This year, Nonprofit VOTE undertook a first-of-its-kind collaboration to assess the capacity of service providers to promote voting and their impact in doing so. Working with seven partners in nine states, we tracked the voter engagement activities of 87 local service providers who each agreed to register or collect voter pledges from 250 or more of their clients. With training from their state partner, local nonprofits tracked the voter contact information of over 40,000 people receiving services–15,110 people registered to vote and another 25,355 clients and staff members filled out pledge to vote cards. Everyone received a follow up mailing and/or call with state-specific voting information. The participating nonprofits represented a diverse pool of organizations, including community action agencies, immigrant serving nonprofits, health centers, affordable housing groups, family and children focused agencies, shelters, and disability programs spread across states like Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina.
Early next year, we will review state voter files to find out if the 40,000 people contacted voted in the November election and if, for example, they were first time voters or were already registered but infrequent voters who didn’t vote in the 2010 midterm. We’re also conducting in-depth interviews with 26 of the participating nonprofits to hear firsthand how they conducted voter engagement, the capacity challenges they faced, and what did and didn’t work. Together, the metrics and case studies will create a more robust roadmap to allow a far greater number of nonprofit service providers to incorporate voter engagement into their work in future election cycles and to do so with greater effectiveness and impact. Stay tuned.