Council of NJ Grantmakers: Building Blocks and the Promise of 2015

January 14, 2015


It’s Jan. 1 and I am thinking about 2015, as many of us are. Thinking about plans, what must be accomplished, what new projects and ideas we’ll explore, and so on. But I realize the building blocks for our 2015 plans are embedded in 2014, and even 2013, and 2012 and before.

Theresa Jacks
Theresa Jacks

As Deputy Director at the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, part of my role is building our public policy work on behalf of New Jersey’s philanthropic sector and our members.

I believe the best definition of public policy that engages all of us — citizens, the community, nonprofits, for-profits, and philanthropy is: Government programs and decisions that impact the economy, people and our society. Such a basic, thoughtful, and powerful definition that speaks to everyone at our core. I would even say the definition is elegant in its simplicity.

Key to our work is the profound realization of the power of partnerships — not that we didn’t already know that. We’ve been fortunate and proud over the last few years to have developed a strategic and planned relationship with the Center for Non-Profits.

In 2014, this partnership added another milestone. The Center for Non-Profits and Council of New Jersey Grantmakers on Nov. 9 co-presented a two-hour briefing for New Jersey Legislative staff on “Understanding New Jersey’s Non-Profit Community: Role, Impact, Myths & Facts. The session was a great success. Legislative staff from some key sections and committees that need to understand the work of the nonprofit and the philanthropic sectors attended the briefing. Attendees were quite engaged and asked a number of insightful questions.

We’re confident everyone came away with a heightened understanding of the many nuances of the nonprofit, charitable and philanthropic communities. We also encouraged each attendee to reach out to our organizations when they have questions about the sectors, as well as for information and assistance. We’re scheduled to provide another briefing to the Office of Legislative Services in 2015.

Another initiative of critical importance to the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors that launched in 2014 is the Stand for Your Mission campaign. A joint partnership of the National Council of Nonprofits, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, BoardSource, Alliance for Justice, the Campion Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the campaign “seeks to unleash the full potential of the nonprofit sector to create positive impact by engaging board leaders more directly in the advocacy work of their organizations.”

This means encouraging board members and social sector decision-makers to actively represent their organization’s mission and values. This is basic advocacy and honors the elegant definition of public policy noted above.

For these reasons (and frankly more) 2015 looms with abundant promise. Can’t wait to see what comes next. How will you and your organization engage in public policy to further the missions so dear to your work and to make a positive impact on our communities?

Theresa Jacks is Deputy Director at the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, the statewide association of more than 120 funding organizations working in New Jersey. The Council of New Jersey Grantmakers is a member of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, a 34-member network serving more than 4,000 foundations, corporations and other donors across the country; and the Center for Non-Profits, New Jersey’s only umbrella organization for all charities in the state.

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