There has been an unusual amount of handwringing over the outcome of the presidential election, including protests that have turned violent in some cities. I wanted to know how President-Elect Trump will impact social entrepreneurs and nonprofits.
Most of the people I reached for this article seem upbeat about their prospects under the new president, either because or despite the change in direction. Some of the issues raised will impact many social entrepreneurs and nonprofits; others are more specific to their respective cause areas. Their thinking can help you begin to evaluate the impact of the election on your organization.
Dr. Julian Maha, Founder of the autism nonprofit KultureCity, said, “From a strictly nonprofit perspective, his financial policies could set the stage for an increase in charitable giving that could result from limiting or eliminating other major deductions. So from a philanthropic perspective the election of Donald Trump could very well see an increase in charitable giving.”
But not everyone is so sanguine about the election. Kirsten Henry Fox, Founder and CEO of Uplift Gift said, “The fact that Trump won is disturbing to us, not in an angry way, but with a bone-deep sadness that comes from the realization that someone with messages steeped in fear, hate and judgment galvanized so many Americans to vote for him.”
Even she, however, was able to see a silver lining around this cloud for her for-profit social venture that sells gift baskets for women experiencing cancer, divorce and other emotional challenges, “Since negative emotions over time can cause disease, perhaps, in a strange turn of events, our sales may increase.”
She adds, “Every time we send gift boxes to people who are suffering, as we handwrite messages of love in the cards, we are reminded that friendship is a powerful healer.”
Jason Loyet, President of Solar Site Design, in the solar power industry is unfazed by the election. “Solar Energy is a positive for job growth and driving down energy costs for homes and businesses across the nation. We are laser focused on executing the Renewable Energy Revolution that’s time has come.”
Brent Andrewsen, an attorney in deep red Utah at Kirton McConkie who specializes in nonprofit law, seems calm about the transition, anticipating some increases in charitable giving. “We assume that his promises relative to reduction in taxes, including the possible elimination of the estate tax, will create significant opportunities for families to simplify their estate and tax planning. I would expect to see some increase in charitable giving in connection with business sales and acquisitions in a more favorable tax environment.”
Laura Dunn, the founder and Executive Director for SurvJustice, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of women who are survivors of campus sexual assaults, says she expects some significant changes in her regulatory landscape. “SurvJustice anticipates that several legal tools we use regarding enforcement of Title IX on college campus through the U.S. Department of Education will be curtailed.”
She told the Chronicle of Higher Education last week, “I’m not worried about campuses no longer addressing sexual violence.” She explained that there has been a shift on campuses around the country to providing genuine care and concern to victims of sexual assault and that she doesn’t expect a regulatory shift to change that.
Colleen Copple, Co-Founder of Strategic Applications International, who works with governments at all levels both in and out of the United States, often on matters related to community policing, has some concerns. “Our work in crime, violence, and substance abuse prevention may benefit if the bi-partisan efforts to address criminal justice reform and his promise to address the needs of inner cities are real. His claim to isolationism suggests cuts in USAID funding which would affect the work we do in Africa.”
She says she’ll continue to do what she’s done in the past, noting that “Whoever is in office, needs the support and input from those of us who work in the trenches and can inform policy and practice.”
David Bobanick runs Rotary First Harvest, a nonprofit that collects surplus food from farmers to distribute to people who lack it. He sees possible impacts in two aspects of the supply side of his operation: trade and guest workers.
With respect to trade, he notes, “Our organization works closely with the agriculture industry, which will be impacted by changes to export and trade, since the US sells a significant amount of food grown domestically to overseas markets. Any trade war, if escalated, could have a devastating effect on that industry.”
Commenting on possible changes to immigration policies, he says, “Another potential issue will be how immigration restrictions, particularly to guest worker programs, might negatively impact the harvesting and processing of produce. Both of these are of significant concern on one side of our work.”
Bobanick is also concerned about the people he serves. “On the other side, services to families and individuals who need assistance from hunger relief programs to get through difficult times may increase dramatically as other social service programs are reduced.”
