Democracy Fund

The Democracy Fund invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is responsive to the public and able to meet the greatest challenges facing our nation.

Democracy Fund

OUR

PRIORITIES

Of The People

We work to create a more responsive political system by supporting common sense solutions that improve our campaign finance system and modernize the administration of our elections.

By The People

We will seek to foster a more informed and active electorate by providing voters with the information, opportunities for engagement, and skills they need to make informed choices.

For the People

We will support and encourage our political system to solve our most pressing problems by fostering dialogue across the ideological spectrum and by supporting reforms that decrease the incentives for hyper-partisanship.

Of The People

A Responsive Political System

Government “of the people” requires a political system that provides the public with a fair and equal opportunity to influence the direction of their government. Our election and campaign finance systems must provide the public with confidence that their voices can be heard and that they have the ability to hold their leaders to account for their actions.

Burdensome rules and out-of-date systems often lead to elections that lack integrity and create substantial barriers to vote. We need solutions that will make voting more convenient and empower the public servants who run our elections to be more effective. Democracy Fund grantees, like Pew’s Elections Initiatives and MIT’s Voting Technology Project, support the smart use of technology, policy, and best practices in the administration of elections. They serve to create election systems that we can all be proud of — where it’s the will of the public, and not the electoral procedures, that determines the winner.

Recent Supreme Court rulings as well as congressional and executive inaction have left us with a campaign finance system that works for too few. Elected officials may spend almost as much time raising money as they do governing, and the public believes that their voices have little influence compared to those of organized and special interests. We need fixes to our campaign finance system that increase the public’s voice in our political process and reduce the dependency of political leaders on special financial interests.

The Democracy Fund supports unbiased research, promotes bipartisan dialogue, and searches for unconventional solutions that improve our campaign finance and election administration systems. Our aim is to understand and build consensus around those solutions that serve the needs of the American people. Some of our grantees in this area include: Campaign Finance Institute, Committee for Economic Development, Demos, Fund for the Republic, MIT’s Voting Technology Project, Overseas Vote Foundation, Piper Fund’s Collaborative Communications Initiative on Money in Politics, Pew Elections Initiatives, Reinvent Albany, and TurboVote.

The Democracy Fund has invested in TurboVote to take their new breed of “civic tech” to the elections community. Paper-based voter registration can be complicated and confusing for voters and elections officials, but TurboVote’s web and mobile technology makes the registration and voting process easier. TurboVote solutions have already been deployed on well over a hundred college campuses across the country. By working with election officials to solve problems, TurboVote gives those officials more time to focus on the needs of voters.

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By The People

INFORMED PARTICIPATION

Government “by the people” depends on voters having the information and skills needed to govern. Media must combat misinformation, expose voters to different points of view, inform the public debate, and engage citizens.

To create a more informed electorate, the Democracy Fund will strengthen accountability journalism that holds political leaders accountable for what they say and provides voters with adequate context to draw conclusions about the choices in front of them. We cannot eliminate deception, but we can reduce its dissemination through media and call leaders to account for what they say.

At the local level, we will ensure the public has access to quality journalism by making resources available to support local news and experimenting with new models to ensure the financial sustainability of local public interest journalism. We will also work with media reformers to increase the diversity of viewpoints to which the public is exposed, and foster more sustainable and effective journalistic institutions.

Voters need to be armed with greater capacity to decipher political communications and the Democracy Fund will explore scalable approaches to public deliberation, news literacy education, and platforms that encourage greater interaction with information and with other citizens. Some of our grantees in this area include: American Press Institute, Columbia Journalism Review, Engaging News Project, Healthy Democracy Fund, Online News Association, and Punditfact.

The Democracy Fund has invested in the Investigative News Network in order to address the challenges of sustaining investigative journalism at the local level. The Investigative News Network is dedicated to addressing this issue by helping nonprofit news organizations produce and distribute stories with impact, achieve cost efficiencies by pooling resources, and develop new revenue streams to become sustainable businesses.

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For the People

PROBLEM SOLVING AND GOVERNANCE

Government “for the people” requires our political process to have the capacity to rise above our differences and find solutions to our most pressing problems. Unfortunately, the polarization of American politics has often left our political institutions paralyzed and unable to function. While we may be unable to significantly reduce polarization in the near term, we must find ways to ensure that our governing institutions function so that important problems may be addressed.

New political institutions are needed to support authentic dialogue and collaborative problem solving among citizens, advocates, and leaders. And political reforms are needed to create a greater incentive to reach across the aisle and work towards principled compromise.

The Democracy Fund seeks to foster better, more trusting relationships among political leaders and encourage greater civility to increase their capacity to work together to solve problems. Many of our grantees, like the Faith & Politics Institute, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, and the No Labels Foundation, have found creative ways to forge bonds between leaders and create space for bipartisan dialogue. Other grantees, like the Bipartisan Policy Center and FairVote, have studied reforms to our electoral system and to Congressional procedures in order to reduce the institutional influences that produce hyper-partisanship.

Grantees in this area include: Bipartisan Policy Center, FairVote, Faith & Politics Institute, National Institute for Civil Discourse, and No Labels Foundation.

The Democracy Fund has invested in the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Democracy Program in order to identify and assess bipartisan solutions that reduce political polarization and make American democracy work better. In 2014, BPC released bipartisan recommendations from its Commission on Political Reform, which assessed how Congress could work better through a set of procedural reforms and analyzed the effectiveness of different types of election reforms to encourage primary and other voting.

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