2019 Election

A Guide to Activities for Nonprofits

The stakes are high for community nonprofits this election season. On November 5, Connecticut will hold elections in most cities and towns for Mayor/First Selectman, City/Town Council and Board of Selectmen, Board of Education, and other municipal offices. These officials will have the ability to shape local policy for the coming years.

Election related activities are part of a larger continuum of civic engagement for many in the nonprofit community. By engaging voters and candidates this election season, nonprofits will further their missions, have a positive impact on communities, build relationships with potential and current elected officials, and increase the general understanding of policy issues important to nonprofits.

See below for more information on how to plan for different events, engage candidates and voters, and comply with state and federal laws throughout the process. If you are interested in pursuing other types of activities, please share your plans with us so we can support your efforts!

Register People to Vote

The Alliance has developed, in partnership with the Office of the Secretary of the State, the availability of a unique online voter registration link for nonprofits. By using this unique URL, we will be able to track how many people registered to vote through nonprofit voter engagement events and activities at the conclusion of the election.

To maximize awareness and consistency, please embed the official “Nonprofits – REGISTER to Vote Here” logo and button to your website homepage or in your email communications.We ask that you please join us in registering as many nonprofit supporters as possible to vote this election season! Below are step-by-step instructions for using the unique URL and adding it to your website and communications.

Here is a direct link to the Nonprofit Online Voter Registration page: https://voterregistration.ct.gov/OLVR/department.do?nvraCode=OP

Nonprofits REGISTER to Vote Here

Copy and paste this code into your website or HTML Email Communication:

<a href="https://voterregistration.ct.gov/OLVR/department.do?nvraCode=OP" target="_blank"><img src="http://ctnonprofitalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/vote-button-300x100.png" alt="Nonprofits REGISTER to Vote Here" width="550" height="183" class="aligncenter size-medium wp-image-6984" />
Voting is an essential activity all nonprofits should embrace by encouraging and educating staff, clients and other supporters. Voter registration efforts have a significant impact on voter participation, and as long as you remain nonpartisan, you can and should engage in this work. In a presidential election, nine out of ten newly registered voters will turn out to vote. Research by Nonprofit VOTE demonstrates that when nonprofits talk to and assist their clients with registering to vote, individuals are much more likely to vote and more likely to talk to their friends and family about voting. Check out more resources from Nonprofit VOTE here.

Registering to vote in Connecticut is usually as easy as a few clicks. You can encourage your staff to register online here and host a voter registration drive with a few laptops or tablets. To access resources and learn more about how to organize a voter registration drive, click here.

Events

Check out these election-related events at nonprofits across Connecticut (more coming soon!)

  • September 24 – National Voter Registration Day

Schedule Candidate Tours

An easy way to engage candidates firsthand is to invite them to your facility for a tour. Whether they are running for the first time or have served for years, it is important for them to experience the work that you do, meet your clients and staff, and hear how you fit into the fabric of your community and our state. Keep facility tours simple and short; limit them to an hour or two and make arrangements beforehand for candidates to meet at different times with your staff and individuals that you serve who are comfortable sharing their stories.

Host a Candidate Forum

Hosting a candidate forum is an excellent way for candidates to hear about the issues directly from their constituents. A “Town Hall” format allows your staff, the individuals you serve, and other community members to ask candidates questions about issues that are important to them. Depending on your focus, the forum can serve to increase awareness about your organization and the community that you support, or address critical policy issues and funding needs. For more information on planning a candidate forum and keeping the event nonpartisan, click here.

Nonpartisan Rules to Follow

Regardless how you engage with candidates, make sure you follow the simple rules outlined below. The Alliance staff is ready and excited to help you plan, organize and execute these events.

The IRS allows 501(c)(3) organizations to engage in election work, but you must maintain strict nonpartisanship – do not explicitly or implicitly endorse a candidate, and provide each side with equal access and opportunity. By following a few easy steps, you can educate candidates and engage your constituents in the political process.

Candidate Appearances: Educating current and potential elected officials about what you do is essential to your advocacy efforts. If you are planning to host candidates at your organization, follow these simple rules and guidelines:

  • You must invite each candidate for a particular office. They don’t all have to attend, but they all must be invited.
  • For both a candidate forum or site visit, we recommend hosting opposing candidates on different dates. This will ensure a productive conversation and may result in better attendance from each candidate.
  • You must give each candidate equal opportunity and provide a similar venue, time and presentation format for each event.
  • You may also invite elected officials who are candidates to appear in their official capacity. If you do so, make sure that the candidate is chosen to speak solely for reasons other than their candidacy. While you can’t control what they say, take steps to ensure that the atmosphere of the event is kept free of campaign activity.
  • Candidates are free to arrive uninvited to any public event you host. If that occurs, take care that there is no actual or implied endorsement.