Nonprofits aim to educate voters

RALEIGH, N.C. – The N.C. Center for Nonprofits has launched an initiative to educate voters about their rights and push for higher voter participation in North Carolina.

Through a partnership with the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, the center also is educating nonprofits on the types of nonpartisan activities tax-exempt groups can organize before the election.

As part of the initiative, the center organized a webinar given by Bob Hall, director of Democracy North Carolina, which was available to all nonprofits in the state, says Sally Migliore, senior associate at the center.

The center also distributed hundreds of copies of voter-registration guides, as well as T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons encouraging nonprofits to get the message out about the voting process.

Though federal law bars tax-exempt groups from endorsing candidates or political parties, it allows nonprofits to engage in initiatives that educate voters about the elections.

“Nonprofits play a vital role in our democracy,” Jane Kendall, president of the center, says in a statement. “By increasing civic participation among their staffs, boards, volunteers and the people they serve, nonprofits send a strong message to our elected leaders that their communities’ voices must be heard.”

During its 2008 statewide conference Oct. 17, the center held a forum with Republican Les Merritt and Democrat Beth Wood, candidates for state auditor.

The N.C. Center for Nonprofits, a coalition of 1,600 nonprofit organizations representing all 100 counties in North Carolina, aims to strengthen nonprofits and help them use their resources effectively.

The Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network, a non-partisan initiative of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, provides tools to help nonprofits promote voter education and participation.

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