Romilda Avila is CEO of Tides Advocacy (formerly the Advocacy Fund), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization working with a network of fiscally sponsored 501(c)(4) projects and funds to strengthen political infrastructure and support power building and policy reform led by those most impacted by injustice.
On January 6, we witnessed an unprecedented attack on American democracy — the culmination of a sustained campaign to undermine the integrity of the November 2020 election and, ultimately, overturn the will of the people. While our democracy withstood the assault, the insurrection revealed its underlying vulnerability.
The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on almost all sectors of the economy, including retail, restaurants, the travel industry, and media and journalism. Since the pandemic, more than 60 local newsrooms across the United States have closed. Some had been operating in their communities for more than one hundred years.
If you’re like me, you have been reading and listening nonstop to make sense out the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Amidst all the confusion, there is one thing I know for sure: foundations have a unique role to play in helping us find our future.
In early September, Global Citizen and HeadCount, announced Just Vote, a three-year initiative to encourage U.S. employers to provide paid time off for their staff to vote and volunteer. In response, Ford Foundation president Darren Walker and Wallace Global Fund executive director Ellen Dorsey penned an op-ed calling on the philanthropic sector to join and support these campaigns.
We often hear that nonprofits are nonpartisan, and it’s true that U.S. tax law prohibits public charities—which make up the bulk of the nonprofit sector in the United States—from supporting or opposing specific political candidates, parties, and ballot measures. Of course, it doesn’t mean these organizations can’t have a position on issues.
History has shown that presidential election years can equate to big giving years for some nonprofits. In particular, organizations whose agendas counter those of the winning candidate can end up receiving a drastic spike in giving. Looking at Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy, we see that foundation support nationwide for democracy-related projects jumped 24 percent from 2015 to 2016, to $1.2 billion—and this figure has only continued to grow, totaling $1.3 billion in 2017 and $1.8 billion in 2018.
Senate Republicans' rush to fill the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat before the election is a terrible blow to Black people's civil rights and the health of our communities.
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.