Business must do more to restore our democracy — and philanthropy must help

Chris Jurgens

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.

Now more than ever, we need to defend democracy. The business community bears some responsibility for our current predicament and has an especially important role to play in upholding democratic norms. Philanthropy can help by holding corporate America to account for its role in degrading those norms, and by encouraging reforms that ensure that corporate political activity works for, not against, the public interest.

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Nonprofits, philanthropies lead effort to ensure paid time off for staff to vote

Kindred Motes

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.

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Nonprofits, nonpartisanship, and voting

Anna Koob

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.

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Philanthropy and U.S. democracy since 2016

Sarina Dayal

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.

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Can philanthropy save the courts?

Brad Smith

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.

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Report or Vote? Young BIPOC Journalists Can (and Should) do Both

Kyra Kyles

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.

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Few Large U.S. Foundations Changed Giving Priorities After 2016 Presidential Election

Larry McGill

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.”

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