With election season heating up, a new campaign seeks to harness the voting power of the nation’s 1.5 million nonprofits and their army of workers and volunteers.
Nonprofit Votes Count, a nonpartisan effort launched by Independent Sector, the National Council of Nonprofits, Nonprofit VOTE, and United Way Worldwide, encourages charities to promote voter registration and participation among their boards, staff, volunteers, and networks.
"Voter registration is the first step in making our voices heard as citizens," said Geoff Plague, vice president of public policy for Independent Sector. "And when it comes to civic engagement, it is critical that, as nonprofits, we practice what we preach. This campaign will help grow our collective impact and bring new voices into the conversation."
Through its website, the campaign offers resources including a voter-registration toolkit with sample scripts and tips on asking someone to register, a guide to planning and running a registration activity, and information about registering in each state. The website also provides guidance on questions like "What election activities are prohibited for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations?" and "Can nonprofits take positions on ballot measures?"
According to a 2012 study from Nonprofit VOTE, voters contacted by nonprofits had a higher turnout rate across all demographics, even among those considered the least likely to go to the polls.
The campaign, which is being promoted on social media with the hashtag #NPVotesCount, urges nonprofits to help all eligible staff to register or update their registration before or on National Voter Registration Day on September 22.