Matters Report: Nonprofit engagement can boost young voter turnout

If the #MarchforOurLives is any example, young people are ready to be engaged participants in legislative action and the democratic process.


Mar. 26 2018

And a new report from Nonprofit VOTE, the Council’s national partner for voter engagement and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) activities, shows that nonprofit organizations can help increase voting among hard-to-reach younger voters.

This new report – Engaging New Voters: The Impact of Nonprofit Voter Outreach on Client and Community Turnout – specifically studied the effects of nonprofit voter engagement efforts among eligible voters under the age of 30. The study, released in March, tracked 39,000 individuals who registered to vote or signed a pledge-to-vote card at one of 122 nonprofit organizations in nine states, including Massachusetts via MassVote, in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

The study not only evaluated the potential of nonprofits and community-based organizations to increase voting among younger clients and constituents, but it also assessed best practices for reaching this population. Notably, signing a pledge-to-vote card has a significant impact: Voters who were engaged by a nonprofit and signed a pledge card turned out to vote at a rate 14.1 percent higher than comparable registered voters who were not contacted by a nonprofit organization.

Other findings include:

Young people engaged by nonprofits were 1.6 times as likely to be Black and more than twice as likely to be Latino;
Overall voter turnout among young voters engaged by a nonprofit (nonprofit voters) was nearly 6 percent higher than comparable voters who were not contacted by a nonprofit (comparable voters) – 61 percent to 55.4 percent;
Young Latino nonprofit voters turned out at a rate 6 percent higher than comparable young Latino voters (52.8 percent to 46.8 percent); and
Young Black nonprofit voters turned out at a rate 5.1 percent higher than comparable young Black voters (59.9 percent to 54.9 percent).

A downloadable copy of the 2018 edition of Engaging New Voters report is available from Nonprofit VOTE here.

More resources and information on voter engagement and GOTV activities is available from the Council’s CareVote initiative, which works in partnership with both Nonprofit VOTE and MassVOTE to support and encourage voter registration and voter engagement drives among our members.