There are many reasons for nonprofits to encourage voter participation. Here are just a few:
Wide Gaps in Who Votes Undermine Democracy and Our Nonprofit Missions and Goals
For the past three decades voters have been disproportionately of higher income, older or more partisan in their interests. Parallel to participation gaps are widening gaps in wealth, reduced opportunity for youth and frustration with the polarization in politics. Although this has begun to change in recent elections, turnout gaps are persistent. How would our world be different if everyone participated?
Our Communities Are Not Being Reached About Elections
There are large gaps in who is contacted by candidate campaigns. Millions of Americans–especially those served by the nonprofit sector–are not being reached by traditional campaign tactics like phone banking or door-to-door canvassing.
The People We Serve Are the Least Likely to Understand the Process
Voter participation is a learned activity. A fact that stands out in the literature is the powerful influence of families in voter and civic participation. As service providers and advocates, we can be too. New voters need our help finding their poll, a number to call for help, learning their voting options and understanding what’s on the ballot or the impact of this election on the issues they care about. It’s also true that communities who have been traditionally underrepresented in the democratic process often face significant barriers to voting, both discriminatory and inadvertent (we move a lot).
A Working Democracy Is Critical to Our Nonprofits Goals and Civic Missions
The nonprofit sector depends on good government and fair and open elections. Nonprofits are more likely to thrive in an environment where government is held in high esteem and people are more likely to participate in the process.
Who Votes Matters
Elected officials know who votes. Elected officials and candidates will pay less attention to, make fewer appearances in, and appeal less to neighborhoods that don’t turnout. The people who vote have a powerful impact on public policy and government and influence laws, appointments, and budgeting. Your constituents have policy and political concerns that won’t be heard if they don’t vote.
Voting Benefits the People Who Participate
- People who vote are associated with a host of positive civic, health and social factors. Compared to non-voters, voters are more likely to volunteer, contact their elected officials, and stay informed about local affairs. They are more likely to contribute to their neighborhood’s “social capital” and live in communities where neighbors are in contact with one another. Learn more about the benefits of voting and about factors that affect voter turnout.