Seven in 10 voters say they think it is a good idea for nonprofits to offer voter support services, like voter registration, election reminders, and election day transportation. Additionally, nonprofits effectively reach communities underrepresented at the polls, including low-income, young, and voters of color. Finally, nonprofit voter engagement significantly boosts voter turnout, especially among those otherwise underrepresented in our democracy.

The evidence is clear – nonprofit voter engagement is broadly supported, reaches underrepresented communities, and boosts voter turnout to foster a more inclusive democracy.

  • But how many nonprofits across the nation actually do voter engagement with the communities they serve?
  • And equally important, who are the nonprofits that do voter engagement?
  • What characteristics set them apart from others?

This report sheds light on those questions using data from an Urban Institute survey of nonprofits nationwide conducted in 2021.

Key Findings

  • A fifth (20%) of all nonprofits surveyed said they did voter engagement “occasionally,” “frequently,” to “almost all the time.” However, the share of nonprofits doing voter engagement varies significantly depending on the community served, programs offered, nonprofit leadership, and other factors.
  • A third (29 to 37%) of nonprofits that serve historically underrepresented communities did voter engagement, including: Nonprofits that primarily serve Black communities, Hispanic communities, or low-income communities. Nonprofits that provide services such as job training and employment, food and nutrition, community improvement and capacity building, or youth development.
  • Nearly half (38 to 50%) of surveyed nonprofits led by People of Color did voter engagement, including: Nonprofits with majority People of Color boards. Nonprofits with CEOs of color, especially nonprofits with Black or Hispanic CEOs. Nonprofits with majority People of Color staff.

Based on our experience, these nonprofits may recognize the consequences of underrepresentation and seek to increase voter participation in the communities they serve as a route to positive change. They could also be a result of leadership more fully understanding and identifying with the needs of the community.

Other factors are also related to whether a nonprofit does voter engagement, including whether the nonprofit is urban vs. rural-based, its budget size, including if they are contracting or expanding, and if it also does lobbying or advocacy work. These and other nuances are explored in this report.

For more information including key findings, click here to read the full report.