Democracy Northwest

A group of leaders have come together to create Democracy Northwest, a project to explore what philanthropy can do to strengthen democracy.

At a time when our democracy is suffering from multiple afflictions, we believe philanthropy has a unique opportunity to its revitalization and an obligation to step up its game in a broad range of democracy-strengthening activities and investments. These range from direct efforts at democratic reform to mission-driven public policy work, from building community capacity to encouraging greater diversity on their own or their grantees’ boards or staff.


Democracy Northwest builds on Philanthropy Northwest’s long- standing public policy and advocacy efforts, which gained additional focus and momentum with the Spring 2014 publication of Daniel Kemmis' Philanthropy and the Renewal of Democracy, updated in Fall 2016. In Spring 2016, we launched the first phase of Democracy Northwest with a series of conversations seeking to explore philanthropy’s role in strengthening our democracy. The culmination of this first phase occurred at Philanthropy Northwest’s 2016 conference, Under One Sky, focused on the intersection of democracy and equity.

Democracy Northwest panel (l to r) at 2016 conference: Daniel Kemmis, Carol Lewis, Garland Yates and Antony Chiang

How Can Philanthropy Strengthen Democracy?

Our exploration together has led us to take action in the following areas:

  • Broaden the Conversation: We will spark, inform and support conversation among an expanding group of interested philanthropy leaders in the Pacific Northwest about the why, what, how, who and where of democracy work in philanthropy.
  • Develop Tools: We will develop tools for philanthropy practitioners to help them learn about and develop strategies to strengthen democracy; use democratic practices to strengthen their overall work; and champion the importance of democracy work within philanthropy.
  • Support a Community of Practice: We will organize and support a community of practice among practitioners interested in collaborative learning and work.

Democracy Northwest Resources

Past Programs & Materials

Blog Posts


We are thankful for the support of our current Democracy Northwest funders who have helped us get to this point in the initiative: 

For more information about Democracy Northwest, contact Remy Trupin at