What you say as nonprofits in an election season could be interpreted in different ways – so communicate carefully during these times.

We’re in an election season, and while politicians, citizens, and almost everybody is focused on the election and candidates, nonprofits still have a lot to accomplish and should never be distracted. Aside from the distraction, there are a lot of questions that nonprofits also have in this season: can I say this? Can I share this on social media? These questions are not based on the fact that nonprofits are afraid of carrying out their duties during this time, but about how the public will take these messages.

Depending on the content, some messages may be misinterpreted as being supportive of a particular candidate, and this may hurt your nonprofit in the long run. Nevertheless, there are a lot of things nonprofits can do and precautions to take to make sure that their usual work of advocacy, community, and humanitarian support are continued in this election period without any misunderstandings.

Nonprofits in an election season – activities, communications, and advocacy.

Note, however, that as a nonprofit, you’re free to continue your advocacy, communication, and any other activities you have. You are also free to talk about issues bothering the communities and people you serve even if certain political parties and candidates are talking about the same issues. However, you need to take precautions to make sure that the larger community and the people you serve don’t misinterpret your activities as in support of a particular candidate. We’re here to go through these precautions and a few don’ts.

 The risks of liking and sharing on social media

While liking and sharing other organizations or people’s content on social media could be a fun activity for many, it could mean an endorsement or disapproval for nonprofits in an election season. What your nonprofit likes or shares on social media could mean an endorsement towards a particular political group or candidate and vice versa. To be on a safer side, nonprofits should desist from engaging with political content such as campaign messages and content from candidates or engage with them with diplomacy and a high level of neutrality. Showing support for a candidate or political group can hurt your nonprofit’s cause and what you like or share on social media could be putting you in trouble.

Guide your public communication

Your public communication – press releases, blog posts, and social media content by nonprofits in an election season should always go through rigorous scrutiny internally before being released. What you say may be a cause for great issues in the future as a nonprofit and you should always treat it with a high level of maturity and professionalism. Make sure your public communication stays true to your nonprofit’s values. And they should not be an endorsement for a particular political group or individual.

Get involved – but cautiously

Saying you should guard your messages or shouldn’t endorse any candidate doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get involved in activities during the election period. At the end of the day, nonprofits are affected by political decisions made by individual voters, and you would always want the best for the community or group you represent as a nonprofit. During this season, nonprofits can pursue their activities normally and still get involved with election activities such as educating citizens and their communities about responsible voting, educating groups on making decisions based on the policies of candidates and championing advocacy that encourages citizens to go out and cast their votes.

Don’ts for nonprofits in an election season

  • Don’t endorse political messages, candidates or activities, especially on social media or through press releases.
  • Desist from making contributions to political campaigns, parties or candidates.
  • Never allow political parties or candidates to use any resources of your nonprofit for campaign purposes