By using their voices in 2020, Americans made history. The November 2020 elections saw nearly 160 million US citizens cast ballots, marking a 66.7 percent voter turnout rate—the highest since 1908.

This voting engagement and education effort was no easy task: There were serious concerns about misinformation tactics, voter suppression, and other barriers to the ballot box, especially in Black and Native communities. Nonprofits stepped up and used their community trust to fill the gap by having attorneys and trained staff members answer voting rights questions from the public and issue information.

While we should celebrate this historic voter turnout and the role nonprofits played in a more participatory election process, we cannot let it lull us into complacency. Now is the time to strengthen that democracy by directing more private action to support the public good.

I often refer to my organization’s June 2020 report, “Trust in Civil Society.” It helps guide my thinking and reflections to take collaborative steps for the future. We know the public has broad trust in nonprofits, for example, but we need to do better in earning that trust in communities of color. We can do this by:

• Encouraging people to find their passion in their communities: Are residents concerned about local education, clean water, health care, the elderly, or the performing arts?

• Encouraging them to connect with a nonprofit that focuses on that passion, even if it’s virtual for now.

• Encouraging them to become involved, help, volunteer, and build trust with nonprofit staff members and the public.

• Encouraging people to expand how they live out their passion—to donate if they can, vote as a powerful expression of their passion to serve their community, and understand that voting is the bedrock of American democracy.

Read the full article about strengthening the daily practice of democracy by Dan Cardinali at Stanford Social Innovation Review.