What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
As the nation continues to battle the pandemic, climate crisis, voter disenfranchisement, mass shootings, and you-name-the-issue, communities of color have been disproportionately affected – and in many cases, devastated. If we’ve learned one lesson in the past few years, it’s that our fates are deeply intertwined: When one group in our society is harmed, eventually all of us are harmed. No matter what issue you’re focused on, without a functioning multi-racial democracy, everything else is not going to work.
Donors have stepped up in myriad ways. Strengthening our democracy is one way that impacts all of the other ways. Voters and donors often don’t feel like their participation matters in elections; approximately 70% of white voters cast ballots in 2020 compared to only 58% of BIPOC voters, though turnout was higher among BIPOC voters than in any previous election. We have a long way to go to close the racial democracy gap -- which can be achieved through deep year-round investments in civic engagement and participation.
Because of the nature of our electoral system, the power of voters in some states is more pivotal. In Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and North Carolina, a very small number of voters will have a disproportionate impact on our collective future.
Movement Voter Project is an aggregator and pro-bono philanthropic advising platform which tracks more than 600 local on-the-ground democracy organizations in more than 40 states. These nonprofits are working to get out the vote in communities of color, among youth, and protecting democracy through voter education and civic advocacy. They have the magical hybrid of trusted community organizing and issue advocacy combined with non-partisan voter engagement -- and are rooted in marginalized communities. They are the best messengers to get out the vote in their communities.
But they can’t do this work without support: We are aware of more than $1 billion in combined budget gaps for voter engagement organizations to have the capacity to fully execute their civic engagement plans this year.
Donors can have a huge impact on the future of our democracy. One only needs to look at the results of the past two presidential election cycles (decided by about 77,000 in three states in 2016, and by about 43,000 votes in three states in 2020) to see what an outsized difference a few votes can make – impacting trillions of dollars, thousands of federal agency appointments, hundreds of judicial appointments, foreign policy, and executive orders as well as federal domestic policy. And if you add up the impact of state and local policy and budgets, they’re just as big as federal.
One billion is a lot of money - but it’s one thousandth of a trillion. And it only represents about .2% (one fifth of one percent) of what Americans donate each year. So a little reallocation would go a long way.
Here are just a few examples of the many local organizations we recommend supporting right now, but we are also happy to make recommendations based on the state or region you live in, or issue areas that you care about. Please contact email@example.com for more information (services are pro-bono). In short: We recommend investing big in democracy this year -- while there’s still a democracy to invest in!
One Arizona formed as a direct response to the growing disenfranchisement of voters and the attack on the Latino and immigrant communities. Table members represent a broad tapestry of 501(c)3s focused on voter registration, voter engagement, voter mobilization, election protection, and issue advocacy. It works collaboratively on civic engagement in statewide and municipal election cycles, which increases the effectiveness, collaboration, and evaluation of those efforts.
ProGeorgia is a nonprofit civic engagement table working to improve Georgia to be a state that cares for its citizens and natural resources by supporting, connecting, and coordinating the civic participation efforts of member groups. It unites more than 30 diverse nonprofit groups to work strategically with new tools and tech to organize around issues, change policies in the state, and increase voter turnout of underrepresented and socially responsible voters.
Houston in Action
Houston In Action is a collaborative of 40-plus organizations from multiple sectors and constituencies united to improve civic engagement in Harris County and develop a countywide vision and strategy for civic engagement. In 2021, Houston in Action prioritized the advancement of electoral reform policies, voter protection, and fair redistricting maps in the 87th Texas Legislative Session, as well as community-based mapping through Unity Maps.
Michigan Voice partners with dozens of grassroots groups organizing traditionally underrepresented and marginalized communities to vote: People of color, single women, youth, and low-income individuals, first-generation immigrant youth, and people formerly incarcerated. A fiscally sponsored project of State Voices, its work is key to voter turnout in upcoming elections, Census participation, and non-partisan redistricting.
Blueprint North Carolina
Blueprint NC is a large State Voices affiliate that works closely with all the key grassroots groups and has registered over 200,000 voters in NC. It provides grants and technical support to many smaller community-based groups for voting as well as Census and non-partisan redistricting, and advocacy around state, county, and local election administration.
A statewide network of more than 35 organizations that share a vision of full participation and representation of people of color, youth, and single women in the state. They build power through census to break barriers to civic participation and centering issues affecting marginalized communities.
African American Roundtable
The African American Roundtable (AART) is a network of Black-led organizations specifically focused on Black civic engagement in the Milwaukee area. AART collaborates to show power, amplify each other’s voices, nurture leadership, promote racial equity and accessibility, and pass policies to radically improve the lives of Black people in Milwaukee.