Regardless of political stripes, anxiety about the upcoming election abounds. Citizen participation in democracy is strong. Nonetheless, across the political spectrum the margin between civic participation and political extremism is increasingly narrow. As leaders in a civil society and champions of the common good, nonprofits play a role in helping Montana’s communities move forward regardless of election outcomes.
What should nonprofits consider on election day and after?
- The election outcome could be delayed or held up for weeks. The post-election period could be troubling for nonprofit staff, volunteers, and community members already experiencing many kinds of stress. Having one more “unknown” to deal with taxes all of us.
- Some Montanans are worried about election-night and post-election violence. No matter the outcome, a certain percentage of voters will be unhappy.Fear and anxiety are high, especially in vulnerable populations.
What are some things nonprofits can do?
- Acknowledge the anxiety and fears within your organization and perhaps your communities. Acknowledge that the election will have a significant impact on your communities and constituents, regardless of outcome. Nonprofits can be the source of realistic, tempered, and nonpartisan messages that unite rather than divide.
- Make plans with scenarios in mind by asking the following questions:
- How might your organization and communities be impacted by civil unrest?
- What will your communities (clients, donors, neighbors) be looking for from you?
- How might a contested election impact end-of-year activities such as strategic planning or fundraising?
- Regardless of this particular election’s outcomes, the nonprofit community will continue to serve communities and uphold the common good. Tension will not automatically evaporate the day after the election. As nonprofits, we are asked to be problem solvers and consistently and creatively seek out ways to build stronger communities. Let’s resolve as Montana’s nonprofit community to fulfill our unique role by focusing on how we can help communities come together across differences to uphold the democracy we deeply treasure. The National Council of Nonprofits said it best: stay calm and carry on.
Utilize resources to help navigate the days and weeks ahead.