Vote SmartThis is already proving to be a remarkable election year. Voters are coming out in droves for primaries and caucuses in numbers not seen for a long time. The buzz word this year is “change” and this got me to thinking about the role that non profits play in change.

Effecting a change of some kind is often at the heart of what non profits do. How can your group really make an impact for your cause during this election year? The public is actively considering the messages, values and positions on the issues they hear from candidates. Make sure that your cause gets noticed this year by those running for office and those who will be voting.

The best example of how a cause can make itself known nationally is ONE Vote ’08. This is a major initiative from the ONE Campaign to make global health and extreme poverty priorities in the 2008 presidential election. The campaign has already gotten much attention from potential candidates, celebrities and political bloggers.

There are many ways that your cause can make itself more prominent during this important time. Katya Andresen has some great advice in her blog post Get the candidates talking about YOU.

Press releases, blog posts, letters to the editor and other publicity are some of the ways you can get the written word out about your cause. How about making a list of 5 to 10 of the most important aspects of your issue? Perhaps you can come up with a list of initiatives you would like to see come to pass locally or nationally. Treehugger has done just that with Ten Ideas For The US Congress: Seize The Initiative.

Doing something active or service oriented can help boost awareness and public understanding of your cause. The Walk for the Homeless in Athens Ohio combines a healthy walk with activism through interactive displays, videos and discussion groups.

Once election time comes nearer encourage your supporters, in a non-partisan way, to vote. Perhaps offer a short synopsis of the candidate’s positions on your particular cause. This could be an article for your newsletter or a special mailing. In many communities the Leauge of Women Voters puts out a voting guide that provides a Q&A with local candidates. Connect with your local Leauge and encourage them to include questions or candidate positions that address your cause.

This year is a great opportunity, not just for us to advocate for our own causes, but also to come together for the good of all.

Posted on 25 January 2008

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