Nonprofit Employees, Board Members, and Volunteers: Integral Parts of American Democracy

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Elections are taking place every month in America. This month – and almost every month –you can bet that somewhere in the country, an engaged citizen is stepping up to cast her vote in a special election for mayor, a primary for county supervisor, or a ballot initiative that will directly impact her daily life. In the next five months, residents in more than 400 communities across the United States will go to the polls, exercising their rights as Americans by engaging in the purest form of democracy.

Charitable nonprofits operate in every single one of those 400 communities, as well as every other community across the United States, solving problems and serving local needs every day, every month, every year. Charitable nonprofits work to advance their missions by engaging in their communities and often they are the epitome of civic engagement in their neighborhoods. To many of the people working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector, voting is as much a part of mission and community problem-solving as serving individuals in need and raising the quality of life for local residents.

Individuals who work and volunteer for nonprofits have a stake, and therefore should have a say, in the outcome of elections. It is for that reason that the National Council of Nonprofits has joined with Independent Sector, Nonprofit VOTE, and United Way Worldwide to launch an initiative to make it easy for all nonprofits to promote the most fundamental element of civic engagement: voting. Called Nonprofit Votes Count, the nonpartisan campaign provides a wealth of resources that make it easy for all nonprofit staff, board members, and other volunteers to get registered and ready to vote in whatever their next election is. And then the election after that ... and the one after that …

As a large segment of the electorate, the nonprofit community -- should have a significant voice – IF people registered and actually voted. The nation’s 1.4 million nonprofits employ 13.7 million workers and 62.6 million volunteers; that’s over 76 million unique voices. The Nonprofit Votes Campaign seeks to help these 76 million people who are committed to nonprofits stand up and be counted as civic leaders and as a powerful force in public affairs.

For those who haven’t done it and seen how easy it actually is, registering to vote might seem confusing, or even daunting. That’s why, for individuals, the resources of the Nonprofit Votes Count campaign are designed to simplify the process to register. For nonprofits, the campaign provides helpful resources such as frequently asked questions about staying nonpartisan, sample scripts for having a conversation about voting with your coworkers, and posters and stickers to display the importance your organization places in civic engagement. These and other tools can be found at

Nonprofits are often called on to lead by example, and to lead their communities toward workable solutions. Independent Sector, Nonprofit VOTE, United Way Worldwide, and the National Council of Nonprofits are committed to promoting nonprofit voting and have signed up to show our public support the Nonprofit Votes Count campaign. All nonprofits have the opportunity to do likewise and to demonstrate leadership in their own states and communities by signing up as a partner in this critical initiative in promoting democracy. The sooner your colleagues are registered to vote, the sooner their voices can be heard – not once every four years, not just in 2016, but in each and every election, starting today. 

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