November 08, 2012

5 Candidates Endorsed for Nonprofit-Friendly Agendas Win Election

While many people were glued to their television sets this week waiting to learn who the country's next president would be, Robert Egger and Douglas Knight were closely monitoring the results of some less-publicized races.

The two nonprofit leaders run CForward, an organization that Mr. Egger founded last year to promote candidates who have strong agendas for strengthening nonprofits in their communities. The group endorsed eight candidates, all but one for a state or local office, and five of them won.

"I can't tell you how fun it was to look at all the returns," says Mr. Knight, who was following city council, state legislative, and other races in eight states.

CForward made its endorsements after scrutinizing the records of 60 candidates across the country who were nominated by nonprofit workers, eight interns who worked for CForward last summer, and others.

The group gave points to candidates who, for example, had a nonprofit background, mentioned the economic importance of nonprofits in their campaign material, or pledged to set up a nonprofit liaison if they were running for mayor or governor.

The CForward candidates who won their election bids were: Kate Bolz, Nebraska State Legislature; Andy Dinniman, Pennsylvania State Senate; Ellie Hill, Montana State House of Representatives; Becky Massey, Tennessee State Senate; and Sam Singh, Michigan State House of Representatives.

All but Ms. Massey are Democrats.

Mr. Egger says he knows CFoward is too small at this point to claim much credit for their wins. But he says he is celebrating the start his group made in pushing the nonprofit world to do more to get their work on the radar screen of political candidates.

"The real victory was for the first time, somebody stood up and said the role of nonprofits in the economy must be accounted for," says Mr. Egger, founder of the antihunger group D.C. Central Kitchen.

CForward, a 501(c)4 social-welfare group, has set up a political-action committee, but this time around, with only about $35,000 on hand, it did not donate to any candidates. Instead, it promoted them on Twitter and Facebook.

Visitors to the CForward Web site were encouraged to donate to the endorsed candidates, but Mr. Egger says the group does not yet have the resources to track such activity.

He says CForward is trying to raise more money as it gears up to quiz candidates in a variety of 2013 mayoral races—including in New York City.

Send an e-mail to Suzanne Perry.