Despite the challenges, he says, “We will continue to look for ways to reduce food waste and hunger through collaborations between industry (e.g. farmers and trucking companies) and service providers (e.g. food pantries, meal programs, schools, etc.).”
David A. Ross is the CEO and President of The Task Force for Global Health, which is working to eradicate diseases around the world. He remains optimistic. “We expect the new administration will continue to see the importance of protecting the health of Americans from disease threats such as Ebola and Zika virus.”
Lisa Tomasi, President of YouGiveGoods, is indifferent to the election. “We may not know the immediate impact or effect of a Trump Administration on our business, but we do know that the number of people and organizations that needed and used our technology platform before the night of November 8th has not changed because of the outcome of the election. We know for certain that no matter who sits behind the desk in the Oval Office, neighbors will still want to help neighbors, businesses and employees will still want to help the community and non-profit organizations will still need assistance and partners to accomplish their missions.”
Her strategy for coping with changes could be great advice for other social entrepreneurs. “As an entrepreneurial company, our response to any change from the election result would be the same as any other response to a change–we adapt, we revise the vision, we move pieces, we use critical thinking to deftly move in our space and we, most importantly, continue to move forward with our mission to use technology to connect people and companies with charity organizations who need food, toys and other supplies to help support the needs of communities throughout the country.”
Liz Baker, the Executive Director for GreaterGood.org, which works globally to help people, pets and the planet, worries about global markets and trade. “After the election, one worry was that the destabilization of global markets would hurt our partners and programs–who continue to have a great need despite the outcome of this or any election. We are also keeping an eye on trade. Much of our funding comes from corporate partners who import products and focus on fair trade. If it becomes more challenging to import products or costs significantly rise that will in turn create decline in corporate funding for some of our programs.”
She adds, “It is pretty clear now to everyone that there is deep division in this country. After spending a (sickening) day or two monitoring Facebook it’s evident that people do really care about important issues like poverty, immigration policy, domestic violence, sexual assault, etc. Our hope atis that this election will mobilize people to take action beyond just posting.”
Mellanie True Hills, CEO of StopAfib.org, is worried about healthcare for seniors who most frequently suffer from atrial fibrillation or Afib. “Patients are concerned that with Obamacare being repealed/replaced, those with pre-existing conditions will not be protected. Initially, that was believed to be the case, and there was a whole lot of fear, but we have since heard that those with pre-existing conditions will be protected. If so, that will be a huge relief to those not yet on Medicare.”
Medicare itself worries Hills. ” In his campaign, President-Elect Trump said that Medicare would not be touched, but there are rumblings that that may not be the case. There is a huge amount of concern that it will be left to Rep. Paul Ryan and Congress to sort out Medicare. Ryan has indicated that he will implement some big changes that could be detrimental to seniors, including higher costs, transitioning from government to private insurers, and even vouchers. Senior patients in our community are concerned about Medicare being decimated. If the House and Senate pass such changes, then President Trump could possibly sign them, hurting our senior community.”
In response, she says, “We normally work with many other organizations on grass-roots advocacy with policymakers in Washington, DC, but are looking at doing even more. We are considering joining up with additional coalitions to get more real-time info about what is happening in DC and what we can do to protect our community.”
Molly Hayward, CEO and founder of Cora, a social venture providing feminine hygiene products both in the U.S. and in the developed world, says, “I feel as though it’s too soon to know what the impact of the Trump administration will be on our business. As a company that exists to propel women’s rights and equality forward, we are still trying to understand exactly how the Trump administration will impact that progress, and to determine our best strategy for staying true to our mission and values in the face of that. Being an advocate for women is a role we take very seriously, and is going to take some time to know how we can best be of service to our community and our customers.”
Baker,cutive Director, offered some advice that could be applicable to everyone. “Giving one hour a week of your time in your community or donating $5 a month to a cause you care about, will make a difference and will change the world.”
By Devin Thorpe