Caitlin Donnelly - Strategies for Nonpartisan Civic and Voter Engagement Activities

Non-political doesn't mean non-participation because there are plenty of ways to engage voters and advocate for a cause without wading into risky political territory.

Non-political doesn't mean non-participation because there are plenty of ways to engage voters and advocate for a cause without wading into risky political territory.

This session will explore the rules around voter engagement and how to stay inside the lines regarding IRS restrictions on election related activities. Many organizations don't realize how much they can do to further democracy and help the community they serve to participate in voting and elections and advocate for a cause, ballot measure, or political position. By helping people get registered, educating them about the voting process - like how to find their polling place or apply for a mail in ballot - and important dates, and making voting a visible part of your organization's culture you can help close participation gaps and create a more representative electorate. One major strategy for engaging voters is making sure they understand what will appear on their ballot.

Nonprofit organizations can also take a stand on things like ballot measure questions and causes in the community, including putting out statements regarding their stance and doing some direct lobbying of voters. This session will cover multiple tactics for ballot measure advocacy and address how far organizations can go (and how much they can spend) advancing their position on questions that appear directly on voters' ballots and to advocate for causes and issues within their communities.


Politicians, legislators, and political action committees are aiming their sights at library funding.
This conference will train library workers, supporters, and advocacy groups to build support for library funding in their communities.

Caitlin Donnelly is the Program Director at Nonprofit VOTE. She has more than eight years of experience designing and leading workshops and presentations for nonprofits and grassroots organizers across the country. Prior to coming to Nonprofit VOTE, Caitlin worked at Youth on Board where she supported high school students leaders in Boston to shape school policy and foster civic engagement. Based in Cambridge, MA, Caitlin manages the monthly webinar series and builds the capacity of organizational partners to expand their approaches to voter engagement.

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