Case Study


GoVoteNYC is a group of donors committed to strengthening democracy and voter engagement in New York City.

Foundation Background and Mission

GoVoteNYC is a group of donors committed to strengthening democracy and voter engagement in New York City.

GoVoteNYC has shown that nonprofits, who are also trusted messengers in their communities, can successfully inspire New Yorkers who have not voted in the past to vote in higher numbers, often at double the rate of New Yorkers not engaged by these nonprofits.

GoVoteNYC is a collaboration of around a dozen New York City-based donors. Through pooled funds and aligned giving, GoVoteNYC is providing grants and technical assistance to nonprofit partners working on nonpartisan get-out-the-vote and other civic participation activities in New York City. GoVoteNYC is an open resource to other donors and a platform for sharing information, and lessons-learned in the field.   GoVoteNYC is housed at the New York Community Trust.

”We are building our democracy back up from the roots. From the block, to the neighborhood, to the city, and beyond.”

Neill Coleman, Director, GoVoteNYC


Historically, New York City’s voter turnout for all elections, especially local ones, has been abysmally low, ranking towards the bottom among large American cities, with roughly 1 in 4 registered New Yorkers participating. The GoVoteNYC donor collaborative was formed in 2021 with the goal of changing this dynamic. 

Since then GoVoteNYC has awarded in $2.5 million in grants and over $13 million in aligned funding.  Most of the grants have gone to around a dozen grantees who are either trusted community-based organizations or networks of trusted community-based organizations.

With GoVoteNYC funding, New York Civic Engagement Table (NYCET) helped the other grantee nonprofit partners build targeted voter lists and refine outreach efforts by providing data support and training on the use of new tools. NYCET also offered field support to the other grantees as they implemented programs. 

An independent evaluation of the first two years of grantmaking by the GoVoteNYC collaborative was conducted by Seema Shahl of COMM|VEDA Consulting, and  published in 2023. It showed success in increasing voter turnout through local nonprofits using relational voter outreach, which are methods emphasizing conversations and other types of one-to-one engagement with friends, family, colleagues, members, and clients.

GoVoteNYC grantee partners reached 2 million voters in eight languages, across more than two-thirds of Council Districts in 2021. During the June 2021 primaries, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) voters who were canvassed by GoVoteNYC nonprofit partners turned out at thirty seven percent, a much higher rate than BIPOC voters who were not canvassed — twenty percent. Individual grantee partners also demonstrated an impact on voter turnout:

  • People who pledged to vote with United Neighborhood Houses were almost twice as likely to vote when compared to average city turnout. 
  • Hispanic voters engaged by the Hispanic Federation voted at double the rate of overall Hispanic voter turnout.
  • Voters contacted by a coalition led by the Asian American Federation turned out at a 15-point higher rate compared to the rest of the city (forty percent versus twenty five percent).
  • The work of MinKwon Center’s coalition contributed to a sixty percent increase in Asian-American primary voters in the eight communities they targeted.

GoVoteNYC nonprofit partners also successfully targeted people who had not been voting.

  • Sixty-one percent of people contacted by the Hispanic Federation had not voted in the last three primaries. 
  • Seventy-one percent of voters contacted by the Asian American Federation did not have a recent history of voting.

In addition to tracking higher voter turnout in targeted communities, the evaluation found that the participating nonprofits built fruitful connections with other organizations, laying the groundwork for a strengthened infrastructure for civic engagement in the city. The evaluation noted ongoing challenges, including voter alienation, election fatigue, a dysfunctional election system, misinformation campaigns, and the ongoing effects of COVID-19.  

GoVoteNYC partnered with Columbia University Professor Donald Green to conduct randomized testing on GoVoteNYC grantees’ voter mobilization tactics. The tests, conducted in 2022,  affirmed that there was no meaningful increase in turnout resulting from mass texts and phone bank calls. Relational human to human contact and outreach using existing networks and relationships is much more effective. GoVoteNYC will use this data to inform grantees’ work in future elections.

In addition to the funding for NYCET and trusted messenger partners, GoVoteNYC hosts regular learning sessions for GoVoteNYC funders and grantees.  These learning sessions provide opportunities to discuss opportunities for electoral reform as well as approaches to engage underrepresented communities such as youth and people with criminal legal system involvement.

GoVoteNYC’s current strategic plan and grantmaking is focused towards the 2025 municipal elections in New York City – the next time the mayor, other citywide elected officials and city council members will be on the ballot.