Viewpoint: Local nonprofits seek help amid Trump budget cuts

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By Kelly Brinkley

On Thursday, June 8, more than 350 D.C. nonprofits will join together with other organizations throughout the Washington metropolitan area to take part in United Way of the National Capital Area’s “Do More 24” — the region’s largest online giving day, which is expected to raise nearly $2 million for local charities.

With the current political environment, including calls from the Trump administration and Congress to slash federal spending, many nonprofits servicing D.C. residents are fearful of their ability to carry out mission-critical work.

A reduction in federal funding for nonprofits throughout the area could dramatically impact initiatives such as providing food for the hungry, job counseling for the unemployed, health care services for seniors, and access to affordable housing and child care for low-income families.

All of this is happening against a backdrop of an increased need for critical services for our area’s most vulnerable populations from local charities whose capacity is already strained past the breaking point. We are hearing from our nonprofit partners daily about the overwhelming demand for services addressing women’s reproductive health needs as well as services helping the area’s immigrant population, homeless neighbors in need, and other “at-risk” populations.

In response, the nonprofit community has come together to launch this year’s Do More 24 theme titled, “Start Your Activism @ Home,” an urgent appeal for local residents to “think locally, give locally” by supporting hundreds of nonprofits throughout our area on the front lines right here in our own community.

Many national nonprofits and advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have reported a skyrocketing increase in giving by members throughout the country. As we know, local residents in our area tend to be some of the most highly engaged politically and are oftentimes digging deep to help support organizations and causes near and dear to their hearts.

Kelly Brinkley is chief operating officer of the United Way of the National Capital Area. (photo courtesy of Brad Luna)

“Start Your Activism @ Home” is a call to action, a reminder to all of us that making a difference can happen right here in the District by supporting any of the 350-plus organizations signed up to participate in this year’s Do More 24. Details are available at DoMore24.org.

Since its inception in 2013, Do More 24 has raised more than $5 million from over 42,400 donations benefiting hundreds of local nonprofit organizations in D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland. Every dollar raised is reinvested right back into the community and goes directly toward helping those organizations fill holes in their budgets, purchase desperately needed new equipment and ultimately serve more people in need across our region.

An example of a charity in the area that will benefit from this year’s Do More 24 is So Others Might Eat, an interfaith community-based organization helping the poor and homeless of our nation’s capital with food, clothing and health care. The organization also works to break the cycle of homelessness by offering services such as affordable housing, job training, counseling and addiction treatment to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness.

Another example is Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshops, whose mission is to use books, creative writing and peer support to awaken D.C. youth incarcerated as adults to their own potential. Through creative expression, job readiness training and violence prevention outreach, these young poets achieve their education and career goals, and become powerful voices for change in the community.

Residents throughout our area are more engaged than ever and are looking for ways to make a difference. On June 8, Do More 24’s “Start Your Activism @ Home” is an opportunity for all of us to remember that resilience starts locally and to shine a spotlight on the need for supporting our hometown organizations making a difference.

Kelly Brinkley is chief operating officer of the United Way of the National Capital Area, which will host the communitywide Do More 24 Online Giving Day on June 8.