Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Nonprofits Proven Effective in Getting Out the Vote

Written by Caitlin Endyke

Here at Building Movement Project, we believe that nonprofit organizations should serve as robust sites of democratic practice.  Which is why we’ve promoted the work of our partners at Nonprofit Vote in the past.  At Nonprofit Vote, they also believe that nonprofit organizations are ideal sites for civic engagement, and they provide great Get Out The Vote resources that agencies can put to use in their communities.

During the elections last November, Nonprofit Vote was extremely active - most notably leading an effort to get nonprofit organizations across the country to pledge to ensure that all staff at their organizations would vote on November 6th.

Last week, Nonprofit Vote released a report on a Track the Vote program they conducted around the elections last year to test whether or not their efforts were successful in getting more nonprofit clients and staff out to the ballot box.   The program tracked 33,741 individuals who registered to vote or signed a pledge to vote at 94 nonprofits. The nonprofits included a diverse set of community health centers, family service agencies, multi-service organizations, and community development groups across seven states.

What the results of this study show is that nonprofit organizations are a powerful force in getting people engaged in the political process.  Some key findings from the report include:

  • The clients and constituents engaged by nonprofits were markedly more diverse, lower income, and younger than all registered voters in the seven states, made up of populations with a history of lower voter turnout in past elections.
  • Voters contacted by nonprofits voted at a higher rate than the average turnout for all registered voters.
  • The intervention by nonprofits had its biggest impact on turnout among least-likely voters – those that campaigns typically disregard based on low “voter propensity scores” assigned before the election to predict their likelihood to vote. The nonprofit voters with the lowest voting propensity scores were three times more likely to vote than their low-propensity counterparts among all registered voters.

Read the full executive summary to find out more about what motivated nonprofit organizations to get involved, and what capacities they needed in order to successful execute Get Out the Vote programs. 

Many cities and states, New York City included, are looking forward to big elections this fall.  The takeaway from this study is that our organizations can have a big effect on ensuring that everyone’s voice can be represented on election day.

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