Can nonprofits increase voting among their clients, constituents, and staff? In 2012 Nonprofit VOTE enlisted 94 nonprofits to help us find out by tracking their voter contacts with 33,741 individuals in seven states. An independent analysis of the data conducted by CIRCLE, the youth civic engagement institute at Tufts University, showed the answer was yes.

The study’s findings are available in a two-part report–Can Nonprofits Increase Voting Among Their Clients, Constituents, and Staff? An Evaluation of the Track the Vote Program.

Part I not only provide details about the populations nonprofits reached about voting, but it also illustrates their ability to raise turnout rates among those least expected to vote and to close gaps in voter participation across all demographics.

  • Nonprofits were particularly effective at increasing voter turnout among groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the electoral process. Voter turnout of nonprofit voters compared to all registered voters was:
    1. 18 points higher for Latino voters,
    2. 15 points higher for voters under the age of 30, and
    3. 15 points higher for voters with household incomes under $25,000.
  • Disparities in voter turnout by age, income, race, and ethnicity narrowed or disappeared among voters engaged by the nonprofits compared to the large turnout gaps evident among registered voters.

The report also summarizes the findings from 27 interviews with nonprofits, highlighting the challenges, successes, and the strategies that did and did not work to incorporate voter engagement into ongoing services. Sixteen case studies are contained in Part II of the report and describe specific agency tactics, efforts, and results.

  • The most successful nonprofits made their voter engagement plans early, giving them time to pilot their programs and make adjustments.
  • Staffing is a key consideration. This means not only having a staff lead organizing and planning activities, but also ensuring there is adequate staffing–provided internally or by a partner–to carry out the efforts.

Read the report and get started with your own voter engagement efforts.