Advocacy Tips

Your community is relying on you to help them vote this November.

Tip 5 // 8.25.20

It’s never too early to share information about how individuals can be ready to vote in the general election on November 3, 2020. The following templates provide tangible steps to get involved in the democratic process and will help you and your nonprofit engage staff, volunteers, members, clients, and community as potential voters by explaining how they can be ready to vote well ahead of Election Day.

Dear [ Name of Receiver],

Are you ready to vote in the election on November 3? At [insert organization] we believe it’s never too early to make sure you’re ready to make your voice heard in the fall election. To help you prepare, we created a simple checklist you can follow:

Already prepared for the election? Fantastic! Share the checklist with three friends, family members, or neighbors so they’re prepared, too! You can access this information at canivote.org and ballotready.org.

[Organization signature]

Hi! I’m [name of sender] with [insert organization] and we’re making sure our community is ready for the election on Nov 3. Prepare by checking your voting information at canivote.org then share this text with 3 others to make sure they’re ready to vote!

Get ready to vote today!

It’s never too early to make sure you are prepared to cast your ballot by November 3.

  • Verify your voter registration status
  • Learn about alternative options for casting your ballot, such as voting by mail or voting early
  • Learn more about the measures on your ballot
  • Check to see which methods of identification are required and permissible

Use canivote.org and ballotready.org to make sure you’re #voteready and share this post so your friends and family can get ready to vote, too!

[Click here for social media graphics]

Don’t wait! Get #voteready today:

  • Verify your voter registration status
  • Learn about what your options are for casting your ballot
  • Find out what’s on your ballot
  • Check if you need ID to vote

Please Tag: @canivote.org and @BallotReady @IndSector

[Click here for social media graphics]

Thank you for attending [insert webinar or meeting title]. While we’re waiting to get started, we encourage you to get ready to vote by…

  • Verifying your voter registration status
  • Learning about the alternative options for casting your ballot
  • Educating yourself and others about the measures that will be on your ballot
  • Learning about the methods of identification that are required and permissible

You can use canivote.org and ballotready.org to access this information

  • Make it more interactive by creating or using a checklist graphic to share with your posts. It may even be something they can print out and actively check off as they complete tasks to make sure they are ready to vote.
  • Utilize common hashtags like #voteready, #NonprofitVotesCount, or #2020elections to amplify your posts on Facebook or Twitter.

To learn more partnership opportunities contact Neisha McGee, Manager of Advocacy, Engagement and Mobilization. Additional advocacy tools and nonprofit resources  for voter engagement and elections can be viewed in the Independent Sector Election Hub. –  Contact a member of the policy team at publicpolicy@independentsector.org should you have questions or need further assistance.

Did you know nonprofits can promote voter and civic engagement as part of their charitable and educational mission during the election season?

Tip 4 // 7.29.20

Permissible Election Activities Checklist For 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organizations

The nonprofit sector represents democracy’s highest ideals of public service, active participation, and commitment to a better society.  It’s critically important for nonprofits to raise their collective voices to educate the public, voters, candidates, and policymakers about the inequalities that fuel the global pandemic. Whether activities are considered partisan political activity depends on the “facts and circumstances” in each situation.

What is clear it that there’s still a lot a 501(c)(3) can do on a nonpartisan basis to promote voter and civic engagement as part of its charitable and educational mission during the election season:

  1. 501(c)(3) organizations may engage in many forms of advocacy, including nonpartisan civic engagement activities. However, 501(c)(3) resources may not be used for partisan political activities, including supporting or opposing a political party or organization and supporting or opposing candidates for public office.
  2. In an election year, it is especially important for 501(c)(3) organizations to remind their staff and volunteers that certain election activities on behalf of the 501(c)(3) or using the resources of the 501(c)(3), are prohibited.

III. The federal tax code contains a single sentence that defines the prohibition of partisan political activities by 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. It states 501(c) (3) organizations are “prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in – or intervening in – any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for elective public office.”

Review the nonprofit Elections Activities Checklist to ensure that your organization engages in nonpartisan election related activity.

Candidates and lawmakers seek out and engage with communities that have higher voter registration and turnout rates

Tip 3 // 7.21.20

Seven Reasons to Advocate for Voter Participation

  1. Ensure That Lawmakers Prioritize Nonprofit Issues:
    Political candidates and incumbent lawmakers generally seek out and engage with communities that have higher voter registration and turnout rates. This is reflected in more frequent candidate appearances and campaign contacts, including campaign literature, reminders to vote, etc.
  2. Build Community Clout:
    Office holders notice who turn out to vote. As a result, communities with high turnout have better access to elected officials, increased clout, and are in a better position to raise awareness about their issues.
  3. Create Community Advocates:
    Voters are more likely to advocate for their communities and to participate in other ways, such as volunteering for a campaign, contacting an elected official, signing up to be a poll worker, and staying involved in local affairs.
  4. Foster Community-Based Leadership:
    As community members are mobilized to vote, leaders from within the community often emerge, including those interested in seeking office.
  5. Elect Representatives That Reflect the Diversity of Your Community:
    Communities that register and vote are more likely to elect representatives that reflect the diversity and interests of their community.
  6. Reach Voters No One Else Can:
    Because of the work you do, you have access to community members traditional campaigns are often unable to reach. Furthermore, because you are both trusted and respected, your clients and constituents are more likely to respond to your nonpartisan appeals to vote.
  7. Create a Community of Life-Long Voters:
    A registered voter is a likely voter. Typically, more than eight of ten registered voters turn out to vote in a presidential election.1 Because voting is habit forming, helping someone register and reminding them to vote in one election can dramatically increase the likelihood that they’ll vote in future elections.

You can take a bold position on public policy while still remaining nonpartisan.

 

Tip 2 // 7.14.20

The key is to remain nonpartisan at all times, and not appear as though your activity supports or opposes a particular candidate running for office. Here are a few tips to help keep your advocacy on the right side of the law:

1. Advocate in years leading up to an election.

Engaging in public education and activities in non-election years establishes a history of advocacy for your organization, so election-year advocacy is more likely viewed as nonpartisan.

2. Continue normal levels of advocacy in an election year.

Feel free to maintain your organization’s current levels of advocacy, but be careful about significantly increasing activities in an election year – particularly if you’re weighing-in on issues that divide candidates.

3. Respond to an external event.

Your organization is more likely to be nonpartisan if you are responding to an external event, like an upcoming vote on a bill, a news story related to your mission, or correcting the record when a candidate misrepresents facts related to your issues.

Collective Nonprofit Advocacy Is More Important Now Than Ever

Tip 1 // 7.7.20

Nonprofit organizations can take a leading role in providing voters with information with the following activities:

  • Provide voter registration deadlines, election dates, and state election office contact information;
  • Remind voters which documents are needed at the polls, and their rights as voters;
  • Post sample ballots prior to the election and show voters how to use a voting machine;
  • Encourage your constituents to volunteer at the polls on election day; and
  • Share basic information on new election policies that have been implemented since the last time they voted.

This resource provides general guidance only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Visit independentsector.org/resource/voter-education to learn more.