Below is a regularly-updated list of nonprofit organizations, foundations, projects, and programs that contribute meaningful impact to democracy. These initiatives are exemplary in demonstrating commitment to more effective democratic processes and address issues such as protecting and expanding journalism, voter mobilization, civic education, and more. These resources are based on research from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy.
- The American Journalism Project (AJP) is an initiative that seeks to grow the resources available for local journalism by investing in a new model for sustainable, mission-based news organizations.
- AJP’s two co-founders have proven with their own news outlets that they can make civc news organizations more financially sustainable. The Texas Tribune launched in 2009 with a staff of 18, and has grown to 63 full-time employees by 2018.
- Philanthropists can give directly to AJP, or work with their preferred newsroom to submit a proposal for AJP’s first round of grants. Funders can find a list of local, nonprofit newsrooms at the Institute for Nonprofit News.
- This nonprofit civic journalism lab based on the south side of Chicago has been reinventing local journalism since 2015. City Bureau has expanded who reports and contributes to stories and has created forums where citizens engage with public affairs.
- With its programs, City Bureau provides more comprehensive and relevant coverage by expanding and diversifying the sources of information it uses to inform stories.
- Funders can support City Bureau directly or replicate the model in other communities: Mississippi Today has adopted the Public Newsrooms while Detroit’s WDET, Outlier Media, and CitizenDetroit have replicated the Documenters program. City Bureau estimates it costs $175,000 to $200,000 to fully pilot the program.
- Resolve Philadelphia is an organization that develops and advances journalism built on equity, collaboration, and the elevation of community voices and solutions.
- Reporters in partner newsrooms attest that the capacity and diversity of perspectives Resolve provides leads to articles that outlets could not report in isolation.
- Funders can sustain Resolve directly or by supporting the newsrooms that make up the reporting collaborative. Funders can also donate to the Solutions Journalism Network which supports journalists practicing solutions journalism.
- Faith in Action uses an integrated voter engagement approach to embed voter mobilization into the activities of faith-based organizations.
- In organizing faith-based communities, Faith in Action taps into networks that are more diverse and representative than most organized civic groups, which are disproportionately white, college-educated and professional. When mobilized, these networks have successfully engendered responsive policy.
- Faith in Action’s model allows for funder support at both the national and local levels.
- This organization models how technology and in-person engagement can be used to foster broad, deliberative participation. Called Draw the Lines PA, this initiative helps citizens make informed and effective contributions to the debate on gerrymandering, fosters broad participation through in-person events, and facilitates face-to-face meetings between citizens and policymakers.
- Draw the Lines demonstrates citizens’ capacity to successfully engage on a complex subject. Since 2017, Draw the Lines has held two mapping contests that included over 150 in-person events, attracted more than 6,000 people, and resulted in 2,685 citizens creating maps on DistrictBuilder, the website hosting the redrawing tool.
- Draw the Lines and parent Committee of Seventy rely exclusively on philanthropic support. Additional funding would enable it to reach more mappers and hold more “mapathons” at various high schools and colleges, which cost between $3,000 to $4,000.
- Many U.S. towns and small cities have been destabilized by growth and development, while others are suffering from loss of industry, population decline, and uncertainty over their future. To empower community responses to these challenges, the Orton Family Foundation supports resident-driven town planning through its Community Heart & Soul program.
- In 2008 Orton awarded a $100,000 grant to Golden, Colorado, to create a long-term development plan: Golden Vision 2030, finalized in 2010. Through various CAT events, over 2,000 residents—more than 11% of Golden’s population—participated.
- Orton is a private operating foundation based in Shelburne, Vt. Funders can support its work through its local partners sponsoring ongoing projects, or contact the foundation about implementing the model in their own community.
- Generation Citizen (GC) helps teachers incorporate action-based projects into civics education, preparing students to be active participants in democracy.
- Internal GC evaluations found that after participating in its program, nine in 10 students indicated they could make a difference in their communities and believe that challenging injustice is important, and seven in 10 improved their collaboration skills and knowledge of local government structures. Over half increased in civic knowledge, skills, and motivation.
- Donations can support GC’s national organization or any of its six program sites. Funders can support civics education more broadly through the CivXNow coalition.
- LWV’s autonomous local chapters support citizens working together on local issues, while their state and national affiliates sponsor debates and advocate face to face with policy makers.
- Earlier successful reform efforts led by LWV of Maine created public financing for election campaigns, restored same-day voter registration, and mandated increased transparency in lobbying the state legislature.
- Funders can support the League of Women Voters by becoming a member or by making a donation to the national organization or any of the over 700 state and local chapters.
Learning and benchmarking are key steps towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact on Philanthropy take a look at these selections from Giving Compass.
Looking for a way to get involved?
Learning with others and benchmarking are key steps towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact for Civil Society, take a look at these events, galas, conferences and volunteering opportunities to connect with individuals like you.
Are you ready to give?
In addition to learning and connecting with others, taking action is a key step towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact for Civil Society take a look at these Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations or Projects.