NAMI Election Advocacy in 2020
As we move into election season, there are some basics to remember regarding how to legally engage in the political process as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
First, as a tax-exempt non-profit, we are legally obligated to NOT engage in activities supporting a particular political party or candidate, or to endorse any particular political party or candidate.
Rather, we act to support policies and initiatives that advance our mission and which support both people with mental illness and their families.
we may not put out materials such as candidate “report cards”, bash candidates, or tell our members who to vote for or not.
Our role is to educate our members on how to vote, who is on their ballot, where to vote, the reasons why voting matters, support the decrease of barriers to access voting, and the issues that are important to NAMI members.
Of course we are not perfect, however the “NAMI police” will not come knocking on our door if we slip up. On the other hand it is important to be mindful of these things when we are communicating with the public on behalf of NAMI, in order to not endanger NAMI’s image as a non-partisan advocate for mental health issues, or NAMI’s standing as a tax-exempt non-profit organization.
Across the country, mental health is on the ballot in 2020. Every elected official – from the president and Congress to county commissioners and local school board members – influences policy issues that affect people with mental health conditions and their families.
To make sure mental health is a priority, NAMI is excited to announce the re-launch of #Vote4MentalHealth for the 2020 elections. Together, we can make mental health a key issue this election season.
As the country’s largest grassroots mental health organization, it is our responsibility to make sure voters realize the impact of their vote. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NAMI does not endorse candidates or political parties but instead works to help people learn ways they can understand candidates’ positions on the issues they care about.
Similar to 2018, we will ask people to pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth. When they sign the pledge, advocates will receive updates about #Vote4MentalHealth and how to ensure that mental health gets their vote. They will also receive helpful election information, like voter registration deadlines and how to find their polling place.
As leaders in NAMI, you know the impact of elections on the mental health services and supports in your community first-hand. We hope you will join us in spreading the word to encourage others to #Vote4MentalHealth. Between now and Election Day, we will be sharing many resources and templates to help you get-out-the-vote, engage candidates as a 501(c)(3), and educate voters about why and how to #Vote4MentalHealth.
To help get people excited about why voting for mental health matters, we have created a video about the impact of each vote on mental health in our communities. We also created a shortened version that includes considerations during COVID-19 and connects to the NAMI “You Are Not Alone” campaign. We encourage you to share both versions on social media and in your newsletters (templates to share this information can be found below).
Here are just a few of the things you can expect to receive in the coming months:
• Template emails, social media content and graphics to remind people of the voter registration deadlines in your area, election day information, vote-by-mail options and more
• A toolkit on 501(c)(3) election rules and opportunities, along with a training webinar from a legal expert where you can ask all of your questions
• Tools to promote and partner with National Voter Registration Day, an organization that helps nonprofits get people registered to vote
We know you have a lot on your plates, so we will also be recognizing NAMI organizations that promote #Vote4MentalHealth (more details to come). If you have ideas of additional resources, templates or information you need to promote #Vote4MentalHealth, let us know!
Take Action Today to #Vote4MentalHealth. Here are things you can start doing today to promote #Vote4MentalHealth:
1. Understand what your NAMI can do this election year as a 501(c)(3). Read the attached tips and FAQs to familiarize yourself with the many ways your NAMI can get involved in the elections and what activities to avoid. We encourage you to share this with your staff and Board, as well.
2. Take the pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth at vote4mentalhealth.org.
Sign up to receive alerts, reminders and other information. Share this link with your Board, staff and volunteers and ask them to take the pledge.
3. Send an email to your members. The template below uses the full version of the #Vote4MentalHealth video. To use the COVID-19/You Are Not Alone version, please swap it out with this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rau687zwWSA&feature=youtu.be.
Subject line: Vote for Mental Health in 2020
This election year, one issue is on the ballot for every race in our state: mental health.
When you vote for your members of Congress, governor, state representatives, county commissioners, district attorneys or city councilmembers, you are voting on mental health.
Mental health is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. Mental health is an American issue.
Every issue facing voters this year – from the economy to jobs and from health care to criminal justice, housing and more – is connected to mental health. Click here to watch a video about why your #Vote4MentalHealth matters in 2020.
Your choices at the ballot box are yours and yours alone, but the candidates we elect touch everyone impacted by a mental health condition. Take the pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth to learn more about the link between the policies and laws passed by the candidates you elect and the availability of mental health services in our community. You’ll also receive information on how to exercise your right to vote.
Will you #Vote4MentalHealth? Join us and take the pledge today.
4. Share the pledge on social media (social media images attached). Mental health is not political issue. Mental health is an American issue. Pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth in this year’s elections: http://vote4mentalhealth.org/
Your choices at the ballot box touch everyone impacted by mental health conditions. Will you pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth? Learn more at: https://youtu.be/ZYfcT59E6WY
Every issue facing voters this year – from the economy to jobs and from health care to criminal justice, housing and more – is connected to mental health. Take the pledge to #Vote4MentalHealth to learn more! http://vote4mentalhealth.org/
One issue is on every ballot across the country: mental health. Can we count on you to #Vote4MentalHealth? Sign the pledge today! http://vote4mentalhealth.org/