The Youth Vote & Technology’s Presence in Our Lives

Gore carried young voters by two points. Kerry carried them by about nine points. Obama carried them by 34 points. According to Peter D. Hart in Rolling Stone, the NBC News and The Wall Street Journal pollster, Obama’s campaign sent out text messages to hundreds of thousands of people under the age of 30, the millennials, in the days after Nov. 4th, continuing to rally them around this new era in politics and this country. Whatever side of the aisle you stand on, this campaign’s use of technology has ushered in new and exhilarating potential. And I think it’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.


The connectedness these youth proclaim not only with the campaign but with each other, and the civic agency they feel because of it, is empowering a generation of change-agents. Imagine the potential if nonprofits began communicating vital information to their clients in this fashion, or sent out alerts to their donors. The social service field could be transformed if those seeking a service could be more easily linked to those volunteers able to provide it, all the while going through the nonprofit, but streamlining the process and empowering the individuals. David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Kennedy School at Harvard, believes that the three keys to Obama’s use of technology as a success are: message, money and mobilization. The campaign used technology to get out a message, to raise money and to mobilize voters. If nonprofits could use some of these basic (and relatively cheap) technologies with the same three goals in mind… imagine the possibilities in mobilizing people around a cause or a solution to a problem or a community. Remember, tip of the iceberg. This field is ripe for innovation.


Great job Annie!


Thanks for your post. I'm at the ARNOVA conference and a number of nonprofit scholars here have mentioned the lessons we might assume from Obama's campaign and it's potential to inform nonprofits' roles in civil society. Good food for thought...

Annie, tip of the iceberg, I think you are right on. Thank-you for the thought provoking insights.

Annie, I couldn't agree more. I think young people crave information and access. Information engages us and access mobilizes us. There is a whole world of bright, motivated young people who don't know where or how to effect change... and technology can inform us, teach us, and connect us with resources. Another interesting thing to think about is how to deploy the message (using technology) and not have it get lost in the noise of 400 daily emails, 100 daily text messages...

Congrats on the first post!

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