Trump's stunning upset victory over Hillary Clinton has given us a president who is likely to shake up the goals of federal grant making in a similar manner. Consequently, the surprising results of the presidential election are causing non-profit executives to wonder what, if anything, they can do to ensure a steady supply of federal grants for non-profits in California and across the country.
Basically, you are best off investigating congressional behavior and specific presidential appointees if you want to accurately predict what will happen to your particular niche in the federal grant system. This is because grant programs are low visibility items. They are barely, if at all, even noticed by the general public so members of Congress have nearly complete autonomy to do what they want without the burden of public attention. The federal grants that you and I compete for on a yearly basis are more likely to be influenced by the behavior and preferences of little known interest groups, bureaucrats and congressional staffers.
Accordingly, the election results will not be a strong predictor of Trump's presidency unless the policy matters impacts a high visibility, high conflict issue such as building a border wall or cancelling previous trade agreements. Off the top of my head, however, I would say that grants to study or prevent global warming are a dead end on arrival for the foreseeable future. On a more optimistic angle, I think the Trump administration will be open to new ideas that increase the number of construction jobs and construction workers, particularly in the key swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
As you contemplate the future of federal grants, it is probably a good idea to understand how long the Trump administration will last and what may happen to partisan control of Congress.
Right now, the indications are that Donald Trump will be reelected in 2020 and serve out two terms in office or eight years total. My confidence in this prediction is that it is fairly easy for presidents to get re-elected in general. As you may know, twenty presidents have competed for reelection since 1900: Of those, 15 won and five lost. (I am counting Gerald Ford as one of the losers even though he was initially appointed and not elected to the office). Incumbent presidents have a lot of advantages in terms of visibility, name recognition, fundraising resources and, of course, all the money and influence available to them through their control of the Executive Branch. Even unpopular presidents tend to get more popular when it is time to file for office again.
Unless, Trump loses a war or zigs off in a completely unpopular direction (or faces a strong third party candidate) there is little chance that he will be a one-term president. Accordingly, it is safest to assume that - for better or worse - your charity will be serving in a Trump administration dominated political environment for the next eight years.
Historically speaking, Trump should lose congressional seats in the next mid-term election. In all likelihood, it will be much harder for him to pass new legislation after the mid-term elections are over. Right now, Republicans have a positive outlook since of the 25 Democrat Senate seats up for re-election include senators from ten states in which Trump won large victories. Nevertheless, it is rare for a president to gain legislative strength over time. Although he would be unlikely to lose the House of Representatives, there is a chance he could lose control of the Senate. The significance of this possibility is probably not lost on Trump. He has every reason to make the best of the next 200 days and the next two years when his legislative majorities will most certainly be at their peak.
Given Republican advantages in the electoral college and their control of most of the state legislatures, I believe that the House of Representatives will stay in Republican hands for the foreseeable future. Due to Republican dominance among governors and statehouses, they will be able to gerrymander their congressional districts and carefully apportion their voters so that they get the maximum number of congressional leaders elected to the House of Representatives. The bottom line is that the trends you see in funding right now, as indicated in the first few months of the administration, are highly likely to be the ones that control the pace, focus and size of federal grants in your field for the next eight years or so, if not longer.
Finally, it is important to understand just how significant will Trump's appointees be in regards to any changes we might see in federal grants. This issue goes to the heart of the limits on executive power and the natural constraints placed on a chief executive like Donald J. Trump. Since no U.S. president can personally control the day-to-day operations of a cabinet department, much less the entire federal government, it makes a lot of sense for non-profit executives to drill down and pay greater attention to the folks that Trump appoints to lead the departments that distribute the grants you want for your non-profit organization. Personally, I have found it helpful to do a little Google research on the key people who are taking over the government departments where I compete for federal grants.
For example, you might start getting to know the following cabinet officers or potential cabinet officers by using this handy list:
|Ben Carson||Housing and Urban Development||Wikipedia Research|
|Betsy Devos||Education||Wikipedia Research|
|Tom Price||Health and Human Services||Wikipedia Research|
|Sonny Perdue||Agriculture||Wikipedia Research|
|Andy Puzder||Labor||Wikipedia Research|
|Elaine Chao||Transportation||Wikipedia Research|
|David Shulkin||Veterans Affairs||Wikipedia Research|
|Ryan Zinke||Interior||Wikipedia Research|
If you research President Trump's appointments, then you will certainly help your non-profit agency prepare itself to win federal grants. You will also be among the most knowledgeable people in America, among the very few who will be able to predict for others much of what will happen over the course of the next eight years.