By Steve Stirling
In the lead up to and aftermath of the recent presidential election, Americans have focused on winners and losers. They have watched endless coverage of the campaign, the election and now the analysis. Social media is lit up with debates and political hashtags.
Meanwhile, the most vulnerable people in the world have become almost invisible. The refugee crisis has disappeared from our television screens. The Zika epidemic is gone. And the people of Haiti are left to deal with the clean up from Hurricane Matthew and the cholera crisis with almost no attention.
The biggest losers of this political season are the world’s vulnerable and those who try to serve them.
As the president and CEO of a nonprofit organization, I understand that we are always vying for the attention of the public. Even our most loyal supporters become distracted by other issues. But I’ve never seen a time when those in need had a more difficult time being noticed.
When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, the campaign was in full swing. Many news outlets did their best to provide coverage, but within days, coverage of Haiti had slipped to minor mentions.
Many nonprofit organization report that fundraising has been lower in response to Haiti than for any other recent disaster. And as we head into year end fundraising season, donations continue to lag.
During a poll conducted last week, fundraising blogger Jeff Brooks asked fundraisers if the election was hurting their fundraising efforts and 53 percent reported funding was down. Another third said it was simply too early to tell.
What does this mean?
We can hope and pray that as we enter the last six weeks of 2016, people will pull themselves away from the election and political discussions and focus on those in need around the world. But we also need to pro-actively share our concerns with trusted supporters.
The vulnerable of the world are hurting and will hurt even more if organizations are not able to break through the political fog. It’s time to turn away from our own interests and remember those who need our attention.
Steve Stirling is president and CEO of MAP International.