The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation believes our government works best when more people participate in it. The nonprofit sector plays an important role in ensuring that North Carolinians from all walks of life are informed about government affairs and can exercise their civic rights and responsibilities.
The NC Center for Nonprofits, a longtime grantee of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, has partnered with Nonprofit VOTE since 2008. Nonprofit VOTE houses the nation's largest online library of voter engagement resources for nonprofits. The organization helps nonprofits integrate appropriate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services by providing tools, tactics and strategies they need to encourage more people to become active participants in the civic process.
"Nonprofit VOTE provides the most comprehensive and user-friendly resources for nonprofits on nonpartisan voter registration, get-out-the-vote, and voter education activities," says David Heinen, NC Center for Nonprofits' Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. "These resources make it easy for even the busiest nonprofits to integrate civic engagement into their existing programs and services. By partnering with Nonprofit VOTE, the Center provides our member nonprofits with full access to these excellent resources. We also demonstrate that nonpartisan civic engagement is legal and safe for 501(c)(3) nonprofits."
The NC Center for Nonprofits lists four key reasons that the nonprofit sector should be involved in voter/civic engagement efforts:
It strengthens the voice of each nonprofit's constituency. Elected officials know who votes. They may pay less attention to communities with low voter turnout.
People trust nonprofits. The people served by a nonprofit are more likely to listen to information from that organization than from any other source. If a nonprofit doesn't provide them with information about where, when, and why to vote, then they are less likely show up on Election Day.
Nonprofits make a big difference. Research from Nonprofit VOTE found that 81% of North Carolinians who were contacted by nonprofits encouraging them to register and vote actually participated in the 2012 election. This is much higher than the 69% overall turnout rate in North Carolina.
It's legal. Federal and state laws are clear that 501(c)(3) nonprofits are allowed to engage in nonpartisan voter education, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote activities.
Learn more about Nonprofit VOTE and how your organization can access a whole host of online resources to increase civic participation in your community.