Welcome to the fall 2005 issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly entitled “Amplifying Democracy: Nonprofits and Communications.” Inside, we have included articles on everything from branding and social marketing to how communications fits in social change and organizing strategies. We have looked at how communities can be helped to reframe issues and what it takes to tell a good enough story to impact public policy. There is a wealth of information in these pages, in fact, and more links to information that we were not able to include.
By way of introduction, we would like to call your attention to some foundational concepts. First, there is a natural link between a free press that promotes discourse and dissent, and a sector that promotes citizen engagement on social issues. They are both critical to a healthy democracy
Second, since the nature of our work as nonprofits is to engage communities, one-way communication is generally not appropriate—at least not for long. This does not mean that a few people who feel something strongly should not develop a nonprofit to promote that message but it does assume that we should over time develop and be in touch with a base of supporters who can help us craft our analyses and messages, enriching and deepening them with illustrative stories that move people to the right kind of actions.
Third, our ability to engage, inform, and mobilize our constituents toward political action is currently under threat. We cannot allow these rights to be impinged upon. It would be bad for our work and bad for this country. If we believe that our work will and should in the future drive good public policy we, as members of the nonprofit sector, cannot stay silent on this fundamental question.
To give you a sense of how these developments are occurring we have included a link (www.nonprofitquarterly.org/section/763.html) to an article by Rick Cohen recently published in our e-Newsletter entitled: “Slippery Slope Leads to Rocky Road for Nonprofits.”You can also look to Kay Guinane’s article “Nonprofit Speech is Being Debated: Speak While You Can” (see page 84). NPQ will try to keep you informed about these issues so that we can help to mobilize your input to legislators. We will usually do this through the e-Newsletter so if you are not a current subscriber, sign up today (at www.nonprofitquarterly.org/scripts/enews/subscribe).
Finally, we regret some of the topics excluded from this issue which was just simply getting too large. To be covered in the future is the power of the involvement of youth in media, and the emergence and chronicling of the uses of new forms of digital communication.
As always we owe a debt of deep gratitude to all of the wise and seasoned people who helped us research and develop this issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly. We would be nothing without you!