Overcoming my initial despair at how Congress seems hopelessly divided and the courts have become an ideological battleground, I wanted to see if philanthropy had any answers. To find out I turned to “Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy,” Candid’s free public web platform that tracks how foundations are working to improve democratic practice, the money involved in doing so, and relevant research.
Our storytellers always look at what's behind and beyond the hashtag and work hard to report on systemic transformation. The fact that they are also eager to vote on Election Day gives me hope and brings me back to that moment many years ago when I was challenged to make a choice between being a journalist or being a Black citizen of the United States.
In early 2019, Candid asked 645 of the largest U.S. foundations if they had changed their funding priorities in 2017 and 2018 as a result of the 2016 presidential election. The vast majority (88 percent) of the respondents said their organizations made “few or no changes” to their giving priorities during the two years following the election. About one in eight (12 percent) reported making “some notable changes.”
Workplace giving in support of political and social causes and in response to current events in the United States has increased significantly since 2016, a report from giving platform Benevity finds.
Election season is upon us with the upcoming presidential caucuses and primaries beginning in February and the hundreds of other contests on the national, state, and local levels to be decided next week. During this time, it’s imperative for both foundations and public charities to understand the rules surrounding election-related activities. Charities have an opportunity to engage in important nonpartisan work during elections, such as get-out-the-vote activities, voter registration, and voter education work. At the same time, however, the Internal Revenue Code provides that charities may not “directly or indirectly participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
In a little over a year, America could see the unthinkable: the highest level of voter participation in living memory. And based on insights gleaned from recent research, voter messaging focused on issues and empowerment is likely to be key to the turnout.
Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) is a community of funders that invest in the sustaining elements of democracy and civic life in the United States. Earlier this year, a PACE-led research effort set out to gain a deeper understanding of the way everyday Americans understand the language that we as practitioners use to describe this work. In other words, when we say words such as civic engagement, activism, justice, and even democracy, what do most Americans hear, and what—if anything—does they mean to them? The results both challenged and affirmed our understanding.
Written by Allen Smart and Betsey Russell. The 2020 Census is the single most important event for rural America in recent history. Its impact will be felt for decades to come. And while most of the focus of the public discussion around the census has been on the prospective citizenship question (rightfully so), there also are fundamental changes in census methodology hidden in the weeds of the process that have the potential to diminish federal and state investment in rural America by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Mark Zuckerman joined the Century Foundation as president in 2015. A veteran of the Obama administration, Zuckerman has worked over the last four years to bring the organization’s research efforts and policy work into the twenty-first century. PND spoke with Zuckerman recently about some of those changes, the meaning of the 2018 midterm elections, and the Foundation’s efforts to advance a progressive policy agenda.
Traditionally, support for youth civic engagement declines at the end of an election cycle and resumes as the next cycle starts to heat up — along with thought pieces about why young people don’t vote. To break this pattern, I offer a suggestion: increase investment in youth organizing groups now; don't wait until 2020.