Fair 2020 Election Funding Guide

As California prepares for its first all-mail voting election, philanthropy can provide resources in critical areas to ensure that all voters – particularly people of color, immigrants, new voters, and first-time voters – can participate in our democracy. A global pandemic, an economic crisis, and a deeply divided country make this fall’s election fraught with more challenges than ever before. Community organizations and advocates across the state are already mobilizing to protect this fundamental part of our democracy. Through 501(c)(3) funding, their work can be deepened, expanded, and amplified with robust support from partners in philanthropy. This guide is intended to be a starting point for funders interested in investing in and supporting civic participation in California.

Areas of Work


Get Out the Vote (GOTV)

GOTV aims at increasing voter turnout for elections. Historically, many GOTV efforts have focused on in-person connections through door-to-door canvasing, tabling, and gatherings. In light of the pandemic and the ongoing need for social distancing, GOTV efforts are shifting to digital platforms and groups are innovating new strategies to reach voters, particularly new and first-time voters. Given California’s move to all-mail voting for the 2020 elections, encouraging voter participation across the state is more critical than ever. This work includes:

  • Digital creative assets – Artwork, videos, and more to encourage voter turnout 
  • Phone banking – Calling voters to encourage participation
  • Social media campaigns – Using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to encourage voter turnout
  • Digital town halls – Online gatherings to share information, answer questions, and generate energy for the 2020 elections

Some of the organizations doing this work:

● Million Voters Project

● California Black Hub

● California Calls

● Power California

● PICO California

● Non-Profit Vote

● Regional civic engagement “table partnerships in San Diego, Orange County, Inland Valley, Fresno, San Francisco, Oakland and the Bay Area regionally

Access & Education

Even before all-mail voting, access to voting was not equal. From language barriers to voting rights violations, voters across the state – particularly voters of color, immigrant voters, and low-income voters – faced real and significant barriers to participating in our democracy. California’s all-mail voting system makes it difficult to educate voters, enforce voting rights laws, and ensure equal access to voting all the more critical. This work includes:

  • Election hotlines – Hotlines available to voters before and on the day of election where voters can ask questions and report voting rights violations
  • Poll monitoring – On-site monitoring of polling sites to prevent and address voting rights violations
  • Language translation
  • Voter education campaigns – Efforts to educate voter about their rights when they go to vote

Some of the organizations doing this work:

  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
  • National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law

Policy Advocacy

While all-mail voting promises to increase voter turnout for some groups, we know that many groups will continue to face barriers to voting – voters of color, low-income voters, and voters with housing insecurity to name a few. Advocates across California are pushing to ensure that the state and counties have policies and systems in place to promote equal access for all voters. This work includes advocating for:

  • More in-person polling sites
  • Robust health and safety protocols for voters and poll workers
  • Voter education and outreach campaigns by the state and local government

Some organizations doing this work:

  • Common Cause California
  • Advancement Project California
  • Future of California's Elections
  • Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF)
  • Disability Rights of California
  • The League of Women Voters of California

IMPORTANT NOTE: The organizations listed here are a sample of the many organizations engaged in efforts to promote a fair 2020 elections across the state. For more information about civic engagement work with particular populations or particular regions, please contact Philanthropy California:


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