2014 Voter Engagement TimelineLast month the Citizen-Times covered Asheville area nonprofits and their get-out-the-vote efforts. The article highlighted:

  • Children First / Communities In Schools printed 40,000 copies of its 2014 Buncombe County Voter Guide. The guide covered candidates’ views on child poverty, education, health, social services to low-income families, affordable housing and living wage requirements. “It’s really issue-focused around children and families,” said Allison Jordan, executive director. Children First / Communities In Schools distributed the guide with the food assistance boxes it gives to families in need at its Family Resource Center. Like other nonpartisan nonprofits, Children First / Communities In Schools said its roots as an advocacy organization mean it has a strong interest in engaging the people it serves in voter education.
  • The YWCA of Asheville has been working on voter registration with Democracy North Carolina and the American Association of University Women since March. In addition to hosting its first voter registration training, attended by 80 people, the YWCA has also been talking with potential voters outside of its child care pick-up centers asking clients to register and pledge to vote. “We want people to understand that these policies affect them, and that elected officials impact their wallets every day,” said Beth Maczka, chief executive officer.
  • The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County ramped up its voter education programs for the first time, said Elisabeth Bocklet, director of marketing and communications. In addition to sending out memos to its partner organizations encouraging involvement in voter education, this year it created a voter’s page on its website, and rolled out an online pledge program.

What do the voter engagement efforts of these nonprofits have in common?

  1. Leadership support. These organizations all had buy-in from staff
  2. Tying it to their mission, work, and larger advocacy goals. At each nonprofit, voting is seen to have a direct impact on policies and issues that influence their work and the people they serve.
  3.  Integration. They found ways to incorporate election activities into other client and community interactions.

These three traits are common among nonprofits that have successful voter engagement programs and closely mirror Nonprofit VOTE’s findings from interviews and surveys with nonprofits who conducted voter engagement in the 2012 election. Learn more about the specific experiences of various nonprofits by reviewing the case studies from Nonprofit VOTE’s 2012 evaluation.

Nonprofit outreach pays off. The organizations in North Carolina that participated in Nonprofit VOTE’s 2012 research were extremely effective: 81% of North Carolinians who were contacted by nonprofits turned out to vote, compared to 69% of all registered voters.

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