2022 Voter Engagement Grants

MCN is excited to offer grants to Minnesota nonprofits to promote voter engagement in the mid-term 2022 elections. We have two grant funding opportunities available to nonprofits.

Category 1 grants are designed for nonprofits that are able to do critical elections engagement work in their communities, whether that organization has done voter engagement work in the past or whether this will be their first foray into the work. These grants are for $5,000. We expect most applicants to request the full $5,000, but are allowing for smaller grants if an organization wouldn’t be able to use the full $5,000. MCN expects to award 22 of these grants.

Category 2 grants are designed for nonprofits that have a history of organizing their communities around voter engagement or other important community issues (such as Census, issue-based advocacy, etc). Organizations who apply for this grant will need to illustrate past community organizing efforts. Organizations can apply for an amount between $10,000-$25,000. We anticipate granting 4-8 Category 2 awards, depending on proposal amounts.


    Apply here     


What Role do Nonprofits Play in Voter Engagement?

Voting is a critical part of our democracy and nonprofits play an important nonpartisan role in elections. As nonprofits, we can encourage our communities to register to vote, inform constituents about voting process such as dates and deadlines, share what is on the ballot, and remind people to vote on Election Day. We are all stronger when communities are using their voice and power to help shape and change systems that impact them every day – especially communities that have been historically disenfranchised from our country’s democratic processes. Be part of the movement and consider applying for these grants!

This fall will be a busy time in Minnesota election races – all eight U.S. House of Representatives seats, the entire Minnesota House and Senate (201 seats), governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state auditor, and more are up for election this November. Check out our webpage on Nonprofits & Elections for more information.

Grant Overview

Applications for both grant categories are due on Wednesday, July 6 by 5pm CST. Please send questions or concerns to Ileana Mejia, MCN public policy advocate.



Application Requirements

  • Organization must be an IRS tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, or be fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) organization.
    • 501(c)(3) organizations: Submit a copy of your IRS Tax-Exempt Letter certifying your status as a 501(c)(3) with this application by emailing that document to Ileana Mejia.
    • Fiscally sponsored organizations: Submit your fiscal sponsor's 501(c)(3) IRS Tax-Exempt Letter, and your written, signed fiscal sponsorship agreement with the fiscal sponsor by emailing those two documents to Ileana Mejia. If a fiscally sponsored organization is awarded a Nonprofit Voter Engagement Grant, the fiscal sponsor will be the grantee. For this reason, a fiscal sponsor is eligible to receive more than one grant.
  • Organization must engage with voters who historically have not been included in voting engagement efforts. These communities include: Black, Indigenous, and communities of color, immigrants who have become citizens, people with disabilities, people who are renters, college students, LGBTQ, low income, persons formerly not eligible to vote due to involvement with judicial system, people experiencing homelessness, and residents of rural Minnesota.
  • We are particularly interested in funding:
    • Culturally-specific organizations, which are defined for these grants as organizations whose mission is specific to and rooted in an ethnic, racial, or cultural community or communities that has/have been historically marginalized, and whose broadly defined leadership (board and staff) largely reflects the constituents they work with and are rooted in historically disenfranchised communities.
    • Organizations focused on people in rural areas of Minnesota.

Expectations

  • Grantees will conduct all activities in a nonpartisan manner.
  • Grantees will use funds for the intended purposes and will not engage in illegal activities. Note that it is illegal to provide incentives for people to vote. (More on voter engagement rules).
  • Grantees will need to track to the best of their ability and report the number of contacts made through various activities funded by this grant, such as event attendees, social media connections, calls made, etc. This information will be requested at time of evaluation.
  • Evaluations are due Wednesday, November 30 at 5pm CST. You can find a link to the initial evaluation questions here. These evaluations help us to show your funders the amazing work you are doing, in turn making grants like these more likely to be available again in the future.
  • In late September we will be asking grantees to share a few sentences about their work thus far in the hopes of sparking new ideas or starting dialogue between organizations doing similar work.

Grant Funding Tiers (applicants can apply to one of the following grants)

 

Category 1:

$5,000 to support the cost of voter engagement efforts leading up to 2022 mid-term elections.

