Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Vote With Your Mission!

A new initiative from the California Association of Nonprofits (aka CalNonprofits) is the Vote With Your Mission virtual campaign. CalNonprofit's goal is to have 100% of eligible California nonprofit staff and volunteers (including board members) vote in the June and November elections. According to Jan Masaoka, Executive Director of CalNonprofits, "All of us have come to work and volunteer in nonprofits because we have ideals about changing the world. Whatever those ideals are, use your vote to further them."

I couldn't agree more with the motivation and purpose behind this campaign, and find it sad to realize that folks in the nonprofit sector are not already participating 100% in all elections - in California and beyond. Every day, our staffs see first hand the direct results of political decisions, from increased homelessness to decreased funding for the arts. We see the results of over-crowded classrooms and a poverty-level minimum wage. To not speak out when we must, and vote when we can, is to contribute to the very problems our missions seek to redress.

"But is it legal?" some of you may be thinking. Yes, it is, and CalNonprofits has conveniently included a legal FAQ on the Vote With Your Mission website. All nonprofits may engage in nonpartisan, get-out-the-vote activities. Check the FAQ (or talk to the lawyer on your board) for more detailed guidelines when it comes to ballot measures and issues.

So, what does an organization have to do to participate in the campaign? First of all, sign up at the CalNonprofits website so they know you're on board. Then select from the recommended activities, such as asking all staff, board members, volunteers, and constituents to vote, providing on-site nonpartisan voter registration materials, adding "voting in every election" to your board member responsibilities agreement, or (my favorite) granting two hours of paid staff time to vote on Election Day.

If you're involved with a California nonprofit, I hope you'll sign on at the Vote With Your Mission home page. If you're outside California, I hope you'll still encourage all of your staff, board, volunteers, and constituents to vote with your mission.

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