2020 Election Guide

With much at stake in this upcoming election, Philanthropy has an opportunity to make a difference for our democracy. The final results of the November 2020 election, Census 2020, and redistricting will influence where our energies are needed in the years ahead. This is not just a presidential election, but also a key opportunity for several statewide ballot initiatives on racial equity and social justice. This November, it is especially important we remedy our democracy and ensure everyone, especially BIPOC communities, can safely cast their votes. It is also critical everyone is counted in the Census to ensure California's proportionate federal representation and fair share of resources. As witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent wildfires, these resources are put to use saving lives in our region and throughout California.

But, the work does not stop there. California's redistricting process is reshaping voting blocks, determining how communities are represented within and outside our state borders. With the power of the redistricting process, comes the responsibility of ensuring the commission and voting blocks reflect the diversity of California. Philanthropy has an opportunity to take a long view even as we adjust to the immediate needs we face. Southern California Grantmakers invites you to join us in pursuing a better, more just California.

Philanthropy can make a difference to:

  • Protect democracy by preserving essential public services;
  • Support efforts to guarantee a full and accurate Census count;
  • Ensure every eligible Californian votes;
  • Diversify representation among redistricting delegates; and,
  • Fund to win: plan for the long haul, and invest in partners who are breaking new ground for a stronger and more equitable California.



Individual Resources

1. Register to vote.

The very first step is to register to vote before Monday, October 19. If you are not sure if you are registered, or if your mailing address has changed, check your voter registration status. If you’ve missed the registration deadline, you can participate in same-day voting.

2. Do your research. We are not only electing seats for Congress and our President. This November, Californians will have their voices heard on 12 statewide ballot propositions ranging from rent stabilization to reinstating affirmative action and amending commercial property taxes. Find your personalized ballot information here.

3. Vote. California voters will have multiple ways to engage in the general election. First, all voters will have the option to vote by mail. In-person voting locations will still be made available, including early voting.

Vote by Mail.

  • In order to receive a mail-in-ballot, you must be registered to vote by Monday, October 19. All registered voters will receive a ballot mailed to their address.
  • Be sure that your selections are marked clearly and consistently. The envelope must be sealed and signed with the signature on your voter registration card, which is typically the signature on file with the DMV.
  • Drop it off at your nearest polling drop box, a secured box where vote-by-mail ballots can be dropped off. Or return your ballot by mail, postmarked before Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
  • Track your Ballot. The Secretary of State launched “Where’s My Ballot”, a new tracking tool to help voters track and stay up to date on the status of their ballot. 
  • Vote early.

Vote in Person.

  • In-person voting locations will still be made available. Find your nearest polling place.
  • You can also vote in person before Election day starting from Saturday, October 31, 2020 to Monday, November 2, 2020 with alternate hours of operation. Find your nearest early polling place.

5. Support a safe and fair election. During an election where misinformation and false claims have inundated voters, it is important to remember your voting rights. Find resources to understand and know voting rights here.


Foundation Resources


What can funders do?

Philanthropy is a resourceful and influential sector to engage in public policy and advocacy. Foundations, both public and private, are able to engage in nonpartisan, election engagement while staying within the IRS guidelines. To learn more, read Alliance for Justice - Bolder Advocacy’s Primer on Advocacy for Funders.


Learn how your foundation can fund and empower voter engagement efforts:

Grantee Resources


Advocacy during an election.

Nonprofits engaging in get-out-the-vote registration drives, election education, and other ways of nonpartisan advocacy are critical increasing voter turnout amongst low-propensity voters including youth, communities of color, and low-income voters.

As trusted messengers in their communities, nonprofits have proven successful in fostering higher levels of voter engagement and civic responsibility.  Ensure your grantees’ election advocacy efforts stay nonpartisan with this election checklist

Ballot measures are a critical component of the upcoming election. Learn how your grantees can engage with advocacy on ballot measures legally and effectively.


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