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Voter Engagement

Nonprofit organizations have a unique opportunity to address issues of voter participation. We can help close participation gaps and strengthen democracy.


Nonprofits are often located in and serve communities with lower voter participation.


Most of us nonprofit professionals are extremely dedicated to improving our communities for the better. We have the ability to make positive change.


Nonprofits have the credibility and respect necessary to reach out to discouraged and disengaged voters. There is great opportunity to make the process less daunting and more meaningful for those who are new to voting and politics.


Nonprofit organizations reach populations missed by political campaigns. We are highly effective at increasing voter and civic participation when we actively engage people in the voting process.

what are the rules?

This webinar training session answers questions on what nonprofits can do to encourage voter participation through outreach and education to voters in their communities.


educating voters

"Distribute Ballot Measure Guides

Ballot measures are about laws or constitutional amendments, not candidate elections. You may advocate for or against a ballot measure as a lobbying activity. You may also choose to distribute nonpartisan information on ballot measures as a nonpartisan voter education activity.

Take a position

  • † Sign onto a coalition or a public statement advocating a “yes” or “no” vote.
  • † Pass out materials to your constituents explaining why to vote “yes” or “no” on a ballot measure.
  • † Report advocacy expenditures, if any, as a lobbying activity subject to normal limits on lobbying.
  • † If your nonprofit lobbies, you should file the 501(h) Election with the IRS to standardize lobbying reporting on your 990, including a clear guideline for lobbying spending.

Distribute neutral voter guides on ballot measures that explain the measures but don’t take a position for or against passage.

  • Find a neutral ballot measure guide that discusses what happens if the measure does or doesn’t pass. You can often find nonpartisan ballot measure guides from the same sources that produce candidate guides.
  • Remember, nonpartisan voter guides are education, not lobbying. There are no financial or time restrictions on a 501(c)(3)’s nonpartisan ballot measure education activities."

a local context


A chief example of how we’ve transformed our community through a local ballot issue can be seen within our own sector. In 2006, arts and culture projects, organizations and artists were supported with millions of dollars through the passage of Issue 18. This allowed for a 30-cent tax on each pack of cigarettes sold in Cuyahoga County to be dedicated to the support of arts and culture. Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the public subdivision responsible for distributing the funds, has supported organizations that have significantly improved the lives of greater Cleveland residents and beyond.

Whether you consider your right to vote a unique opportunity or your social responsibility, please make your opinion count through your vote. It's amazing such a small act can make such a difference.

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