Your nonprofit is out to change the world. So was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and someone who had a profound impact on those experiencing racial discrimination all over the world.
Shortly after Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, the campaign for Martin Luther King Jr. Day (aka MLK Day) was started, with the holiday being observed at federal and state levels in 1983 and the Martin Luther King Day of Service being signed into federal legislation by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
Especially after 2020, the significance of the day will be top of mind for some of your supporters and community members, which means your organization cannot shy away from the themes and history behind MLK Day if you choose to speak.
Take a cue from the themes of MLK Day
Above all, it’s important to be aligned with the heart of MLK Day—this isn't a time to try to cash in on a holiday. Dr. King was an advocate for activism, tolerance, and equality. If your organization wants to join the conversation related to MLK Day, it needs to authentically tie into this core issue.
- Highlight a program that advocates for tolerance or equality. The program doesn't have to be yours, btw.
- Discuss Dr. King’s influence on your nonprofit or a nonprofit that you respect.
- Showcase the impact of activism in your community, history, or the world at large.
Amplify someone who carries on Dr. King's spirit
Highlight a person or organization that exemplifies Dr. King's spirit. Suggest that your supporters follow them on social or support their work. Thank them for being an excellent steward of MLK's ideals.
Most importantly, remember that this is about them, not you.
Highlight MLK Day of Service activities
If your organization is participating in the MLK Day of Service, use today to highlight the impact of the day. The goal of the MLK Day of Service is to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community." Share photos and tell stories that reflect this vision.
Check out the content ideas from the official MLK Day of Service’s Facebook page.
Share stories of leaders of color
MLK Day is a great opportunity for listening. Use the day to showcase leaders of color, with their permission, of course. This could include staff members, board members, volunteers, donors, or even leaders of other organizations. Allow their stories to inspire your community.
And make sure this isn't the only time that you amplify these voices. Dr. King's legacy lives on every day, not just one day a year.
For allies, practice your support
Dr. King led one of the most influential racial justice movements in history that continues to impact the present-day racial justice momentment. One key way to practice allyship is to share your resources with organizations led by people of color. In addition to sharing what you have, profile their work and direct your community to follow or donate to these groups. Community-Centric Fundraising is a great place to begin applying these principles.
MLK Day serves as a reminder of the racial justice work still to be done and ways that we can support the cause every single day, in every single situation.