The Role of Democracy in Racial Equity – Non Profit News

know about The Role of Democracy in Racial Equity – Non Profit News

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Since 2005, in VOTE non-profit have worked to help America’s nonprofits engage the communities they serve in voting and elections, with the goal of fostering a more inclusive electorate. But, until now, we’ve never had a clear picture of the involvement of nonprofits, from food pantries and health centers to arts and cultural groups, actually doing voter engagement work. That is: what is the current baseline that we are trying to build on? This is a question I have explored many times, in my role as CEO, with the diverse range of nonprofit leaders on our Leadership Council. Then, two months ago, we came across a recent survey of nonprofits across the country from the Urban Institute. Buried deep in the survey data file, and not reported in any other public documents, was a question about whether the nonprofit organization engaged voters, including work to promote voting, voter registration and voter education.

As we dive into the data, we find ourselves learning much more than just the turnout of nonprofit organizations doing voter engagement work. In fact, we learned about which nonprofits were driving the trend and raising the bar for others—spoiler: nonprofits serving or led by people of color. Industry-wide, 20 percent of nonprofits surveyed worked to engage voters “sometimes” or “almost all the time.” But when you limit the focus to nonprofits that primarily serve Black or Latino communities, participation jumps to 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively. Additionally, when we look at nonprofits run by majority BIPOC boards, the share jumps to 39 percent. And, among nonprofits led by a Black or Latino CEO, half achieved voter turnout (48 percent and 50 percent, respectively). That says a lot about the link between voter turnout and racial equity.

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We also grouped respondents based on whether they were in Democratic, Republican, or battleground states, but these groupings had little or no impact on the likelihood that a nonprofit would engage with voters. Similarly, whether a nonprofit organization was located in a state where voting is difficult or in a state where voting is easier did not affect the nonprofit’s likelihood of achieving voter turnout. This reinforces the fact that the community the nonprofit serves is the primary driver of how likely the nonprofit is to engage voters. The simple fact is that there are underrepresented communities across America, in the bluest of blue states and the reddest of red states, and the nonprofits that serve these communities, wherever they are, are stepping up to help solve the problem.

Other factors linked to higher levels of voter turnout among nonprofits include the services a nonprofit provides (such as food assistance and job training), whether they primarily serve low-income communities, the size of the budget and if they are urban based, but race is still the main one. a factor that stands out above all others. All these data are included in a new report“America’s Nonprofits Get Out to Vote: New Survey Analysis of the Prevalence of Nonprofit Voter Engagement and Its Intersection with Race, Leadership, and the Community Served.”

In some ways, the findings are not surprising. These nonprofits are simply doing what they do best by recognizing and responding to a clear need: the communities they serve are underrepresented in the democratic process. This has a negative impact on the well-being of the community itself, while at the same time eroding any political clout the non-profit serving that community may have. This fact is something we’ve talked about for a long time in our work, and it’s a motivation we hear frequently cited from partners we work with in the field, namely rising up to address a clear community need.

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As a white leader within the nonprofit sector, I see this data as validation that what we’re doing matters. It is often claimed in anti-racism discussions that one of the most effective ways white leaders can show their allegiance is to follow the lead of BIPOC leaders on what they should do and prioritize. This type of following has far more impact than any blog or op-ed a white leader might post about her commitment to anti-racism. As the data in this report makes clear, BIPOC leaders across the nonprofit sector are making voter engagement a priority, along with their work to feed, house, educate and support the communities they serve. that your non-profit organizations serve. White nonprofit leaders, especially white leaders who head organizations that largely serve those left out of the democratic process, should take this as a “track” to follow in developing voter engagement programs for their own organizations. non profit.

And while we’re talking about “inclusiveness,” it’s worth noting that nonprofit voter engagement is about solving problems in an inclusive way. A non-profit organization that limits itself strictly to providing services such as housing assistance or job training, however necessary those interventions may be, is similar to the old parable of pulling drowning people out of the river, but without looking upstream to find out why. they are falling to begin with. That nonprofit organization could spend time identifying the cause of all that upstream drop, commissioning a study, and then lobbying on behalf of those affected for policy changes to fix or lessen the problem. But an even more powerful solution would be to engage the people you’re pulling up from the river in that conversation, creating a space for them to lead expeditions upriver and work toward a positive community solution. This is where voter engagement comes in, along with organizing and leadership development work. It’s about civic agency and making sure those most affected have a voice to identify the problem. This is a fundamental principle that motivates many of the nonprofits we work with to do voter engagement work.

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How nonprofits and foundations can step up varies from organization to organization. It could take the form of integrating voter registration into customer outreach, organizing registration activities at your lobby or in the wider community, distributing nonpartisan sample ballots and candidate guides as part of a voter education effort, or send reminders about deadlines to vote early, by mail or in person on Election Day. Foundations also have a key role: adjust grant language to create space for the nonprofits they serve to do voter engagement work, host or sponsor trainings for their grantees on staying nonpartisan, or even provide direct grants for democracy-building work. If your organization is up to the task, start planning now, see who on your team is with you, where the points of influence are within your organization, and what the organization can realistically do. And know that you are not alone.