Strengthening Democracy

Multiple surveys over the past decade have revealed Americans’ declining confidence in political institutions, and approval ratings of elected officials in the U.S. are also at historic lows. Against this backdrop, billions of dollars of philanthropic funds have gone to support democracy-fostering institutions: Foundation Center reports that nearly $5 billion has been given to democracy programs in the United States since 2011.  As our politics appear to be growing more angry, loud, and hateful, more and more funders are asking, ‘How can philanthropy strengthen democracy?’

Through literature review, relevant data analysis, and expert consultation with academics, funders, and practitioners, CHIP aims to answer that question. Our guidance will describe characteristics of a strong democracy; outline the most promising, evidence-based strategies for strengthening democracy—and provide indicators to help understand progress. Our partner in developing this guidance is Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar that invests in organizations working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

Contact Conor Carroll, Social Impact Fellow, at conorpc@upenn.edu to learn more.

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