The funding data below highlight totals in Washington 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 demographic range from 2012 to 2019.
Read how Washington’s grantmakers have been involved in creating a stronger civic infrastructure in these Bright Spot articles.
|Washington Bright Spot: Democracy Vouchers in Seattle||Washington Bright Spot: Sharing Power for Shared Prosperity|
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 Washington
Key points from the data include:
- The number and typical size of such grants increased from 2012-2014 to 2015-2017, totaling over $9 million per year.
- However, this was less than 1% of total grantmaking in the state. Still, around 4% of foundations that give in Washington support democracy work, which is higher than in much of the Northwest.
|Funding||$20.8 million||$28.1 million|
|Median Grant Amount||$20,000||$25,000|
|Portion of Funding in Washington*||0.9%||0.6%|
|Portion of Total Funders||4.2%||3.7%|
|Portion of Funding from In-State Funders||35%||43%|
|Funding per Resident||$2.99||$3.85|
*Excludes federal grants and relies on two datasets (Foundation Maps and Democracy Maps) updated at different frequencies.
- Campaigns, Elections and Voting: In 2019, the Seattle Foundation gave $17,500 to Disability Rights Washington for a voter education initiative.
- Civic Participation: The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust in Vancouver, Washington provided $225,000 in 2019 to the Washington Policy Center in Seattle. This served a program to increase young professionals’ civic engagement.
Public Participation in DemocracyDemocracy grants provide members of the
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Elections Performance Index ranked Washington’s election performance 20th out of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in 2016. This score, unchanged from its 2014 rank, is based on 17 election performance metrics, showing average rates in Washington on election participation and accessibility. Turnout in Washington is above the national average by around 5% or more each election, but registration has been flat around 80%. The upcoming Bright Spot for Washington will discuss a local philanthropic effort to quantify civic participation and other community indicators of progress.
Demographics of Candidates
Political candidacy is also a way to ensure democracy is reflective of the public good, but not all demographic groups are equally likely to run for office in Washington. People of color were around 30% of the population but 7% of total county, state and federal representatives in 2019, a small increase from 2015. White males are the most elected demographic group, and in 2019, seven out of Washington’s 12 federal legislators were white males and four were white females. 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 Washington but are similarly likely to win as others.