• Pat Libby

2 simple ways nonprofits can get involved in the next election NOW

Updated: Jan 15


Many people I know are having a Howard Beale – “I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE” – moment.

Call me crazy, but I think this is especially true of the 12.3 million Americans who work for nonprofits and the 77.34 million adults who volunteer for them.

We’re feeling extraordinary pressure because the stakes are SO high for our organizations, the people we serve, and for society as a whole.

And to a certain extent the feeling that our heads are about to explode comes from a sense that there isn’t much we can do – especially as a staff or board member of a nonprofit.

And that false notion – that nonprofits can’t engage in any type of election year activity – makes me madder than almost anything else.

I’m here to tell you that there’s A LOT YOU AND YOUR NONPROFIT CAN DO LEADING UP TO AN ELECTION!

And yes, I’M TALKING ABOUT 501(c)(3)’s!

Here are two SIMPLE THINGS you can do:

1. Register people to vote!

Since 2010, 25 states have made it MORE difficult for people to vote by putting in place a whole bunch of new voting restrictions.

That means that ALL OF US nonprofit folk have to work even harder to ensure that our staff and the people in the communities we serve are REGISTERED and READY TO VOTE.

Find out what the voter registration laws are in your state and get a small volunteer committee to work on a plan NOW!

It doesn’t have to be complicated – start by putting voter registration forms on your reception desk.

Later, you can legally help make sure those people vote. Nonprofit VOTE has a lot of resources to show you how.

2. Invite candidates who are running for office to tour your organization and meet the people you serve!

A lot of times we’re hyper-focused on the presidential election but there are a ton of candidates running for office – folks are running for city council, county supervisor, seats in the state legislature, and of course, federal offices.

NEWSFLASH, the decisions these people make affect our nonprofits!

Just look at all of those crazy voter registration laws that were passed at the state level, and don’t forget food stamp access laws happen at the county level.

It’s important to get to know these people now – and for them to get to know you – so that when they are in office, they’ll do good things on your behalf.

There is one super simple rule to follow, you MUST (legally) invite ALL VIABLE candidates (not just the people who are at the top of the polls) to your meet and greet.

My friends at Bolder Advocacy have a great fact sheet you can refer to for this purpose.

And for that matter, Bolder Advocacy is the place to go for info on ANY lobbying activity related to nonprofit corporations!).

Getting involved in election work will show people in your community that you care. Working together, we CAN make a difference.

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Pat Libby is a management consultant to nonprofits and philanthropies. She has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations since 1978.

Get in touch with questions or to get more information!

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