Across Georgia in recent weeks, nonprofit outreach workers canvassed the state’s cities, suburbs, and rural areas with a message for millions of residents about the two special U.S. Senate runoff elections: Voting matters – and so does your voice during this pivotal point in American democracy.
Wearing face masks and protective gear to shield themselves from COVID-19, nonprofit workers and volunteers knocked on hundreds of thousands of voters’ doors. They contacted people – particularly in communities of color and other overlooked neighborhoods – at outdoor events and by phone, email, and social media. Voters responded overwhelmingly, casting a total of at least 4.4 million ballots, including on election day and by mail in and early voting.
Voters in Georgia made history, electing The Rev. Raphael Warnock of renowned Ebenezer Baptist Church to be the state’s first Black American in the U.S. Senate. As of late Wednesday afternoon, the razor-thin Senate race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff ended with Ossoff winning.
The voter turnout serves as a remarkable example of how the practice of daily democracy supported by the work of nonprofits is crucial to the nation. It shows how nonprofits build community trust and equity in civil society.
When nonprofits contact people about the importance of voting, turnout is higher than when there is no such outreach. In Black and Brown communities, voting outreach work soared. As Pew Research Center reports, Black, Latino, and Asian American residents have contributed to voter growth in Georgia in the last five years.
As Vox points out, the election of 2020 literally ended days into 2021. But nonprofit staff members, volunteers, and their supporters know the community-building work to ensure that everyone thrives in the U.S. will continue tomorrow – and in the following days when national attention is gone.
As Dan Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector, observes: Every day, nonprofits work tirelessly to build this community trust, which leads to volunteering, donating, and civic participation. This trust culminates in voting. All of this, he says, is the foundation for achieving positive and peaceful change in American democracy.