The Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership holds public policy meetings that, despite its 400 member organizations, usually only attract about 30 nonprofit leaders. Their meeting in December 2016 however, brought in 85 people. Their top concern? What the incoming presidential administration would mean for nonprofits in the Pittsburgh area, as well as the rest of the country.
President Trump has made many promises and statements over the course of his campaign that have left nonprofit leaders, among others, unsure of what to expect in the coming four or more years. The mood is generally not celebratory for these people, as those promises will most likely result in cuts to federal programs that these nonprofits use to help them achieve their missions.
These federal programs also protect the poor, homeless, and other vulnerable people in the U.S., and private philanthropy is most likely going to feel the need to fill as much of that gap as it can. But it’s just not possible.
“No amount of private philanthropy can replace the services that comprise the safety net that government provides for those who are most vulnerable,” Jeanne Pearlman, Senior Vice President for Program and Policy at the Pittsburgh Foundation, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Much of the concern comes from the fact that Trump has never worked in government and has no political record. While that was a big selling point for many of his supporters, it makes it impossible for anyone to really know what to expect from his administration. Analysts generally look to a president’s voting record to get a handle on how their administration will actually deal with the issues. While Trump will have a Congress that will likely support him for at least the first half of his term, no president can do everything the claim they want to.
This lack of information is at the core of the confusion and apprehension that many nonprofit leaders and the people who rely on nonprofits for help. Trump’s vow to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is a prime example. How will that work? Will it happen, and if so, what will replace it? Without precedent to look at, leaders in the nonprofit field have no way of knowing how to budget for the next few years or how to address possible gaps in coverage.