Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

Nonprofits and Voter Apathy: Missing The Forest for The Trees

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


            You have to wonder if some of us who think of ourselves as change agents sometimes miss the forest for the trees, like during last week’s election which had the worst voter turnout in 72 years at only 36.3%.   See today’s New York Times editorial @  My own very unscientific sampling found not a single nonprofit or advocacy organization website that was reminding or urging people to get out to vote.
            There’s not an issue from poverty and hunger to arts and culture that isn’t profoundly impacted by the public policy set by our elected officials.   The nonprofit sector speaks to stakeholders who care about change. But if we are so myopic as to only talk about our own specific issues, without stepping back to urge anyone who listens to vote, we miss a big opportunity to play a constructive role in combating voter apathy.  That’s not to suggest we become partisan advocates, but rather civic champions.
            Nonprofit achievement is undermined by poor participation in democracy. And participation has become so low that it will take all of us to change it.