Introduction

Voting is a foundation and a sign of strong communities. Voting correlates with active citizenship, education, income and other kinds of civic health. It takes an active and engaged public to ensure broad representation and public officials responsive to community concerns.

Today, our democracy is challenged by gaps in voter participation by age, income and education. Younger, lower-income, and new citizen populations participate at much lower rates than older and higher income populations. These gaps lead to other disparities in involvement with government or public policy and other kinds of civic participation.

Why are nonprofits well-suited to address issues of voter participation?
Nonprofit organizations are uniquely equipped to address issues of voter participation – and to help close participation gaps and strengthen democracy.

  • Location: Nonprofit organizations are often located in and serve communities impacted most by lower voter participation.
  • Staff:  Nonprofit organizations bring to bear a group of individuals strongly dedicated to improving their communities for the better and with the ability to make positive change.
  • Trust:  Nonprofit organizations have the credibility and respect necessary to reach out to discouraged, disengaged or new voters or people new to voting and politics.
  • Impact: Nonprofit organizations reach populations missed by political campaigns and are effective at increasing voter and civic participation when they do voter engagement.

Many nonprofits wish to incorporate voter participation work into their other activities, but have been uncertain about what the law allows them to do. This guide answers questions on what they can do to encourage voter participation through outreach and education to voters in their communities.

For more information on the benefits of voting, visit the Research section of our Resource Library.