, equitable system that works.  Those advocates also give nonprofits the support they need to survive, not a small thing.

Policy makers need to hear from nonprofit leaders about community needs, and building advocacy is a way to accomplish that.  River Action solved the need for bike trails and public access this way.

In 1985, Ride the River on riverfront streets led to calls for trails.  River Action a year later was not alone in lobbying for them; it was the bike riders and future users who in every city hall asked and petitioned for trails and river access that got results. River Action helped people use their own voices to share their stories, call for change, and hold leaders accountable. Ride the River served as a catalyst for change and  took risks that city governments could not.

Big Brothers Big Sisters solved the need to guide and help our kids-at-risk this way; they find mentors for each of the youth. It is a solution for making good on their mission that works for everyone.

Mission plays the largest role in determining nonprofit advocacy.  A majority of nonprofits have a diversity, equities and inclusion statement in their missions and activities to create more equitable systems as a result.  River Action does.   We realize the mission by working on flood prevention in flood prone areas which are most often the underserved neighborhoods.  Government and nonprofit partnerships are created in this way, and those valuable partnerships deepen with each fulfilled commitment.

As we build community around the river, we can solve these critical issues using research and education, but most importantly, by urging people to show up and stand up for the change that is needed.