What is the Jonathan Project?
The Jonathan Project is a nonprofit, IRS C-3 Tax Deductible organization that works to encourage and assist all evangelical Christians to register to vote. It does not promote any political party or candidate.
Why was the Jonathan Project formed?
More than 40 percent of Evangelical Christian voters in the United States are not registered to vote. In the 2016 and 2018 elections, 42 percent of evangelicals nationwide did not vote, according to Pew Research. Imagine the difference if they were registered and voted!
In early 2016, a group of businessmen dismayed with the success rate of past efforts to motivate evangelicals to vote decided a new approach was needed. The Jonathan Project was created in 2016 and, with knowledge learned from previous campaign cycles, pivoted to employ the latest technology innovations to identify evangelical voters and encourage them to vote.
In 2020, more than 19,000 evangelicals were registered over a six-week period in two Congressional Districts in North Carolina. More than 31,000 new evangelicals were registered in three weeks in Georgia's 2021 special U.S. Senate election.
What's different about the Jonathan Project?
When it comes to registering Christian voters, the Jonathan Project uses the latest advances in digital technology to identify those audiences, analyze months of historical behavioral data, and reach them with messages that resonate with their values in a variety of mediums. This type of relevance targeting is used by many Fortune 500 companies.
Prospective unregistered voters are targeted with both direct mail and digital messaging that encourages registration. Once registered, messaging changes to motivational words from Christian leaders, such as Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson, who speak to the Christian duty to vote. Jonathan Project is the only evangelical voter registration organization endorsed by both of these leading Christian voices.
In addition, pastors and churches are selected to receive registration and voter encouragement messages as well, which increases the effectiveness of the overall efforts.
How does the voter registration target process work?
Instead of using phone banks and grassroots legwork, the Jonathan Project leverages state-of-the-art digital analysis and targeting of audiences based on beliefs, issues and values that are important to them. Mobile device information can also be captured at events or locations where evangelicals gather through the process of digital geofencing.
This process allows mobile devices to be tracked to better understand issues of importance, without ever revealing specific identities. The group overall provides learning through which specific messages are developed that appeal to the various interests and beliefs of evangelical voters. Data can also be valuable in comparing against public voter registration records to further target the messages delivered.
How long does the process take to accomplish?
The experts at Jonathan Project have found that the longer someone's behavioral patterns are tracked, the more tailored the messaging can be. Budgets are built based on having adequate time to capture and analyze data.
In the most recent election cycles, the Project found it didn't have adequate funds, nor adequate time to achieve the best results. With the right funding these goals can be achieved in a reasonable timeframe that will be magnified by the learnings built upon those previous successes.
How can you be sure Jonathan Project generates results?
None of the newly registered evangelicals were registered to vote before being contacted by Jonathan Project. Voter registration occurred, either via direct mail pieces or by going online and following instructions provided by Jonathan Project.
The voter registration mailer uses a barcode scanned by the United States Postal Service, with each barcode being unique to a target address. When scanned, information is transmitted directly to Jonathan Project where it is validated.
Why does evangelical voter registration require strong funding?
The technology used to capture data is built by top developers. Building profiles of prospective voters requires human intelligence to connect the dots and truly understand and predict behaviors and outcomes.
The Obama campaign turned the political world on its ear in 2008 through its amazing use of data analytics and outreach via digital media. Television ads and other traditional ways of communicating still matter, based on a voter's age. Jonathan Project uses traditional means when those are more effective and digital technology when it is the more trusted medium. The goal is to talk directly to prospective voters.
The Jonathan Project approach to targeting, analyzing, and deploying the right messages on the right platforms at the right time to the right audience is very cost effective. It targets those who are interested and can be influenced by voter registration messaging. It makes no sense to target those who are inflexible.
What if a church would like to be involved?
A pastor or church may freely express convictions and beliefs but cannot promote a specific candidate. The Jonathan Project encourages people of faith, regardless of party affiliation, to register and vote in elections.
Resources tab on this website's main menu to find numerous ways churches may get involved. Download free tools, such as study and discussion guides to support your efforts.
Churches wishing to use Jonathan Project materials are asked to select a designated team member to lead the process and act as a liaison with the nonprofit's staff to maximize efforts and connect with other like-minded churches and individuals.