Nonprofits cannot get involved in politics and elections, but they can piggyback off of them! Here’s a simple road-map to identify how your nonprofit can benefit from elections this fall, and some ideas for how to go about it. At minimum, you can boost attendance to your already planned events, increase your network, improve your brand, and raise more awareness for the issues that you care about.
Identify What Platform Issues Relate to Your Nonprofit Mission
During presidential election cycles, Americans pay more attention to critical social and economic concerns – especially those that are hot button issues. You need to identify what the issues are that voters in your market care about and then brainstorm how your work connects to those issues.
- Check national and local polls. Pew Research Center identified the top 2016 voter concerns as Economy (84%), Terrorism (80%), Foreign Policy (75%), and Health Care (74%). Pew also breaks these numbers down to what Democrats versus Republicans care about and what certain age groups care about.
- Read the news. What is happening locally in your area might have more connection to you than national platforms.
- Once you’ve identified both broad and narrow issues, ask yourself, what are we doing that relates to these issues? Your impact might be direct or indirect. You might be helping your local economy by creating jobs, or you might be indirectly helping health care by creating walking trails in your community. The key is to think of ways to link your work to ideas and problems that people really care about and that are receiving a good amount of press and attention because of the election.
Also read: 17 Mistakes Fundraisers Can Stop Making Now
Reach out and Connect to Campaigns for Publicity
You don’t need fancy outreach materials, but just a few talking points about what your organization is doing that directly relates to campaign issues. Call campaign offices and strategize how you can work together.
- Ask for comments to put in press releases. If you get a comment from a candidate, you probably have a better chance of media picking up your story. You can mine articles and news stories as well and send in comments and reactions for visibility.
- Ask for comments for your website and social media, and link articles about politicians. If you can link campaigns and names, you might be able to receive more web traffic for your outreach materials in general or for those pertaining to particular programs.
Plan at Least One Fundraiser Tying to Elections
Once you’re prepared with your alignment on key issues, you can play on emotions and charged moments during campaigns to help your fundraising efforts.
- Host an event and ask the candidates to come and speak. This is the simplest way to take advantage of an election, and you don’t need to be tied too closely to campaign issues to make it work.You need to be careful to show that you do not lobby on anyone’s behalf and are just hosting open dialogue.People will come just because they are interested in hearing the candidates. You can hold a traditional cocktail party or luncheon, or invite the candidates to your restaurant fundraiser or other simpler event to pull more attendance. If you can’t get the actual candidates to come, you might be able to persuade a representative from the local campaign.
- Organize social media blasts for micro-donations directly during and after debates. The first presidential debate is on Monday, September 26th at 9:00 Eastern time. (See full schedule of national debates here.)Your director could tweet out reactions during the debates to your network of followers, asking for small donations. You could also send an email following the debate or first thing in the morning quoting the candidates and linking your work to their messages. The key is to take advantage of media dialogue and heightened engagement within your market!
- React to campaign propaganda and advertising. Take advantage of familiarity within your demographics of popular and negative campaign ads alike by mimicking them in a video or an email fundraiser. Turn the message into what you are doing to help solve a problem that has gained focus.
- Try a “get out the vote” fundraiser. Ask supporters to not just vote on Election Day, but to also donate to your cause to empower participation and to help solve a particular problem. You could make this appeal a crowdfunding campaign that closes on Election Day and ties to an important issue in the election.
Your nonprofit can easily piggyback off of elections and all of their buzz to boost fundraising and awareness. You are solving the problems that are being spoken about, so take advantage of the moment to help your mission!