Nonprofit Staff Don’t Vote in Elections? False!

“Nonprofit staff don’t vote.” The Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits tested this. Here’s what they found.

Nonprofit Staff Don’t Vote in Elections? False!
3 mins read

Dispelling the myth that nonprofit staffers aren’t politically active.

In a survey of 560 staff at health and human service nonprofits, a remarkable 100% of senior managers and 92% of “line staff” (non-senior managers) are registered to vote. Wow! And…

  • Nonprofit staff are 49% more likely to be registered than the general population.
  • Nonprofit staff were 21% more likely to vote than the general population (in the 2010 election for governor).

Letting candidates know that nonprofit staff vote 

The Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits (SVCN) is presenting these findings to the county board of supervisors and to city councils, to show that nonprofit staff are voters. “You’ll hear even more from us right before the November election!” vows executive director Patricia Gardner.

Nonprofit staff volunteer more, too

“Not only do we work in the nonprofit sector,” Patricia says, “but we volunteer in the sector — everyone is doing it!” In fact, 90% of senior managers and 72% of other staff volunteer in the community.

“We know we [nonprofit staff] put in extra time where we work, but we’re also volunteering elsewhere,” says Patricia. “Our sector leaders are actively engaged in the community in many ways.”

The top three ways senior staff volunteer:

  • 61% in community activities
  • 57% on nonprofit boards of directors
  • 31% in schools

Non-senior staff are also frequent volunteers, with these top three choices:

  • 58% in community activities
  • 33% in schools and/or scouting
  • 28% religious/spiritual

Just one of the interesting implications: if you’re looking for voters and volunteers, look at the people who work in nonprofit organizations.

For information on how your nonprofit can engage staff, clients, patrons, and community in voting, Nonprofit Vote has a free Voter Participation Starter Kit for Nonprofits & Social Service Agencies.

We congratulate SVCN on being the first (that either Blue Avocado or Nonprofit Vote know of) to bring information about nonprofit staff voting to the attention of the public and the nonprofit sector.

Notes on methodology: SVCN sent two surveys to their members, one of which was sent to mostly executive directors and senior managers,  which about 1/3 responded, while the second survey was given to 15 organizations, which was completed by 1/3 – 1/2 of the line staff in those organizations. A total of 560 people responded. Voting rates are percentages of registered voters. Voting data was gathered and survey data was analyzed by A. Kazimir Brown with Patricia Gardner. Volunteer rates in San Jose were used rather than Santa Clara County as we could not find the information for the county: Note that the survey’s results were likely influenced by responses being more likely to have come from frequent voters.

About the Author

Patricia Gardner is the Executive Director of The Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits (SVCN). She was recognized by the San Jose Business Journal as one of 80 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley.

SVCN represents more than 200 health and human service agencies in Santa Clara County, California, and has taken on a wide variety of issues, from government contracting practices to leadership development.

Articles on Blue Avocado do not provide legal representation or legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice or legal counsel. Blue Avocado provides space for the nonprofit sector to express new ideas. Views represented in Blue Avocado do not necessarily express the opinion of the publication or its publisher.

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