Friday, February 22, 2013

Nonprofit Voter Engagement Webinar Materials

Yesterday's webinar, Getting Started with Nonprofit Voter Engagement, is now available. Thank you to Isela GutiƩrrez-Gunter for joining us to discuss how nonprofits can participate in 2013 elections.

Watch the presentation on YouTube. If you subscribe to our channel, you'll be notified whenever new content is posted. You can also download the PowerPoint presentation and the audio portion of the presentation, or browse all of our nonprofit voter engagement resources.

Does your community have elections this year? See the U.S. Conference of Mayor's list of 2013 mayoral elections.

Registration is now open for our March webinar, Being Nonpartisan: Voter Engagement for 501(c)(3) Nonprofits. Sign up today!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tomorrow: Getting Started with Voter Engagement

There's still time to register for tomorrow's webinar!

Get Started with Nonprofit Voter Engagement
Thursday February 21st, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern

Looking for an introduction to nonpartisan voter engagement for nonprofits? Join us for an overview of nonpartisan dos and don'ts, as well as effective tactics for voter registration, voter education, ballot measure advocacy, candidate engagement, and get-out-the-vote efforts. We'll focus on ways to help you integrate outreach into services you already provide. Register today!

Featured Presenter: Isela GutiƩrrez-Gunter is currently a consultant with Nonprofit VOTE and previously led the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Project at Democracy North Carolina. Her prior work experience includes advocacy around statewide juvenile justice reform in Texas and local drug policy reform in Seattle, WA. She has a BA in History from Scripps College and a MSW with an emphasis on Community, Management, and Policy Practice from UNC-Chapel Hill.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Four Reasons to Get Involved in Local Elections

Although local elections lack the prominence of presidential races, they are a great platform for nonprofits to begin or to expand their voter engagement efforts. Participation tends to be lower in local races because many voters don't understand the offices, know who the candidates are, or because there is less campaigning. Your nonprofit can fill this void and raise participation rates by focusing on voter education. Here are four reasons to get involved with a local election this year:
  1. Knowledge and Power for Your Community. Comprehensive voter education can build both knowledge among and power for your constituents. Empowering your community in local elections can encourage other civic habits in addition to benefiting your organization. 
  2. Fewer Voters and Greater Impact. Because fewer voters cast ballots in local elections, your potential to impact the election is enormous. Registering and turning out even a small number of voters can dramatically change the landscape of an election. 
  3. Greater Access to Candidates. It's easier in local elections to connect with candidates. It's also a great way to raise the profile of your organization. You can forge relationships that benefit your community now, and that also have the potential to pay off as local candidates are elected to higher office. 
  4. The Results Matter. Local races may not be as popular as presidential races, but they nevertheless impact policy, zoning, spending decisions, school organization, and much more. 
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has released its list of 2013 mayoral races. If there is an election in your community this year, don't sit it out. There is an enormous need to increase voter participation in local elections and no matter what your organization does, you can positively impact your community.

Friday, February 1, 2013

2012 Spotlight: Boys & Girls Clubs of America

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America's 2012 "Our Voice, Our Choice" campaign effectively combined many elements of the Nonprofit VOTE voter engagement model.

1. Commitment from the top. "Character and Citizenship" is one of BGCA's six program foci, and the vice president responsible for this area was able to get institutional buy-in for voter engagement as a natural extension of this core commitment. This helped ensure the various campaign elements were seen as sanctioned and pre-approved.

2. Planning. High level buy-in was secured in part because the Director and Assistant Director for Character and Citizenship developed a thoughtful and organized multi-stage plan months in advance. They organized voter engagement activities into five "pushes," indicating different activities for staff and program participants, at the national office, and among affiliates. Unlike a spontaneous activity proposed last minute during the height of an intense election season, this prepared approach allowed for internal review, approval, and support.

3. Branding. BGCA developed an attractive "Our Voice, Our Choice" logo that became ubiquitous within and among BGCA affiliates (though it was not part of BGCA's external communications). The campaign tagline, "Great citizens start here," played off a familiar BGCA motto, "Great futures start here."

4. Built in, not tacked on. The BGCA campaign generally didn't require extra resources because most activities were incorporated into existing youth programs and leveraged existing policies:
  • National staff: BGCA's campaign plan included a range of activities throughout the various stages, including: Pre- and post-campaign "We the People" quizzes with prizes; iCivics online games; "Lunch & Learn" with county board of elections officials; fun videos made in-house; red, white, and blue "jeans day"; cupcakes and sodas on Election Day; an online guide to activities, and; a special HR memo explaining their paid leave policy for voting.
  • Local clubs: BGCA utilized existing communications channels--primarily their internal intranet "online communities"--to provide their 4,000 affiliates and 45,000 staff members with regular messages and reminders as well as well as links to Nonprofit VOTE resources and election information. Local clubs incorporated mock elections, iCivics quizzes and games, and voting activities into ongoing youth programs.
5. Having fun! From the start, the campaign was designed to be fun and festive. BGCA produced a man-in-the-street style video to find out what people know about voting, the national office hosted "Lunch & Learn" sessions, youth played iCivics games online, and Election Day itself was a celebration of democracy featuring balloons and festive attire.