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Need a refresher for your giving strategy this season?

With the midterm elections approaching, it’s important to think about your giving strategy. As we’ve engaged policymakers, activists, private sector leaders, funders, and donors, we learned that leading with a core set of investment principles is critical so your dollars truly further social justice.

Based on research and our 25 years of experience, Tides Advocacy leads with five key questions when we vet the organizations to support before, during, and after election cycles:

  • Long-term game: Does the voter outreach effort sit within a broader, long-term organizing agenda and commitment to the communities it engages?

Organizations that are rooted in communities and do relational, year-round organizing have more success at mobilizing community members to the polls.

  • Independent power: Is independent power being built to influence the key policies and hold elected officials accountable?

Advocacy strategies that strengthen the social capital and political power of under-represented and marginalized communities surface leaders who are motivated and equipped to advance strategies for a range of civic campaigns.

  • Expand the electorate: Do they seek to grow the electorate by engaging people of color and young people who tend to have more progressive views?

Recent research finds that inconsistent or “drop-off” voters tend to be more supportive of progressive policies than conventional “swing voters,” including in 2016. Drop-off voters are disproportionately young people and people of color.

  • Diverse leadership: Are they led by individuals from underrepresented communities, and cultivating local representatives who may be well-positioned to run for office?

Local leadership development builds social capital that remains in the community and can transform the civic identity and level of engagement of individuals involved.

  • Innovative tools: Are innovative tools and tactics being used to secure wins and advance strategy?

While network- and peer-driven pressures prove most effective in mobilizing voters, there has been minimal experimentation with how best to wed these to tech-enabled tactics and hone them to engage hard-to-reach groups.

The midterm elections are front and center in most of our minds right now, but we recommend the above criteria for organizations that are mobilizing on a range of issues and key races, from water board and utility commissions to the Census and 2020 elections to immigration and criminal justice reform. Let us know if there are other criteria you use for your giving during these times.

You can also learn more about organizations working to build long-term political power on our partner page or send us a quick note via contact us.