Tomorrow or Monday, we will ask you to take one more action in relation to SB 66, but today we announce an expansion of Retake’s work and ask for your input and support. Lastly, we offer our thanks to all of you. Your advocacy, encouragement, and support are what makes this a success.
Rethinking Retake Our Democracy Together
We need your help to enable Retake to expand the scope of its work and to create a more sustainable, long-term organization. Almost every day we hear from one of you, describing just how valuable our work is — the alerts, the blogs, the Zooms, and the formation of a community of advocates who together are building a systematic approach to advocacy in NM.
We want to ensure that that system can be expanded and the work sustained in the long term. That can’t happen with an all-volunteer organization that, to too great a degree, relies upon the work of a 65 and a 70-year-old in Santa Fe. We need to create a more diverse leadership and a more sustainable organization that continues this work indefinitely.
We have been talking about this for months with our board and with some of our allies. We have even shared our plan in one blog a few weeks ago. We are meeting with our board on April 1 to flesh out plans to create Rethink Our Democracy, a new 501c3 with a diverse staff and a business plan that will result in a more sustainable organization. Rethink will dive a bit deeper into what constitutes transformation and how to achieve it in a range of areas: land and water use, local sustainable development, food-to-table chains, rural and tribal infrastructure, energy democracy, and a path to a sustainable economy, to name just a few.
From our conversations with others, it is clear that 80% of what we do now is the work of a 501c3: educating on policies, issues, and legislation. Even advocacy and lobbying for legislation can be conducted within a 501c3, as long as it isn’t the organization’s dominant activity. But election work must be conducted within our existing 501c44, Retake Our Democracy.
As a 501c3, we will be able to generate foundation funding, large donations, and even bequests to sustain the work long-term. It will also allow us to enter into new directions, researching transformative innovations that have been successfully implemented in other states and nations and working with New Mexican stakeholders to replicate them here.
We want to be more proactive and less reactive. We want to generate programs, policies, and legislation that express our principles and priorities rather than just reacting to and supporting the ideas brought to us by our legislators. We want to continue to support programs operated by our allies, but we also want to create them. And we want to find language to describe this work in terms that resonate with most New Mexicans. We want the work to help unify the rural/urban, conservative/progressive divide. Despite all we fight over, there are so many values and principles we share. We want to find ways to build upon those shared values. We want to hear from you as we move forward. Please comment via the blog posts or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The development of the 501c3 will require a lot of Roxanne’s and my time. We think Retake’s dominant values and principles are very clearly expressed in our blog and our advocacy, but now we need to synthesize those values and priorities into clear vision statements, a scope of work, and a business plan. We need to carefully define what is the work of Rethink and what is the work of Retake and create structures that separate that work.
To allow us the time to do this, Retake will significantly reduce the number of blogs and Alerts we publish. We will keep you informed during the upcoming Special Session beginning Tuesday, and we will complete the Report Card on this past session. Then the timing for this brief hiatus is excellent as there will be no primaries or legislative sessions for some time. This is the ideal timeframe to do this work.
Over the next few months, we will use the blog to share with you our emerging plans and also publish briefs that outline the kind of projects and legislation that Rethink will be advancing. We want you to be a part of this development, offering input as we progress. And we will regenerate the Transformation Study Group and hopefully engage more of you in that work.
Our goal is that by sometime this summer we will have outlined very clearly the kinds of initiatives that Rethink will develop and have forged relationships with the stakeholders, allies, and funders whose involvement and support will be needed to advance the work.
The development of the 501c3 will not just take focused time, it will also require donations to cover legal fees, the creation of a new website for Rethink, printed materials, an eventual office, and other costs. In reviewing IRS rules, we’ve learned that demonstrating public support is a key requirement for forming a 501c3. What’s more, in discussing the idea with foundations, we’ve been told that showing clear evidence of our work being valued in the community is essential to receiving foundation grants. You are our community.
Many of us have just received or soon will receive $1,400 relief payments. Roxanne and I plan to donate most all of that to organizations that directly serve and support those most in need of COVID-relief. We hope those of you who can afford to will do the same. We also hope that you can make a generous donation to Retake Our Democracy to help us launch a sustainable organization, and that you will also consider a smaller monthly donation of $5, $10, $20, or $25 to help sustain that work. Make a donation by going to this link. Those of you who prefer to mail checks can do so to: Retake Our Democracy, P.O. Box 32464, Santa Fe, NM 87594.
For now your donation will not be tax-deductible as Retake is a 501c4 (sigh), but your donations now will us develop Rethink Our Democracy, where your donations will then be tax deductible. Your contributions will demonstrate to the IRS, to foundations, and to other large donors that our work is valued not just by the founders and board but by scores, hopefully hundreds, of you.
In closing, Roxanne and I again want to strongly express our gratitude to you. The work we have been doing the last five years has been one of the most gratifying things we’ve done in our lifetimes. But we want this work to endure. We won’t be able to do the heavy lifting forever. Your financial support now and your monthly contributions will help us sustain that work.
Launching Rethink Our Democracy was motivated by the many, many kind notes we receive that express how you value our work. That work deserves to be sustained because we can’t abandon the project. We must continue to press our legislators to do the right thing and we must pave new paths, generate new ideas, and turn them into projects and legislation that help New Mexico escape being last in everything good. We can help our state make a swift, just transition to a sustainable, regenerative future.
Let’s do this.
In solidarity, hope, and gratitude,
Paul & Roxanne