Webinar Rewatch: Philanthropy’s Role Supporting Civic Engagement

As part of our series of events for the Philanthropy for Voter Engagement Toolkit, we partnered with Council on Foundations (COF) and Funders Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP) to host a webinar on voter engagement best practices for foundations. We were joined by Daniel W. Vereb, Community Engagement Manager at Jefferson Regional Foundation, Remy Barnwell, Staff Counsel at Council on Foundations, Nonprofit VOTE’s very own Executive Director, Brian Miller, all moderated by Anita Banerji, Senior Director of Strategy and External Relations at FCCP.

Watch the recording here for the full conversation (embed video icon to watch on the website if possible).

Here are a few highlights from the conversation: 

  • Ways foundations can support grantees and the communities they serve:
    • Provide accurate information – host a webpage sharing information about voter engagement, registration, finding your polling place, and more.
    • Provide resources – easily downloadable pieces for partners – election information, polling locations, enrolled election officials, posters, sample internal language for email and social media content.
    • Provide training to your grantees on why nonprofit organizations should be doing voter engagement work.
  • Impact of Jefferson Regional Foundation’s actions:
    • 47 organizations signed up to be Voter Engagement Champions.
    • 13 organizations participated and were allocated mini-grants of $13K to go towards nonpartisan voter engagement, specifically targeting communities with larger gaps in voter turnout.
    • Voting rates increased in all of the participating communities in the November 2022 elections.
    • Read more about the foundation’s impact in their published case study here.
  • Types of voter engagement:
    • Supporting the communities you already serve, making sure the clients coming through your doors are informed and engaged. For example – if you are a health center, ensure the people you serve are in the know about how voter engagement can impact their community’s health. 
    • Supporting communities regionally, such in civic deserts or underserved communities to highlight other resources and spread voter engagement and awareness specifically to those regions.
  • From Jefferson Regional Foundation – Translating our mission into voter engagement work:
    • We tied our support of health and well-being to civic engagement by emphasizing that a community that participates in civic engagement is in fact a healthy community and that goes back to our mission.
    • We recognize that nonprofits are the trusted partners of the community. And embedding this civic engagement practice into their organizations will increase voter turnout which is what we want in the end. Informed community members participating civically both locally and federally.
    • Our work expanded our civic engagement action, which in turn had organizations advocating for themselves and their constituents.
  • Framing voter engagement in a way that does not polarize voter engagement:
    • The work we do leans into a core set of values. Our democracy works better when more people participate in voter engagement. We need to bring underrepresented people to the polls. Do the people we serve as a nonprofit have a voice? It’s about equity and the core values of inclusivity.
    • The nonprofits are trusted entities – the community trusts those organizations and the information is for educational purposes.
    • Legal perspectives – when we look at the preamble of our constitution, the goal is to get closer to a more perfect union. What we want is more participation and that is the work.
  • Advice to get started in this work:
    • Remind yourself when you go into the space to think about the strategic and mission alignment that is tied to voter engagement. It needs to be anchored in this to be long-lasting.
      • Take the time to think about where it connects to your values. Ex: nonprofits supporting inmates returning to society or health nonprofits and how democracy ties to what we’re funding as a foundation. The rest is how you decide to implement it.
    • Know what you can and cannot do as a foundation or nonprofit, get buy-in from leadership on its importance, seek feedback from the community and what will be most helpful for them, and utilize the resources that are already out there.

Want to bring this resource to your foundation or network? Request a briefing of the Philanthropy for Voter Engagement Toolkit by emailing us at: