Democracy Northwest

Democracy Northwest

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.


Democracy Lens

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

Alaska Bright Spot: Voter Registration


Hawai'i Democracy Charts    


Idaho Democracy Charts

Idaho Bright Spot: Supporting an Accurate Census Count

Idaho Bright Spot: Solving Problems for the Common Good



Montana Democracy Charts

Montana Bright Spot: Developing Young People’s Skills to Find Policy Solutions

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: Partnership for an Accurate Census Count

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

Washington Bright Spot: Democracy Vouchers in Seattle


Wyoming Democracy Charts

Wyoming Bright Spot: Budget Advocacy for COVID-19 Funding

Wyoming Bright Spot: Merit Selection for Judges

Interested in learning more about democracy building?

Contact our policy team to explore how philanthropy can play a role in strengthening democracy or to submit questions or ideas for future Bright Spots.