Vote. Then get to work!
Updated: Mar 26
Is it just me, or does it seem to you like most Americans have heartburn-level anxiety about the November election?
As nonprofit leaders, we have to do everything in our power to make sure that people are registered and vote.
And in case you need reminding, registering people to vote as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit does NOT count as political activity.
In these days of virtual interaction, your nonprofit can do two simple things:
Send an email to the community of people you serve with a link to information on how to register to vote. In California, and many other states it’s this easy: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration/
A few weeks later, send a follow-up reminder to vote. Along with a link to the voter INFORMATION GUIDE for your state.
If you want to be more ambitious, you can link up with the amazing people at the League of Women Voters in your area to sponsor a Q&A about the ballot to educate yourself and other folks on the candidates and issues.
After that, no matter who wins, we have to get to work.
We have to get to work making laws and changing laws that benefit the people we serve, empower our communities, and our nonprofits.
How do our overworked and stressed-out selves begin to understand how to do this?
If I can explain it, you can do it.
In fact, I created a simple 10 step lobbying model that even a poodle could use it to pass a law (well, maybe not a poodle in actuality but you certainly could).
I’ve taught tons of folks how to lobby on a barebones budget and they’ve managed to pass some pretty amazing laws that have dramatically changed countless lives.
If you’d like to know more, you can check out the second edition of The Lobbying Strategy Handbook which is getting ready to appear on bookshelves in November!
If you’re into textbooks or teaching lobbying, you’ll find this a user-friendly read from Oxford University Press.
In it, I explain the lobbying rules for nonprofits in a way that you AND your board can understand or, even easier, you can watch this video on my website to learn together.
(And if you want more back-up, the wonderful folks at Alliance for Justice Bolder Advocacy can help).
Not understanding the rules is the #1 reason why nonprofits don’t get involved in political activity.
The time to get active is now!
Want more resources and ways to get out the vote? Dedicate an hour to a text or phone bank! These events are fun and easy to plug into. As an added plus, you can connect with other people who are feeling the same election anxiety (and passion)!
To get you started, here are a few organizations that are orchestrating text and phone banks:
Bend The Arc - "Vote out fear" text-bank
Women's March Action - Text bank to re-register voters
RAICES Texas - Text for migrant justice
Pat Libby is a nonprofit consultant and author of The Lobbying Strategy Handbook: 10 Steps to Advancing Any Cause Effectively, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. She has served as an academic, senior executive, board member, and consultant to innumerable nonprofit organizations and foundations for more than three decades.
Get in touch with questions or to get more information!