Philanthropy depends on a healthy democracy.
Democracy Northwest is an initiative of Philanthropy Northwest focused on supporting funders to become effective partners with communities to build a more inclusive and just democracy. Protecting and strengthening democracy is a critical part of advancing racial equity, the center of our work. The solutions to any of the myriad issues we care about rely on recognizing this relationship.
Philanthropies can only achieve their goals in a democracy that works. But many people do not trust institutions in the United States, finding them neither accountable nor reflective of the diverse communities they serve.
New data from the Pacific Northwest show concerning trends including a lack of racial diversity in political representation, a decline in local newspapers and limited voter participation. Across all funders and grantmaking areas, a declining democracy hurts philanthropies’ missions, grantees and communities.
The charitable sector, which maintains some public trust, can help strengthen democracy so that it works for everyone. Activities can range across the spectrum below. The rest of this page highlights data and stories from your state and what your organization can do.
How Funders Can Engage
Democracy Northwest Funders Table
Philanthropy Northwest’s Democracy Northwest Funders Table is a space for members focused on civic engagement, community power-building and making political representation more inclusive and accountable. Conversations include guest speakers ranging from grassroots advocates to elected officials. To learn more, contact our policy team.
Philanthropy Northwest produces the Democracy Lens, a set of resources to demonstrate how democracy issues have impacted your state. Below, check out the Democracy Charts, which provide key data for each state, and the case studies (known as Bright Spots), which show how funders invest in democracy and where they can do more.
|Alaska Democracy Charts
|Alaska Bright Spot: Navigating Alaska’s Budget Crisis to Preserve Essential Programs
|Hawai'i Democracy Charts
|Idaho Democracy Charts
|Idaho Bright Spot: Solving Problems for the Common Good
|Montana Democracy Charts
|Montana Bright Spot: Convenings of Civic Leaders to Strengthen Democracy
|Montana Bright Spot: The Role of Philanthropy in Montana’s Civic Culture
|Oregon Democracy Charts
|Oregon Bright Spot: Citizen Engagement and Voter Education
|Washington Democracy Charts
|Washington Bright Spot: Philanthropy Addressing a Local Press in Decline
|Washington Bright Spot: Sharing Power for Shared Prosperity
|Wyoming Democracy Charts
|Wyoming Bright Spot: Merit Selection for Judges