GIH’s August/September 2020 Quick Poll asked foundations if they fund voter engagement efforts. The question, fielded in GIH’s August and September 2020 E-Alerts, received 17 responses. While relatively few Funding Partners responded to the poll, over half of respondents are funding voter engagement efforts (N=5) or are considering such investments for the future (N=4).

Support for voter engagement represents an underutilized strategy that is ripe for additional philanthropic investments. Although private foundations face some restrictions related to voter registration drives, funders are able to support a wide range of voter education and get out the vote activities. As described in the Alliance for Justice’s Quick Guide: Voter Engagement Messaging and Activities for Private Foundations, private foundations can educate the public about candidates and the voting process, engage with elected officials and candidates, and promote civic engagement as long as these activities remain nonpartisan.

A growing body of evidence suggests that increased civic engagement is linked to better health outcomes. More health funders are seeking to elevate power in the communities they serve, particularly in communities of color that have faced historical and systemic barriers to voter participation. Efforts to promote voter engagement amplify community voice by supporting the election of representatives with shared values and advancing specific policy priorities such as public investments in education, criminal justice reform, safe and affordable housing, and access to health care.

August Quick Poll question

If your foundation makes program related investments (PRIs), have you made changes to the form or terms of the investment to support nonprofit partners as they weather the financial impacts of COVID-19?

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