Vetting and Evaluation


After a strategic process of geographic targeting and screening for organizations aligned with our theory of change, our State Advisors talent-scout groups; assess their organizational health and quality of electoral and organizing work; and conduct deep, multi-point reference checking to inform grantmaking. We then evaluate our local partners’ impact through ongoing on-the-ground monitoring, annual reviews, and empirical testing.

Read on for much more in-depth information.

Step 1: Targeting

Geographic Targeting

In each election cycle, we identify the geographies most in critical need of investment.

  • In each geography, we weigh key races, including the Presidency, US Senate seats, US House seats, state executive races, state chamber flip opportunities, key local races (e.g. city councils, school boards), and ballot measures.
  • We draw on in-depth political analysis and aggregated polling coupled with the insights from our national and state advising teams. 
  • Where possible, we look for investment opportunities with multiple and layered key electoral races.
  • Based on our analysis of electoral priorities and organizational capacity, we cluster states in prioritized groupings and develop individual state-by-state investment targets.
  • We work to thoughtfully balance the critical need to make hard choices on how to deploy limited financial resources for the greatest impact, while not writing off any community, and we develop investment strategies that work towards achieving critical wins this cycle and building power long-term for future opportunities.

Organizational Focus

Our work is grounded in supporting organizations that do year-round local organizing and voter mobilization work during election cycles, with a strong emphasis on youth, immigrant, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities.

We focus on local organizations rooted in their community, led by people who reflect that community and those most impacted by the injustices we seek to transform. These include:

  • Established organizations, issue-specific and constituency-specific networks;
  • Growing organizations leaning into electoral work for the first time; and
  • Emerging groups that have recently formed or may be on the cusp of launching.

We have built an extensive map of more than 500 movement groups involved in voter engagement and turnout and we are constantly scouting for additional groups alongside our state advisors and movement partners.

Issue Focus

Instead of imposing policy positions and priorities from the top down, we support our partners to pursue their own agenda from the bottom up. By focusing on the local issues people care about most, our partners give them a reason to vote — and to stay involved 365 days a year.

As a result of this bottom-up approach, MVP partners work on a wide array of intersecting focus areas, including voting rights, climate, racial justice, economic justice, education, LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive justice, healthcare, immigrant rights, and more.

Step 2: Vetting

Our vetting process is led by our team of skilled State Advisors, who bring years of experience in local, in-state movement building and political campaign work.

State Advisors proactively talent-scout local groups; assess the quality and scope of their electoral and year-round organizing work as well as their organizational health; and conduct deep, multi-point reference checks using insights from key movement leaders, national and in-state organizers, peer funders, and other allied organizations.

As each State Advisor develops a comprehensive list of possible groups to support in the states they oversee, they build profiles of each group and work to answer several key questions:

  • Quality of vote work: Are they doing well-targeted vote work? How is their voter engagement strategy planned and implemented? Are their goals achievable? How do they track their progress? Are they developing new strategies or experimenting with new approaches to voter persuasion or mobilization?
  • Synergy between electoral work and year-round organizing: How do they connect their vote work to year-round organizing and power building efforts? How do their mobilization efforts feed into building ongoing community engagement? Have they shown success with translating electoral victories into policy, regulatory, or other reforms directly benefiting their communities, or do they have plans to do so?
  • Constituency and issue priorities: Who does the group organize, represent, and engage? What issues are they working on? Are they working in underfunded communities or with people of color? Are they youth-led? Does their leadership reflect the communities they work in?
  • Place in the movement ecosystem: What role do they play within the local, state, and national movement ecosystem? We generally categorize each potential group in one of three roles: leader, established, or emerging. We feel it is critical to invest in all types of groups and so aim to understand if they are a leader or anchor of the work, an established key player in one or more movement networks, the only one engaged in a particular community or issue, a new and emerging group, or serving in another role. How might supporting their work impact other groups?
  • Financial need and growth potential: What is their budget for their planned vote work and how much remains to be raised? What capacity do they have to scale with additional funding? Is there evidence that they will be good stewards of the funding they receive?

Step 3: Grantmaking

MVP’s State Advising Team establishes priorities for each state and each recommended group based upon our overall national goals and the state of play nationally and state-by-state, as well as the mobilization capacity, potential impact, and financial need of each group in the context of local, statewide, and national movement ecosystems.

MVP works closely with other funder partners to get a full picture of how investments are being made and make sure we are doing the best job to fill critical gaps that may not be prioritized by other partners.

We are continuously evaluating how much each state ecosystem needs, how much has MVP and other funders have already given to a state, and where there are crucial investment gaps.

Step 4: Evaluation

To inform future grantmaking strategy, our State Advisors evaluate our local partners’ work and impact through ongoing on-the-ground assessment, annual reviews, and empirical testing.

On-the-Ground Assessment

Throughout the year, State Advisors routinely monitor and interact with groups in order to more deeply understand their strengths and growth areas, and to proactively support them in a process of continuous improvement.

Annual Reviews

Each year, State Advisors review plans, budgets, and reports on the progress of all groups that we have supported. We also review plans and budgets for new and emerging groups on an ongoing basis. 

Our Annual Reporting Form covers quantitative measures of impact related to voter registration and get-out-the-vote contacts, as well as more detailed, qualitative information on organizational development and issue-organizing campaigns.

View our sample End-of-Year Reporting Form »

Empirical Testing

Though it would not be practical to conduct testing everywhere all of the time, we “spot check” our partners’ impact through randomized control trials and other methods.

For example, a randomized control trial we ran in North Carolina in partnership with the Analyst Institute concluded that our local partners produced a 3% increase in registered voters within the targeted community — and, most importantly, a 3% increase in votes in the presidential election.

This Is How We Win

There is a lot of research on best practices around voter mobilization and how to optimize door-to-door canvassing, person-to-person texting, phone-banking, relational organizing, and social media. It shows a range of costs and impacts. The science is not perfect, but understanding the ranges and current best practices is critical.

Our aim is to find groups that we believe have the potential to create, refine, and implement best practices in voter contact and base building. In some cases, the groups are mature and have documented results.

In other cases, with new or less mature groups, we make considered investments based on potential and we monitor closely. We also support them and drive that quality up even further with our Movement Match capacity building program, which matches groups to proven movement resources, such as trainers and coaches, and provides grants for groups to gain access to the tools they need to level up.

Like great venture capitalists, sometimes we bet on the business plan and sometimes we bet on the team. But in all cases, our investments are based on a deep knowledge of organizing best practices and local conditions on the ground.

By combining our most up-to-date knowledge of mobilization best practices with the professional judgment of state advisors with deep field experience and knowledge of their specific state ecosystems, we are helping build a resilient, nationwide progressive movement.

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