The Democracy Lens

The Democracy Lens

Philanthropy Northwest’s Democracy Lens is a project that helps grantmakers recognize their capacities to create a more vibrant democracy in their states and communities. The Democracy Lens includes both data and case studies, known as Bright Spots, that can help funders find ways to support community-led solutions to address societal problems, as well as work collaboratively across the charitable and public sectors.

Democracy Lens Data

These data for each state in our region provide a window into the health of democracy in the Northwest. For each of the six states, the statistics include:

  • Summaries of the democracy funding in that state
  • The democracy funding by category with specific examples
  • Indicators of public participation in democracy
  • The racial demographics of candidates and officeholders

The statistics compare data from three-year periods at two different time points: 2012-2014 and 2015-2017. Combined with the Bright Spots, the data paint a clearer picture of where funders can address shortcomings in civic decision-making, such as by improving equity and inclusiveness across communities in the Northwest.

Democracy Lens Bright Spots

The Bright Spots examine successful democracy-improving initiatives in the Northwest. These case studies highlight philanthropy’s involvement in strengthening public discourse and governing processes. In combination with the data, funders can refine their strategies and identify how their own work can strengthen civil society to build a better democracy.

Data and Bright Spots by State

Read about the democracy funding landscape and stories in your state by clicking on your state icon below:

Northwest Democracy Grant Funding Summary

Democracy grantmaking makes up 1% or less of foundation funding in the Northwest. However, there is a clear potential for positive impact.


Portion of Democracy Funding to Grantees in Each State for Local Causes
*Many grants do not report the level of geography the funding is intended for. ​​​​​This data excludes grants with an ​​​​​​unspecified
geography and defines grants as “local” if at least a portion of the grant is classified as such.


Interested in learning more about democracy building?

Contact our policy team to explore how philanthropy can play a role in strengthening democracy.