Harnessing the Power of Nonprofit Voter Engagement

Monday, May 9, 2016

Forefront Partners With Nonprofit VOTE to Help Nonprofits Increase Voting; Issues RFP

I voted stickerA new trend is emerging amongst civic engagement groups across the country: empowering and training nonprofits to build voter engagement into the fabric of their organizations. Instead of searching for ways to bring voter registration to individuals, for example, this new model provides voter engagement opportunities to entire populations with typically low voter engagement at organizations people already visit and trust. Forefront is honored to have been chosen as the Illinois state partner for Nonprofit VOTE, a national organization implementing this model across the country.

"Forefront maintains a great reputation in Illinois and the country as a credible nonprofit convener and advocate on issues facing nonprofits and our communities,” says Nonprofit VOTE National Field Director, Lindsey Hodel. “We believe voter engagement work is a natural extension of nonprofit advocacy, and Forefront is well-poised to mobilize nonprofits on nonpartisan voter engagement campaigns for this November's elections."

Nonprofits have inherent assets that make them strong and capable proponents of voter and citizen participation.

Why Voting?

Because many nonprofits have social missions of education, service and social uplift, encouraging voting and other forms of participation is a natural part of every nonprofit’s mission. An increasing number of nonprofits are incorporating civic engagement into their overall mission, regardless of the issues they address or the communities they serve. Having engaged constituents allows nonprofits to activate a group of voters who support their policy goals. This is important because elected officials and policy makers are more likely to pay attention to communities that vote.

“We are so excited to be part of this project,” says Eric Weinheimer, President & CEO of Forefront. “Civic engagement and education have never been more important.  Now more than ever, voters need to have a louder voice and influence in Illinois.”

Forefront Issues RFP

Nonprofit VOTE’s model increases the capacity of service providers to do voter engagement work and improve models for nonprofits to register and engage voters in the course of ongoing activities. Using this model, Forefront will begin a phase of training and supporting voter engagement activities at organizations with high foot traffic in areas with low voter engagement.

Forefront will select and provide a mini-grant of $1,000 to eight nonprofits from across the state who will commit to registering 250 individuals, attend a handful of trainings and plan an event for National Voter Registration Day in September. Organizations can access the RFP here. Responses are due Monday, May 30th.

If you are associated with or know of an organization with high foot traffic, with customers or consumers living in communities with particularly low voter registration, and staff excited about and committed to this initiative, please let us know! You can send RFP responses to Alison Leipsiger, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Forefront at aleipsiger@myforefront.org or you can call her with questions at 312-327-8912.

Join us on Wednesday May 18th at 10am for a webinar with Nonprofit VOTE to learn more about their model and Forefront’s initiative. We’ll also answer RFP related questions for potential applicants.