What would it take for non-profit organizations in Minnesota to engage their supporters and achieve more victories?

Infrastructure:  In the same way we need infrastructure to build a vibrant city; we need infrastructure to build a great movement.  That movement will engage more Minnesotans’ voices in the public discourse.  Think of it as the base of a pyramid.  Without a solid foundation, we couldn’t add other layers on top.  Those layers are our victories – increased turnout of underrepresented voters, an issue environment that reflects our values, policy wins that benefit working families.  To win those fights, we need strong, well-supported infrastructure.  Minnesota Voice coordinates this infrastructure that includes more than 20 organizations fighting for economic justice, racial equity, a clean environment, voting rights and access to education.

Building Infrastructure:  Minnesota Voice Foundation is a new model for coordination among nonpartisan 501(c)3 organizations statewide, networking dozens of organizations that comprise “The Table”.  This membership-based group of organizations strengthens and amplifies the collective voice of its members.  One tool that is used to ensure that the voice of historically underrepresented communities is heard is through voter engagement of youth, low-income, and communities of color.  In addition, the overall engagement of our citizens increases as organizations use community engagement and grassroots organizing to educate, advocate and mobilize.  This year-round work among a broad coalition of organizations creates a more engaged citizenry, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

 Why is it called a “Table”?  The table provides members with a place to convene, where organizations can pull up a chair and brainstorm to create smart, collaborative plans.  It also builds power in numbers:  setting collective goals, making joint plans and holding each other accountable.  Minnesota Voice provides partners with cutting-edge technology, strategic planning, evaluation resources and capacity-building support.  Minnesota Voice and the 21 other State Voices tables around the country are innovative modes for collective impact.

Tools for the Table: 

Coordination eliminates duplications, thus maximizing efficiency and efficacy.

Voter file access using the Catalist database and Voter Engagement Network (VAN) interface.  This national database contains records for each voting age resident in the state and a web-based tool that allows groups to design sophisticated voter contact programs and issue advocacy campaigns.

Data and targeting experts who are the critical link in putting VAN into action.  Our staff works directly with partnering organizations to ensure they are integrating these tools into the best way possible.

Messaging and communications support to develop strategies with maximum reach.  Since it’s impossible to knock on every door and talk with every Minnesotan, media is a necessary echo chamber for partner work.