Election Series Part 1: Pre-Election Advocacy 


Tim Mooney, Leslie Barnes, Quyen Tu


On this episode, we discuss the unprecedented electionyear challenges we face and the ways all nonprofits can help ensure a safe election. As trusted messengers, nonprofits can explain voting options and deadlines; encourage absentee voting and a new generation of poll workers; conduct election protection programs; support and join litigation and even facilitate voting and promote increased voter turnout. 

This is the first of a three-part seriesPart 2 on Election Day(s) Advocacy. Part 3 on Post-Election Advocacy. 

Our attorneys for this episode:

Leslie Barnes Tim Mooney Quyen Tu

Show Notes

  • Election-year challenges 
    • Dangers for in-person voting 
    • Massive poll worker shortage 
    • Monumental increase in voting by mail 
    • Predictions for contested elections/delayed results 
    • Defunding the United States Postal Service 
    • Interference in the election by foreign and domestic actors 
  • Reminder – 501(c)(3) organizations must remain nonpartisan  
  • When We All Vote Video – Voter Registration Drives 


    • Created by a c3, When We all Vote
    • Shared by a c3, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
    • Nonpartisan – no support or opposition for any candidate for elected office
    • Explains how schools can create and promote a voter registration drive
    • Explains how volunteers can share news of newly registered voters on social media
    • Safe for community foundations and c4s too!
    • Special rules exist for private foundations
    • Can’t buy votes. Don’t exchange anything of value for someone completing a voter registration form or voting.
    • Can spend money to facilitate voting – Examples
    • Must also follow state law regarding voter registration and drives
    • IRS permits targeting voter outreach for nonpartisan reasons
  • Fair Fight Action Video – Vote By Mail/Voter Education
    • Encourages Georgians to vote by mail to shorten lines for those who must vote in person and reduce risk for all

  • Houston Justice Coalition Post

    • Safe for c3s and c4s to share government messages
    • Nonprofits can volunteer their space for voting/polling centers
  • Best practices for 501(c)(3)s
    • Nothing can support or oppose candidates
    • Avoid mixing issue advocacy with voter registration/GOTV/voter education
    • No candidate pledges
    • Any interaction with candidates? Offer the same info to others running
  • Best practices for 501(c)(4)s
    • Can support or oppose candidates – track efforts – secondary activity
    • Be aware of state laws
    • Don’t coordinate efforts with federal (and usually) state candidates
    • Report independent efforts under campaign finance laws


Non-Bolder Advocacy Resources