A new article from Inside Philanthropy outlines some of the ways in which 501c3, or non-partisan money, can be used for political purposes.
"Let's take the area of voter education, registration, and turnout as an example. It's no secret that who turns out to vote, and where, can make a big difference in determining which candidates win on Election Day. If more African Americans turn out in swing states like Florida or North Carolina, for instance, that's good news for Democrats. If the electorate tilts toward older and white voters, Republicans stand to gain."
In 2012 and 2014, I helped fund some of the groups mentioned through my work with the Youth Engagement Fund. These groups do amazing, non-partisan, little "d" democracy work year-in and year-out. Sadly, many constituencies DO register and vote at lower rates; sometimes it is the result of systemic disenfranchisement or purposeful efforts to undermine their power and sometimes it is a result of societal norms, like young people being less aware of the voting process, low-income workers with transportation issues, and the like. These facts have become part of our political football in unfortunate ways, demonizing well-intentioned efforts to increase all citizens access to the ballot as partisan politics.
I believe if more funders gave in this space, and gave not only in presidential election years, we could both de-politicize ths work and truly help solve this ongoing problem.