Democracy Funding in Oregon

Democracy Funding in Oregon

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

Oregon Bright Spot: Citizen Engagement and Voter Education Oregon Bright Spot: Partnership for 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 Oregon

Key points from the data include:

  • From 2015-2017, more funding came from funders within the state than in 2012-2014.
  • Democracy grantmaking in Oregon did not keep pace with a large increase in overall grantmaking in the state, which is why democracy funding went from over 1% of all grantmaking to under 1%.


  2012-2014 2015-2017
Grants 392 534
Funders 81 110
Funding $14.4 million $17.4 million
Median Grant Amount $12,000 $9,504
Portion of Funding in Oregon* 1.2% 0.7%
Portion of Total Funders 4% 3.1%
Portion of Funding from In-State Funders 27% 43%
Funding per Resident $3.67 $4.24

*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.

Oregon Democracy Funding by Category
Grants can be listed under more than one area. From 2012-2017, around $290,000 also fell
under “Other.” For category definitions, visit Democracy Maps by Candid.


Recent Examples

  • Civic Participation: In 2020, Meyer Memorial Trust in Portland gave $50,000 to the Basic Rights Education Fund for LGBT equality through policy advocacy and leadership development.
  • Government: In 2018, the Ford Family Foundation in Roseburg helped fund an energy efficiency coordinator position for the City of Talent with $10,000.



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 Oregon’s election performance 32nd out of the 50 states plus D.C. in 2016. This score, which is lower than its 2014 rank, is based on 17 election performance metrics, showing average rates in Oregon on election participation and accessibility. Registration continues to climb and turnout is above the national average. The state has a higher turnout than the country, especially in recent midterms. For an example of how funders can engage on this issue, see the Bright Spot on citizen engagement.


Oregon Voter Participation Graph
Sources: United States Election Project (voter eligible population and turnout), 
Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division (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 Oregon. People of color were about 25% of the population but 5% of total county, state and federal representatives in 2019. White males are the most elected demographic group, and six of its seven federal legislators were white males in 2019. Candidate demographics in the 2014 and 2018 elections are like those of officeholders in 2015 and 2019, which means that people of color are not often running for office in Oregon but are similarly likely to win as others.

Oregon 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.