Every year, member-based and nonprofit organizations rigorously prepare for critical elections that decide the fate of various policies and races. At the center of these elections are hard-working members who vote to determine who will hold key positions and which policies will become reality.
If you’ve voted in political elections, you understand why voting is essential. Unfortunately, consistent low voter turnout, especially during “off-year” elections, inspire little motivation among even those who are proud of their civic engagement. Member elections for board members, executive officers, bylaw amendments, homeowners, and motion approvals are a different ballgame, but they’re crucial in ensuring corporations remain democratic and vibrant.
Elections in member-based organizations offer an opportunity to reconnect with members. So, leaders and members must push to increase voter participation and try to create online votes to ensure as many members as possible have a voice in their collective futures.
Member organizations hoping to increase voter turnout might feel compelled to dish out the often-used cliches about how it’s in their members’ best interests to vote. This line of thinking isn’t only easy to understand—it’s true.
Member-based corporations are diverse because they comprise many departments. They have one thing in common, however—members have a share in the organization's success. Often, members pay to join such organizations through union dues or membership fees, which means they expect to gain something from this. These benefits may come in the form of favorable union contracts, better representation and resources, or improved amenities where they live.
If that’s the only reason members vote, that’s a good enough reason; however, giving members a say in who represents them at the negotiating table or acts as the face of the company is crucial. It’s important to make voting as easy as possible so members don’t have to worry about small concerns like the time it takes to vote online. Members should be able to focus on the candidates and issues themselves.
Like in political elections, these private elections help members recognize that their voice matters and their interests will be addressed. In addition, if a member takes part in helping a colleague rise in the ranks or supports a particular policy, it’s a sign that they’re actively involved in what’s happening in their organization.
The primary concern among most member-based organizations is how to increase voter participation. That makes sense because these key contests underscore the many benefits of having engaged members.
One of the primary benefits is bringing members together and reconnecting with them annually. Corporations must use their resources during this time to show their gratitude to their members, communicate vital information, and people of their collective goals. These times can also be fitting places to release the “state of the company” memo, pointing out a vision for the future and success stories from the recent past.
Ensuring that members vote may require a lot of mobilization. Still, one way to increase voter turnout is to capitalize on the power of the internet and offer online elections–such as through any easy-to-use tool like ElectionBuddy–which are increasingly becoming one of the most effective ways to manage these elections.
Voting is a democratic act that reinforces the sense among members that their voices are crucial and being heard, no matter the size of their corporation. In addition, it inspires members to help shape the future of their organization, and for organizations, greater voter participation means more engaged members. Thus, voting, by all means, is a win-win for both the organization and its members.