News & Views

A blog for those interested in what affects, motivates and drives the New York City Nonprofit Sector — written by CRE’s crackerjack consulting team. We hope you use this space to share your thoughts, ask questions and engage in conversations about our city, social justice and the nonprofit sector.

Every Vote Counts: Stepping Up Your Nonprofit's Role in Civic Engagement

By Louisa Hackett, Senior Managing Director - Community Resource Exchange is joining hundreds of other nonprofits across the country to promote National Voter Registration Day on September 25th. We support nonprofit civic engagement activities because we believe participating in our democracy furthers our mission of fighting poverty and advancing social justice.

Why should nonprofits promote civic engagement?

Nonprofits are connected to people: Nonprofits employ 13.5 million people, we rely on 61 million volunteers, and we serve and engage millions more. Nonprofits serve underrepresented populations who have a history of lower voter participation; 90% of nonprofits have a social and civic mission. Gaps in who votes undermine democracy and our missions and goals.

Over the last 30 years higher-income, older, and more partisan people have voted and been civically engaged. If the underrepresented registered to vote, were educated about the issues, cast their votes, ran for and were elected to office, how might the circumstances we face as a sector change?

Nonprofits are working under conditions often described as the new normal. But really, is it normal to have a country with such a wide disparity of income that 1% of the population has 99% of our nation’s wealth? It is normal for a society to allocate fewer and fewer resources to help people living and dealing with the consequences of poverty? Is it normal for service providers to work with reduced funding while facing increased demand?

I wonder how "normal" would be redefined if more individuals and organizations were civically engaged. I actually still believe in democracy and the role citizens can play in improving our communities. However, democracy can’t work without more people participating. One failure of our democracy is the 51 million eligible voters who are not registered. An even greater failure is voter turn-out: only 35% of eligible voters in New York voted in the last national election.

What are permissible voter and election activities for nonprofit organizations?

On a nonpartisan basis nonprofits can legally:
  1. Register voters
  2. Educate voters on the process (where to vote and election dates)
  3. Provide guides on candidates and ballot measures (from all political parties)
  4. Offer candidate forums (ensuring representation from all parties)
  5. Educate candidates about the issues your nonprofit/clients are most concerned about
  6. Encourage voting. Get out the vote!
How to begin?

Share these resources with your colleagues, clients, and friends:

National Registration Day: nationalvoterregistrationday.org
Nonprofit Get Out the Vote: nonprofitvote.org/
New York Online Voter Registration through the DMV: my.dmv.ny.gov/crm/
Student Voter ID Requirements, by State http://www.headcount.org/student-voter-id-requirements/

NOTE: October 12, 2012 is the deadline to register to vote in New York City for the November 6th Presidential Election.

Join CRE and the Lawyers Alliance of New York for a webinar on civic engagement on October 3, 2012. Registration information is available at www.crenyc.org/calendar. And don’t forget to check out CRE’s Conference Center if your nonprofit needs a meeting space to carry out its civic engagement activities this fall!

Find us on:  CRE on Twitter CRE on Facebook  

News and Views

Tags

collaborations United Way of NYC lower Manhattan harvard business school Philanthropic Collaborative staff Randall Quan Pamela Dicent mergers Mark Light Nonprofit News accountability generative Featured Items executive transition Useful Links rockaways Stanford Social Innovation Review publications Nonprofit Sustainability Ximena Rua-Merkin New York Community Trust grantmakers Valyrie Laedlein Pavitra Menon Ero Gray Albany Board of Directors Data Peter Block President Obama Sector Research Jean Lobell Bill Ryan RFP Holly Delany Cole HR Without HR Nonprofit record keeping I.T. without I.T. nonprofit mergers National and Community Service Huffington Post Governance as Leadership New York City Government Alliance for Nonprofit Management CRE POV Fran's Corner Coaching media National Committee of Responsive Philanthropy Barbara Turk executive grantmakers for effective organizations handling the unexpected hard times leadership New York Karen Erdos HIV/AIDS services providers board and staff relations Development Survey Government News Volunteers nonprofit leaders Government Updates nonprofit start-ups MAC AIDS Fund case statement Advocacy nonprofit accountability Data Starved New York Times internal controls CRE News Client News bookkeeping NYS Budget Barbara Blumenthal civic engagement Funding Updates website, resources, announcements CRE Tips foundations arts fundraising Rona Taylor 30th Anniversary announcment Beth Kobliner Nonprofit Quarterly nonprofit management Needs Assessment queens Maria Mottola guest blogger nonprofit ownership government community Michael Hickey Daring to Lead Interns strategic alliances Hurricane Sandy Nonprofit Tools computers Harvard Kennedy School proposal writing New York Foundation postponed event House Party Louisa Hackett Mohan Sikka jobs evaluation NYCCCOC Neighborhood Based Capacity Building Initiative tips CRE Executive Search cre IT capacity building What is Core? Jeff Ballow Rashid Littlejohn board leadership Fran Barrett