And the Primary Season is Upon Us

Finally. It is time to start voting.

On February 3, the first votes in the 2020 presidential election cycle will be cast, starting with caucus night in Iowa. New Hampshire will be right on Iowa’s heels – and we are off to the races.

As we wrote in October 2019 in our monthly newsletter, Voices for Good, the work of repairing and rebuilding a deeply divided nation (work we’d suggest be atop the agenda for whomever wins the White House in November) will require a deep partnership with the nonprofit sector. We hold much of the expertise, the deep relationships with – and knowledge of – community, and the history of being the trusted delivery partner of services and resources intended to ensure that all people in the United States thrive. So, candidates of all sorts, not just presidential candidates, need to know more about our sector and the vital work we do.

One of the other things we know about our sector is that people who work within it, and the people  engaged by it, tend to vote in high numbers. What a great thing! And, logically, as these highly engaged voters sift through their choices at the ballot box, they’ll need information about the candidates.

For all these reasons, we set out this past fall to engage all of the declared presidential candidates, of both parties, in a conversation. This process of nonpartisan candidate engagement is intended to do both of the things addressed above: give candidates a deeper understanding of our sector, and give voters a deeper understanding of where the candidates stand on issues of importance to the work we do.

We invited the lead policy staffers of all of the campaigns to join us at Upswell in Chicago last November. The risks and rewards of the effort were well chronicled in my blog post in Voices for Good.

We also invited each of the campaigns to complete a questionnaire or record a video that would help voters get to know their positions on issues of importance to the whole of the charitable community. As we anticipated, some campaigns responded to the deadline we set, and some did not. It’s now time to share what we received.

We received responses from the Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Amy Klobuchar campaigns, in addition to a recorded video message from the Klobuchar team. Independent Sector encourages you to take the time to review these materials from these three candidates as we now enter into the primary voting process.

We also encourage each of you to think about how you can continue to engage candidates – for all levels of office – throughout 2020. We need candidates at the federal, state, and local levels to hear from changemakers working every day to strengthen civil society. That engagement can take many forms. It doesn’t have to be the path Independent Sector followed. But, whatever path you do choose, remember that there are right ways, and wrong ways, to engage candidates. To help with that, we are again providing a number of helpful and easy-to-use resources on voter engagement and candidate engagement that will keep you on the right side of this line.

I’m leaving you with three requests: use your voice with candidates, know and follow the rules, and vote!


Independent Sector does not endorse or oppose any candidates for public office. A candidate’s fitness for office should be judged on a variety of qualifications that go beyond responses to the questions in this survey.

Types: Blog, Policy Update
Global Topics: Administration, Civil Society, Election, Public Policy, Voices for Good
Policy Issues: Lobbying & Political Activity, Nonprofit Operations