- Our Size
In the last three decades, America’s nonprofit sector has more than doubled in size.
Today, the National Center on Charitable Statistics counts one million registered 501(c)(3)s. There are another half million advocacy and other nonprofit exempt organizations. Taken together, the nonprofit sector employs over 14 million people, engages over 61 million volunteers each year, and serves millions more. In Massachusetts, there are over 17,000 registered 501c3 organizations.
- Our Composition
Of 501(c)(3) charities, the human service sector is its largest part. More than 90% have a social or civic mission. There are larger colleges and hospitals. The vast majority of community-based nonprofits are small to medium sized health care clinics, neighborhood groups, schools and colleges, literacy and job training programs, disability programs, food pantries and affordable housing, new citizen and youth initiatives and the like.
- Our Communities and Constituents
Any map of the nonprofit sector reveals its highest density among underrepresented populations with a history of lower voter participation. In these areas nonprofits have daily contact and connections with large numbers of potential voters through its staff, boards, volunteers, constituents, clients and local communities.
- Our Credibility
In surveys, nonprofits rank high among institutions people trust. A recent Harris Poll gives us a window into who the public wishes had more influence in political affairs. Respondents ranked nonprofits and small businesses as people they wished had more say in politics – second only to themselves!
- Our Social Missions
Nonprofits have social missions of education, service and social uplift. Encouraging voting and other forms of participation is a natural part. An increasing number of nonprofits are including civic engagement into their overall mission no matter the issue they address or the community they serve.
- Our Committed Personnel
America’s service and nonprofit sector is comprised of committed individuals who work every day to strengthen communities and improve the lives of the people they serve. New studies on voting and ‘altruism’ suggest this caring to be a helpful attribute for voting. A powerful reason to vote is the hope for larger community benefits that could affect a lot of people. The research says self-interest is of course part of the equation. The voter may get what they want too! But hoping for a larger group benefit like better schools, affordable health care, greater or or less government action or a cleaner environment – whatever one’s partisan beliefs – is a reason to take time to vote. People who care are better voters and well-equipped to encourage others to do so as well.
- Our Nonpartisanship
The nonpartisan charter of all 501(c)(3) organization is an asset. Nonpartisanship helps create the trust we have among the people we serve. It allows nonprofits to work closely with local election boards and Secretaries of State and other nonpartisan entities involved in voting. In a democracy, nonprofits are a healthy complement to the partisan or semi-partisan entities who support candidates and provide a partisan approach to issues and getting out the vote.
- Our Tax Status
Our 501(c)(3) status is an asset, not always taken advantage of. It is not only legal but well within our missions to encourage civic engagement and voter participation. As 501(c)(3)s, nonprofits and charities can do a wide variety of activities to support voting, so long as they are nonpartisan