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

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