July 2023 Newsletter: “If we wait until 2024…”
Welcome to Movement Voter Fund’s July newsletter!
Many people know Movement Voter Fund (MVF), as the 501(c)3 nonpartisan sibling to Movement Voter Project.
Our mission is to help funders deploy resources for greatest impact, by investing in grassroots groups working to advance democracy, equity, and sustainability in the United States.
Since 2016, MVF has operated mostly behind-the-scenes, moving as much or more money than MVP, so we thought you’d be interested to know what MVF is up to – from non-partisan voter engagement to capacity building to issue-based organizing, policy change, and narrative shifting. Here is a summary of MVF’s 2023 work and 2024 plans.
As our colleague Javier Morillo likes to say: “If we wait until 2024 to start focusing on 2024, it will be too late.”
In this Newsletter:
- Strategy Memo: Our 2024 Blueprint for Saving Democracy
- Policy Spotlight: Voting Rights: A Key Factor in 2024 Turnout
- Inside the Work: Capacity Building: Stronger Organizations = More Impact
- Advice for Funders: “When Should We Start Investing in 2024 Turnout?”
- With Hope and Gratitude: A Word about MVF and this Newsletter
We hope you enjoy this MVF Newsletter – let us know what you think!
Billy Wimsatt, MVF Executive Director
(On behalf of the mighty Movement Voter Fund team)
Our 2024 Blueprint for Saving Democracy
Democracy is on a knife’s edge. So is every issue we care about. In the 2024 elections, we must protect and expand the voting rights of youth, voters of color, and others from the most marginalized and disenfranchised communities — and empower them to vote in historic numbers.
Local organizations are central to this story. They are the trusted messengers in their communities. They are the ones who will drive historic voter turnout in 2024 if they have the resources to do so!
Our new memo “Want to Save Democracy?” lays out a blueprint for how we can achieve unprecedented turnout in 2024 in the most cost-effective way, through strategic investments in local grassroots organizations.
The memo includes:
- Four pillars of work which position MVF to level up civic organizing.
- Our integrative approach to measuring long-term impact.
- Three key strategies for building power in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.
- Ten case studies that only scratch the surface of our grassroots partners’ incredible work in states like Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Voting Rights: A Key Factor in 2024 Turnout
A key deciding factor in how many youth, voters of color, and other marginalized voters turn out in 2024 will be: who is allowed to vote.
There is a highly-organized, anti-democratic movement in this country, and they are using every tool in the book to diminish the basic voting rights so many have struggled and given their lives for.
Local grassroots organizations are leading the charge to fight back and expand the right to vote, and we have an urgent opportunity now to level up our support for their crucial work. Here are some examples:
- Georgia: Partners including New Georgia Project are mobilizing to counteract an aggressive purge of 102,000 voters, contacting these voters to help protect their registrations.
- Minnesota: Partners including ISAIAH helped pass legislation which restores voting rights to over 55,000 voters, enables automatic voter registration, pre-registration for 16-year olds, and more.
- Nevada: The Let Nevadans Vote coalition led by partners like Silver State Voices helped pass legislation that will dramatically improve ballot access to voters in local jails.
- New Mexico: Partners such as Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) passed omnibus legislation including automatic voting rights restoration for over 11,000 returning citizens and a Native American Voting Rights Act.
As anti-democratic state legislatures push to restrict voting rights, the question keeping us up at night is: Will more democracy funders step up and tip the scales?
Capacity Building: Stronger Organizations = More Impact
INSIDE THE WORK
Funding enables organizations to do their work. Capacity building lets them achieve more with the resources they have. When funders invest in both, we get more impact per dollar.
That’s why we’ve invested in dedicated, experienced staff to build our Capacity Building Program, which we believe sets the standard for excellence in the sector.
We offer tech tools, consultant support, training and coaching, and more, to help our grantees strengthen their work. We can’t overstate how valuable this support is for organizations on the ground.
Our new Capacity Building Overview lays out our approach, and shares examples that paint the picture of where hundreds of grassroots groups have put this critical support to use, including:
- Increasing Black voter turnout in Arizona,
- Countering misinformation in Michigan, and
- Implementing sophisticated voter targeting in Minnesota.
Running grassroots voter organizations is hard. Imagine: What would it be like if grassroots leaders had all that they really needed to build strong, sustainable, scaled-up organizations? That’s MVF’s vision. We invite fellow funders to join us.
“When Should We Start Investing in 2024 Turnout?”
ADVICE FOR FUNDERS
OK, if you’ve read this far in the newsletter, you already know the answer.
We can’t say this enough: If we wait until 2024, we will be too late. Right now is our best window to extend the right to vote, expand voter registration, and make up for a crisis year for giving.
As Alexis Anderson-Reed, CEO of our partner State Voices, put it: “The earlier we begin our work, the more impactful we can be. We can plan. We can strategize. We can ensure that every dollar makes a difference.”
If every pro-democracy funder heeded this call, we’d cause such a surge in 2024 voter turnout that it would reverberate in the headlines in 2025.
If you have a Donor Advised Fund (DAF), we’re inviting you to go one step further by joining the #HalfMyDAF campaign. How it works: Simply distribute 50% of your existing DAF funds by September 29, and #HalfMyDAF will match your donation up to $5,000.
As always, MVF is here to help. Just reply to this email to get started.
A Word about MVF and this Newsletter
WITH HOPE AND GRATITUDE
Over the coming months, you are going to see MVF sharing more about our local partners’ nonpartisan 501(c)3 work.
There is so much to share! Our local partners are running issue campaigns, from racial and economic justice to climate to reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights. They do it all – non-partisan voter registration, GOTV, ballot measures, election administration and protection – and they rarely get the credit or resources they deserve. Behind-the-scenes, they’ve won hundreds of state and local policy victories in the past few years alone.
Their success stems from the deep roots and trust they build. Every day – when no one is looking – they are community organizing and developing leaders; implementing policies; building alliances, doing arts, cultural, media, mutual aid work, training, civic tech innovation, corporate accountability, and so much more. In these newsletters, we will share their stories.
We will also be lifting up the amazing work of MVF and our 18 program, state advising, and capacity building team members, who are rooted in 13 states and do primarily 501(c)3 nonpartisan work helping our local partners and state-based organizing “ecosystems” to grow stronger, thrive, and reach their potential.
The democracy movement is growing. We have more than 500 reasons to be hopeful.
As author Rebecca Solnit says in Hope in the Dark:
“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. …. To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
Let’s open the floodgates of funding to impact the course of this perilous and promising moment in history.
We are grateful for your partnership. Thank you for supporting MVF and our more than 500 local partners in over 40 states.
Thank you for being our partners in this work!
– The Movement Voter Fund team
p.s. – If you have friends or colleagues in philanthropy who would like this newsletter, please feel free to share it!