The Boys & Girls Clubs of America‘s 2012 “Our Voice, Our Choice” campaign effectively combined many elements of the Nonprofit VOTE voter engagement model.

1. Commitment from the top. “Character and Citizenship” is one of BGCA’s six program foci, and the vice president responsible for this area was able to get institutional buy-in for voter engagement as a natural extension of this core commitment. This helped ensure the various campaign elements were seen as sanctioned and pre-approved.

2. Planning. High level buy-in was secured in part because the Director and Assistant Director for Character and Citizenship developed a thoughtful and organized multi-stage plan months in advance. They organized voter engagement activities into five “pushes,” indicating different activities for staff and program participants, at the national office, and among affiliates. Unlike a spontaneous activity proposed last minute during the height of an intense election season, this prepared approach allowed for internal review, approval, and support.

3. Branding. BGCA developed an attractive “Our Voice, Our Choice” logo that became ubiquitous within and among BGCA affiliates (though it was not part of BGCA’s external communications). The campaign tagline, “Great citizens start here,” played off a familiar BGCA motto, “Great futures start here.”

4. Built in, not tacked on. The BGCA campaign generally didn’t require extra resources because most activities were incorporated into existing youth programs and leveraged existing policies:

  • National staff: BGCA’s campaign plan included a range of activities throughout the various stages, including: Pre- and post-campaign “We the People” quizzes with prizes; iCivics online games; “Lunch & Learn” with county board of elections officials; fun videos made in-house; red, white, and blue “jeans day”; cupcakes and sodas on Election Day; an online guide to activities, and; a special HR memo explaining their paid leave policy for voting.
  • Local clubs: BGCA utilized existing communications channels–primarily their internal intranet “online communities”–to provide their 4,000 affiliates and 45,000 staff members with regular messages and reminders as well as well as links to Nonprofit VOTE resources and election information. Local clubs incorporated mock elections, iCivics quizzes and games, and voting activities into ongoing youth programs.

5. Having fun! From the start, the campaign was designed to be fun and festive. BGCA produced a man-in-the-street style video to find out what people know about voting, the national office hosted “Lunch & Learn” sessions, youth played iCivics games online, and Election Day itself was a celebration of democracy featuring balloons and festive attire.

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