Nonprofit Election Toolkit
The Alberta Nonprofit Election Toolkit is a practical guide for nonprofits wishing to engage in advocacy during the 2019 provincial election. This Toolkit is intended to help inform a range of nonprofit stakeholders, including executive directors, staff, board members and volunteers, about the context, rules, and strategies that can be used to support nonprofit contributions to public policy dialogue and development.
No matter how you use this Toolkit, our intent is that it contributes to a healthy and participatory democratic process through the invaluable contributions of the nonprofits across Alberta.
Toolkit chapters can be read sequentially for a complete picture, or individually based on the needs and interests of your organization. Individual chapters can be downloaded below.
Chapter 1: Advocacy is a Journey, Not a Destination
Advocacy is an activity performed by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Nonprofits often turn to advocacy work when seeking to achieve systems-level change that could not be accomplished through service delivery alone.
No matter where you are in your advocacy journey, it is important to remember that engaging in advocacy is a long-term commitment that requires persistence and dedication while working towards your desired outcome. This chapter contains valuable insight that will help put the Nonprofit Election Toolkit into context to keep you motivated beyond election cycles and throughout your advocacy journey.
CHAPTER 2: Why Advocacy Matters: The Crucial Role that Nonprofits Play
We live in a world of budget and resource limitations, differing opinions and conflicting priorities. Engaging in advocacy is an opportunity for nonprofits to share their priorities with the public, represent communities, advance policies, and promote funding of meaningful objectives. Nonprofits engaging in advocacy work bring benefits to communities at large, and also bring benefits to the organization through opportunities of attracting greater attention and creating broader impact.
CHAPTER 3: Why Nonprofits Matter: 3 Major Contributions of the Nonprofit Sector
In advance of the upcoming provincial election, it’s important for nonprofits to recognize the potential influence they have, and meaningfully engage in public policy dialogue to capture the attention of political parties and candidates. Nonprofits have a profound impact in Alberta and it’s important that organizations talk about the value of the sector as a whole – but it can be challenging to communicate the greater value of the sector to government. To help articulate this, we’ve highlighted three major contributions of the nonprofit sector that demonstrate its collective impact on society and the economy.
chapter 4: Navigating the alberta government
You can empower your nonprofit to engage with the Alberta Government by knowing more about the types of decisions it makes, and the services and programs it provides. Being aware of the appropriate avenues to address policy concerns is one of the first steps towards effective advocacy and engagement for your nonprofit. This knowledge can elevate your advocacy efforts by ensuring the actors targeted are well positioned to listen, consult, and provide actionable solutions to your concerns.
CHAPTER 5: RULES OF ENGAGEMENT FOR NONPROFIT ADVOCACY
Before engaging in public policy advocacy, nonprofits should make sure they understand the rules and regulations around what they can and cannot do, so that they can engage with clarity and confidence. Knowing the rules can empower your nonprofit to lead and provoke important discussions. An election is a great opportunity to advocate for public benefit. The first steps to becoming informed, involve the understanding of three relevant regulatory areas: Canada Revenue Agency’s Regulations, Lobbying in Alberta, Third-Party Advertising in Alberta.
CHAPTER 6: SETTING A POLICY AGENDA
There are no step-by-step rules or established set of parameters that nonprofits can follow to ensure success when seeking public policy change. What we can do, though, is develop a policy agenda – a set of issues or problems aimed at gaining the attention of policymakers and decision-makers – sometimes known as the “policy ask”. Setting a policy agenda involves many components, including: identifying the issue, forming a clear goal or goals, framing the issue, and creating conditions for success.
CHAPTER 7: DEVELOPING AN ELECTION ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY
If your nonprofit has spent time determining a policy agenda, it’s time to develop an action plan for engagement. The development and implementation of an engagement strategy is often when the work becomes publicly visible. Choosing to make your policy priorities visible is a significant step for your nonprofit and should be approached in a coordinated and strategic manner. This chapter focuses on tackling the shorter-term objectives through various tactics, which all work toward achieving your longer term advocacy goals.
CHAPTER 8: TIPS FOR ENGAGING WITH THE MEDIA
Engaging with media outlets is one tactic to consider in your engagement strategy. Media exposure can help bring awareness to your causes and start public dialogue and collaboration among community members. This chapter highlights tips provided by CCVO’s trusted contacts in media, that can help make your outreach to media more effective.
CHAPTER 9: GET OUT THE VOTE AND JOIN #NONPROFITSVOTE
There is no more direct and powerful influence in an election cycle than casting a vote, and encouraging others to do so. Imagine the full force of the more than 26,000 nonprofits in Alberta joining together in an exciting and fun campaign to get out the vote. CCVO has launched the nonpartisan #nonprofitsvote campaign to encourage nonprofits to not only vote and encourage others to do so as well – but to also talk about the issues that matter to nonprofits, get informed on the parties’ positions on important issues, and have fun while doing it!
CHAPTER 10: AFTER THE ELECTION
Following the election, while the shock waves of the campaign still echo, it’s time to start focusing your policy priorities and planning your advocacy efforts for the future. That’s when the real work begins.