A 2006 survey by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation asked respondents “who/what influences whether or not you will vote?” and the top answers included:
- Family: 38%
- Community Organizations: 35%
- Media Ad: 10%
- No Response: 9%
- Friends: 8%
The high level of respect for community organizations showed in this poll reinforces the role that nonprofits have to play in helping their communities vote. Not only are nonprofits positive voices to encourage participation, but they are also effective. Our 2012 study found that nonprofits were particularly effective at increasing voter turnout among groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the electoral process. Voter turnout of among young, low-income, and Latino voters contacted by nonprofits was 15-18 points higher than the turnout rates for their peers in the registered voter population.
For nonprofits interested in increasing participation, consider starting with registration. Voters (except for those in North Dakota) can’t participate if they aren’t registered and most states have registration deadlines in October. Join National Voter Registration Day on September 23rd. In addition to registering voters, it’s important to provide support and information about what’s on the ballot, how the voting process works, when the polls are open, and how voters can find their polling place. Finally, in the lead up to the election and on Election Day, offer reminders about heading to the polls.