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Engaging In the Elections In a Nonpartisan Way

Updated: Apr 29

Yes, your nonpartisan organization can engage in the elections without upsetting your volunteers, members and donors. Here are a few tips for doing so successfully.

📌 Focus on the act of voting, not who to vote for. This includes encouraging people to register to vote, directing them to a website that helps them locate their polling place and encouraging them to vote once early voting begins (and obviously on election day).

📌 Educate your audience about the connection between advocacy and your organization’s mission. Most people don’t understand it so you need to explain it to them in very simple terms. (If the terms you’re using include “cloture” or “germane” then you haven’t kept it simple. Try again.)

📌 Nonpartisan is different than bipartisan. Make it clear that you are being nonpartisan in your work.

📌 Don’t try to be cute. Oh sure, there are plenty of workarounds to staying officially nonpartisan while still nudging your audience toward one candidate. But, if you’re seeking workarounds that means you’re actually being partisan and your audience will see through this. How to be partisan but still pass legal scrutiny is a topic for an entirely different post. (Said with love to my former colleagues Katherine KarlSiri Buller and Sharon Want.)

📌 Proactively educate your board and leadership team on how relating your issues and organization to the election makes you more relevant to your volunteers and members, not controversial. Address their concerns before they raise them in a big meeting (that you might not be in to defend it).

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