These grants are designed for nonprofits that can do critical elections engagement work in their communities, whether that organization has done voter engagement work in the past or whether this will be their first foray into the work. We expect most applicants to request the full $5,000, but are allowing for smaller grants if an organization wouldn’t be able to use the full $5,000. Grant can be used to cover the costs of staff time, technology, refreshments for volunteers, space rental. (That is not an exhaustive list). Grant-funded activities could include: 

  • Door knocking efforts to remind community members to register and vote;
  • Community information events, like tabling at a festival or hosting a concert;
  • Promotional materials;
  • Hiring an artists to create materials that will appeal to your community;
  • Digital promotion (social media or other online platforms); or
  • Pledge campaign to increase voter turnout on Election Day.
This is not an exhaustive list. Please be creative and propose what will best reach your community! Please note - we can provide supplemental funds for interpretation or translation if that is core to reaching your audience(s).

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Category 2:

$10,000 - $25,000 to support the cost of voter engagement efforts leading up to 2022 mid-term elections.

Category 2 grants are intended for organizations who have a history of large-scale voter engagement or organizing their communities around other important issues (Census, issue-based advocacy, etc). Organizations who apply for this grant will need to illustrate past community organizing efforts. Organizations can apply for an amount between $10,000-$25,000. We anticipate granting 4-8 Category 2 awards depending on proposal amounts. Grant-funded activities could include:

  • Informational panel with guests from a democracy-field & community members; 
  • Door knocking efforts to remind community members to register and vote;
  • Community information events, like tabling at a festival or hosting a concert;
  • Promotional materials;
  • Hiring an artists to create materials that will appeal to your community;
  • Digital promotion (social media or other online platforms); or
  • Pledge campaign to increase voter turnout on Election Day.
This is not an exhaustive list. Please be creative and propose what will best reach your community! Please note - we can provide supplemental funds for interpretation or translation if that is core to reaching your audience(s).

Grant Timeline

 

Category 1 ($5,000 grants) timeline

 June 8   Voter Engagement Grant application opens 
 July 6  Applications due at 5pm CST
 July 7 - July 29                      Category 1 grant committee review period
 August 3  Grantees notified and announced on MCN's website
 August 17  Optional: Grantees can attend a virtual training on 501(c)(3) election do's & don'ts; session will be recorded.

Category 2 ($10,000 - $25,000 grants) timeline

 June 8  Voter Engagement Grant application opens
 July 6  Applications due at 5pm CST
 July 7 - July 22                          Category 2 grant committee review period
 July 27  Grantees notified and announced on MCN's website
 August 17  Optional: Grantees can attend a virtual training on 501(c)(3) election do's & don'ts; session will be recorded.



Voter Engagement Grant FAQs

Yes, MCN's grants are independent of other available funding.

Yes, organizations fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) can apply for MCN voter engagement grants.

Please submit your fiscal sponsor's 501(c)(3) IRS Tax-Exempt Letter, and your written, signed fiscal sponsorship agreement with the fiscal sponsor. If a fiscally sponsored organization is awarded a Nonprofit Voter Engagement Grant, the fiscal sponsor will be the grantee. For this reason, a fiscal sponsor is eligible to receive more than one Nonprofit Voter Engagement Grant.

Nonprofits with a 501(c)(3) status need to stay nonpartisan when representing their nonprofit on site, at events, or doing voter engagement activities. You cannot suggest which candidate to vote for or a political party to support.

Check out Nonprofit Vote's resources.

Great question. We will be able to provide supplemental funds if that is core to reaching your audience(s).

We plan to tell all grantees the status of their application on July 27 for Category 2 applicants and August 3 for Category 1 applicants.

Ileana Mejia, MCN's public policy advocate, will be happy to answer any questions. Please reach out to her via email.



Grant engagement activity examples


Not sure what your organization can do? Here are some activities you could try to engage the community:   

  • Phone and text banking. Here is a suggested script from Nonprofit Vote;
  • Conduct a voter registration drive at your nonprofit;
  • Encourage people to register to vote in your communications, on your website, and at events;
  • Provide information on how, where, and when to vote - the Secretary of State's website is a great place to review that information;
  • Table in front of your office or in the community, and provide a laptop or iPad for community members to fill out or updated their voter registration. Give out swag (t-shirts, sunglasses, buttons, posters, stickers, or pens) with messaging that resonates with your targeted community and encourages participation in the election;
  • Partner with another organization on an activity for an even broader reach;
  • Go door knocking by working with volunteers and pulling addresses from a nonpartisan canvassing app;
  • Host a virtual concert for your targeted community and promote the concert on social media and in your communications;
  • Create video PSAs about why voting is important and how to register to vote.

These are just a few examples - we encourage creativity in how your organization would use the grant money!