Democracy Funding in Idaho

Democracy Funding in Idaho

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 Idaho 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 Idaho’s grantmakers have been involved in creating a stronger civic culture in these Bright Spot articles. 

Idaho Bright Spot: Solving Problems for the Common Good

Idaho Bright Spot: Supporting an Accurate Census Count

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 Idaho

Key points from the data include: 

  • Grantmaking overall increased in 2015-2017, making democracy funding – which has not increased – a smaller percentage of philanthropy overall.  
  • However, most of this funding continues to come from funders based in Idaho. This is unlike other parts of the Northwest and highlights local interest in supporting Idaho’s civic infrastructure. 
  2012-2014 2015-2017
Grants 38 33
Funders 22 21
Funding $3.7 million $3.5 million
Median Grant Amount $17,500 $20,000
Portion of Funding in Idaho* 1.9% 0.8%
Portion of Total Funders 2.9% 1.7%
Portion of Funding from In-State Funders 80% 84%
Funding per Resident $2.31 $2.10

*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. 

Idaho Democracy Funding by Category
Grants can be listed under more than one area and from 2015-2017, $150,000 also
fell under “Other.” One caveat: a large portion of the media funding is not centered
on journalism, but instead supported Idaho’s data and research infrastructure.
For category definitions, visit 
Democracy Maps by Candid.


Recent Examples

  • Civic Participation: The Idaho Community Foundation provided $15,000 in 2019 to Catholic Charities of Idaho for census outreach.
  • Government: In 2018, the Association of Idaho Cities received $5,000 for their annual conference from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health, Inc.






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 Idaho’s election performance last out of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in 2016. This score, slightly lower than its 2014 rank, is based on 17 election performance metrics, showing below average rates in Idaho on election participation and accessibility. This may be compounded with only a small fraction of Idaho’s democracy funding supporting electoral participation or civic engagement. However, Idaho’s turnout is similar to the nationwide turnout in recent elections. Participation is higher among those registered to vote, though registration has not increased in recent years.


Idaho Voter Participation graph
Sources: United States Election Project (voter eligible population and turnout), 
Idaho Secretary of State’s Office (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 Idaho. People of color are almost 20% of the population but 2% of total county, state and federal representatives in 2019. White males are the most elected demographic group, and all of Idaho’s four federal officials were white males in 2019.

Candidate demographics in the 2014 and 2018 elections are mostly like those of officeholders in 2015 and 2019, showing that people of color are not often running for office in Idaho but are similarly likely to win as others. One exception occurred in 2018, when 60% of candidates were white men compared to 66% of 2019 officeholders, whereas 38% of candidates were white women in contrast to 32% of officeholders the following year, though not all offices are up for election each cycle.

Idaho Officeholder Demographics
*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.