A Note from Richard Walden on the 2016 Election
Every four years human service organizations, international relief agencies, and cultural, health care and educational institutions dread living through a national election year. This dread is not because we are resistant to change or oppose democratic elections, which are an important part of our political system, but rather because we are largely dependent on private support from people with a finite–even if sometimes enormous–amount of discretionary funds.
This year, an estimated $10 billion in privately-donated funds will be spent by candidates for all offices–local, state and national. Much of it will go towards advertising, campaign consultants, staffing and travel.
This spending takes place in a terrible global climate of armed conflicts, terrorism, severe drought and food insecurity, all while the world continues to grapple with the spread of diseases and ever-worsening natural disasters that wreak havoc on communities and ecosystems. Operation USA and our international colleagues are facing overwhelming crises with far too few financial resources to make meaningful progress in alleviating some of these problems. As funding shifts toward political campaigns this year, it is unfortunately these causes that suffer most.
Operation USA is currently active in the Philippines, Nepal, Haiti, Ecuador and several other post-disaster environments around the world. We also place an emphasis on programs benefiting communities here at home, with education and youth empowerment programs supporting Native American youth in South Dakota and at-risk teen girls in New Orleans; and a supply program supporting of dozens of local nonprofit clinics in Southern California with essential equipment and supplies.
Our staff of less than ten manages to do what we do through partnerships with local and international groups throughout the world. Companies, health care institutions and individual health care workers donate supplies and equipment while corporations, foundations and individuals contribute much of the funds we need to remain effective. Partners on the ground in the areas where we work ensure that all these donations are put to use quickly and effectively, directly impacting the lives of those who need it most. However, this election year has put remarkable financial stress not just on Operation USA but on the nonprofit community as a whole.
Media coverage of our issues is sparse unless it involves a huge natural disaster or epidemic which may receive coverage for a limited period of time. From now until November, elections at all levels will dominate the news cycle. This election is no doubt of pressing importance to the future of our country and of the world, but we believe that our causes and those of our colleagues warrant attention as well.
It would be wonderful if those of you reading and agreeing with some of these arguments would make a special effort to support our work.
Now more than ever, we thank you for your support.
President & CEO