A Vibrant Illinois Depends on a Vibrant Democracy

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Request for Proposals: Promoting Greater Civic Participation through Nonprofits

People waiting in line to voteForefront is once again partnering with Nonprofit VOTE to support nonprofit voter engagement tactics across Illinois, ahead of the November midterm elections. Illinois nonprofits can apply for up to $2,000 to support their voter engagement efforts. The application deadline is Wed., June 13. 

Nonprofits represent democracy’s highest ideals of public service, active citizenship, and commitment to a better society. With their natural engagement assets and unparalleled reach, nonprofits are particularly well suited to encourage voter participation. And they have a proven impact on participation when they do.

Nonprofit VOTE’s 2016 evaluation, Engaging New Voters, showed that voters contacted in-person by nonprofits during services voted at higher rates than other voters in their state across all demographics. Nonprofits had their greatest participation impact on voters considered less likely to vote.

“We are so excited to be part of this project once again,” 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.”

Registering and helping people vote is one way to further empower the people we serve. Additionally, voting is associated with a host of positive benefits. Compared to non-voters, voters are more likely to volunteer, contact their elected officials, and stay informed about local affairs. They are more likely to contribute to their neighborhood’s “social capital” and live in communities where neighbors are in contact with one another. Being a voter is associated with better health outcomesreduced unemploymentlower recidivism rates and the like.

Nonprofit voter engagement can benefit nonprofits, our communities, and the nation — far beyond the outcome of any particular election.

Nonprofits’ Impact on Voter Participation

Nonprofits are everywhere. The nation’s human service providers, community development groups, health centers, multi-service and educational organizations are deeply rooted in local communities across all 50 states. Through our daily contact with clients, constituents, staff, volunteers, board members and communities, nonprofits can reach and connect with large numbers of potential voters.

Nonprofits have access to communities that are typically underrepresented in the political processA 2016 study by Nonprofit VOTE showed that nonprofits disproportionately reached individuals who are younger, lower-income, and more diverse than the general public—groups that historically participate at lower rates.

Nonprofits are trusted messengers. People vote when they discuss the election with family, friends or someone they trust. Nonprofits and other civic entities have daily contact with millions of Americans – many of whom may not get contacted by a campaign or discuss politics at home. While many would-be voters are skeptical of political campaigns, they trust community nonprofits.

While nonprofits must remain nonpartisan and not take sides for a candidate or party, that does not mean they can’t participate in voter engagement! There are a wide variety of activities nonprofits can do to support voting, like voter education and registration, get-out-the-vote efforts, and even engaging candidates on a nonpartisan basis.

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 $2,000 to nonprofits from across the state who will commit to registering 250 individuals, attend a handful of training workshops and plan an event for National Voter Registration Day in September. Find the full RFP and application here. Responses are due Wednesday, June 13 at 5pm CDT.



If you have questions, please contact Anita Banerji, Director, Democracy Initiative, at abanerji@myforefront.org or 312-327-8912.