Democracy Funding In Alaska

Democracy Funding In Alaska

As a part of our Democracy Lens tools, for each state in our region, we report a data snapshot about democratic activities (ranging from funding, voter participation and candidate demographics) and case studies (called Bright Spots). The Bright Spots illustrate the scope and story of philanthropic support for civic engagement. You can access these data and Bright Spot stories for the other Northwest states on the Democracy Lens webpage.


The funding data below highlight totals in Alaska from grants of at least $5,000 for democratic activities. This funding summary compares data from three-year periods at two different time points: 2012-2014 and 2015-2017. The data include funding coming from outside of and within the state. Additional data and charts on voter participation and candidate demographics range from 2012 to 2019.

Read how Alaska’s grantmakers have been involved in creating a stronger civic infrastructure in these Bright Spot articles.

Alaska Bright Spot: Voter Registration Alaska Bright Spot: Navigating Alaska’s Budget Crisis to Preserve Essential Programs

If you are a funder interested in highlighting your democracy work, please email our policy team to share your story.


Democracy Funding to Grantees in Alaska

Key points from the data include:

  • Compared to 2012-2014, total funding increased in 2015-2017 but continued to account for less than 1% of philanthropic funding in Alaska, less than for most other parts of the Northwest.
  • Additionally, unlike 2012-2014, from 2015-2017 most funding came from out-of-state.
  2012-2014 2015-2017
Grants 29 28
Funders 12 14
Funding $1.2 million $2.1 million
Median Grant Amount $23,000 $27,036
Portion of Funding in Alaska* 0.7% 0.5%
Portion of Total Funders 3.9% 2.4%
Portion of Funding from In-State Funders 78% 29%
Funding per Resident $1.65 $2.89

*Excludes federal grants and relies on two datasets (Foundation Maps and Democracy Maps) updated at different frequencies.
Sources: Democracy Maps by CandidFoundation Maps by Candid (for Percent of Total Grantmaking to State), American Community Survey (for Funding per Resident). Foundation data is less complete after 2017.

Alaska Democracy Funding by Category Graph
Grants can be listed under more than one area. For category definitions,
visit Democracy Maps by Candid.


Recent Examples

  • Campaigns, Elections, and Voting: In 2017, the Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage gave the Alaska Community Foundation $50,000 to help automatic voter registration implementation efforts.
  • Government: The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) provided $42,000 in 2019 to the Alaska Institute of Justice for environmental monitoring of Alaska Native communities, and creating a community-led relocation guide should communities need to relocate due to environmental degradation.


Public Participation in Democracy

Democracy grants provide members of the public with services to increase their abilities to participate in civic life, including elections and public service. Voting provides one snapshot of the public’s involvement in civil society. 


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Elections Performance Index ranked Alaska’s election performance 17th out of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in 2016. This score, an improvement over its 2014 rank, is based on 17 election performance indicators like participation and accessibility. This above-average score aligns with Alaska’s voter turnout, which rates average with the country in recent presidential elections and better than average in midterms. Since most people are registered, registration is higher than 100% when those who have moved or died are not taken off the registration list.


Alaska Voter Participation Graph
Sources: United States Election Project (voter eligible population and turnout), 
Alaska Division of Elections (registration) and Statista (national voter registration).

Demographics of Candidates

Political candidacy is also a way to ensure that democracy is reflective of the public good, but not all demographic groups are equally likely to run for office in Alaska. People of color are almost 40% of the population but less than 20% of total borough, state and federal representatives in 2019. White males are the most elected demographic group, and women of color are the least likely, though these trends lessened slightly from 2015 to 2019. Of Alaska’s three federal officials in 2019, three were white and two were male.

Candidate demographics in the 2014 and 2018 elections mostly align with those of officeholders in 2015 and 2019, which means that people of color are not often running for office in Alaska but are similarly likely to win as others. A small exception occurred in 2018, when 15% of candidates were men of color compared to 12% of 2019 officeholders, whereas 49% of candidates were white men in contrast to 55% of officeholders the following year, though not all offices are up for election each cycle. Many people of color currently serving in public office are Alaska Native.

Alaska Officeholder Demographics Graph
Population demographics are approximate and shifted slightly from 2015 to 2019. POC means people of color.
Source: Reflective Democracy Campaign (2014-15 and 2018-19 Demographics of Power datasets– excluding city officials).

Interested in learning more about democracy funding?

Take a look at our Democracy Lens webpage for more information.