Happy New Year! As with the beginning of any new year we recognize change, resolutions and commitments. However, with the entrance of 2011, the type of change and commitments we make need to look very different. We need to be much more intentional and strategic in our work as the reliance on the social sector increases dramatically.

As the new CEO of Tides I am pleased to have completed our internal road map for the next 12-24 months. Our focus will be on building community, articulating impact, and increasing opportunities to support social change. I look forward to working with all of our stakeholders to actualize this work.

While exciting and new, the road map is grounded in our historical commitment to common values such as fairness, tolerance, justice and equality. These shared values catalyze our work; our commitment to innovation and leadership is what makes them manifest.

Allow me to share a few strategic areas that we are working on for 2011.

First, we look forward to increasing our leadership in the sector. The voices of the progressive community are needed now more than ever. With a leadership change in the House of Representatives, it is inevitable that our core values (fairness, equality and justice for all) and our work to make them inclusive are at risk. Under the guise of fiscal conservatism and moral stewardship, legislators are already starting to marginalize the work of the social sector. In 2011, we look forward to countering these efforts with increased investments and engagement in the nonprofit sector. As a social enterprise, Tides facilitates the effective use of financial resources to support social change. We focus on building infrastructure to support scale and efficiency and enforcing the fiduciary responsibility of our partners. Legislators sometimes use religion as a means of marginalizing the social sector. But Tides is an engine of tolerance: as a public charity, we strengthen the longevity and capacity of people working together to transform their networks into communities, and their benevolence into scalable service systems. Our donors support diverse, values-driven approaches – from faith-based efforts, to LGBTQ advocacy efforts, to faith-based LGBTQ advocacy efforts. It is the collective power of this diversity that powers positive social change. This is the very work of Tides.

Second, we remain deeply committed to promoting civil discourse and supporting our own national dialogue on tolerance. We look forward to leveraging our network and resources to engage and support diverse groups in existing and emerging conversations on how best to manifest our shared values to support change. I truly believe that we all have similar values but the challenge lies in how these values manifest; it is the difference of implementation that often leads to friction. After witnessing the tragic event in Arizona on January 8, it is obvious that these differences have led to increased acrimonious political discourse. However, we do not believe this type of discourse is a hallmark of a healthy democracy. Therefore we are calling on institutional leaders and influencers to create a safe environment for the social sector, while we remain committed to providing a platform for donors, activists, entrepreneurs and others to leverage in order to support and sustain social change. Please join the dialogue and give us your comments below.

Finally, we renew our founding commitment to the environment. The recent political debates on climate change and the ongoing tensions between business and activists on the use of our natural resources, demands renewed and increased interest and investment. As the Cancun Climate Conference reports back, it is no small feat to recognize the one-year anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake. One year later over one million residents remain homeless, disease is running rampant, and basic necessities remain in high demand. Increased and sustained support and resources are still needed. Tides successfully launched the Haiti Relief Fund and I am pleased to announce that since January 2010, 24 Tides donors have made 44 grants, totaling $1,093,400 to support 29 different organizations focused on the relief and reconstruction of Haiti.  Additionally, individual Tides staff and members of Tides’ Board of Directors have contributed $10,645 of their own funds (including a Board match) toward the Tides Relief & Reconstruction Fund. While we are proud of our success, our commitment continues. We will be deploying another round of funding at the end of this month and invite you to join us in our continued support of Haiti relief efforts.

As 2011 unfolds I look forward to our continued communication and conversations on how best to support change in the world. As we celebrate 35 years of service, we are proud of our history and impact and enthusiastic about our future. I look forward to sharing our roadmap with you over the next several months. Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to our new website. We hope it facilitates your needs in helping you support good work across the globe.

Thank you for your continued support of Tides.

In Service,
Melissa L. Bradley

Photos, clockwise from top-left: Garden, Wetlands at Bennett’s Creek Park, Redfern Listens, Lineage Project, Real Medicine Foundation, Democracy, Pumping water from the well, Pro-Choice in Ottawa, American Democracy Institute, Farm Workers March, The Beatitudes Society.