Giving Compass' Take:

• Scott Nielsen provides strategies for funders to continue to support civic engagement after the 2018 midterm election. 

• What grassroots organizations need the most support? 

• Learn more about strengthening civic engagement

After months of unprecedented energy, citizen participation, and investments of every kind, the 2018 midterm elections are behind us. Beyond the still-developing stories of the individual races, these elections saw several important developments for our democracy, including a nationwide wave of new and diverse candidates, a dramatic increase in first-time voters, and a raft of ballot measures in states around the country that will help preserve and expand the pillars of our democratic institutions and processes.

In many ways, the level of civic energy and community engagement we witnessed this year has been unprecedented, leading to the highest turnout numbers for a midterm election in decades. Funders now have a window of opportunity to build on this energy and engagement—to combat polarization, to champion public interest legislation and serious policy solutions, and to support the new civil society leaders and political entrepreneurs emerging from this cycle. As my colleague Shelley Whelpton recently argued, donors have crucial roles to play in supporting a new and fast-developing ecosystem of people, organizations, ideas, and tools with the potential to revolutionize our politics and strengthen our democracy.

Based on more than 20 years in the sector, I believe the opportunity here is immense and that funders who are concerned about the future of our country should seize it. What can they do? As we pivot away from the midterms and look to federal, state, and local legislative and policy work, community building, and what will surely be a rapid ramp-up of 2020 campaigns, they can start with the following four suggestions.

  1. Continue to invest in the grassroots advocacy and civic engagement infrastructure, especially in states.
  2. Support policy organizations and think tanks, especially in states.
  3. Continue to support capacity building and technical assistance, especially data, research, and other digital tools.
  4. Invest in strengthening the pillars of democracy and democratic institutions.

Read the full article about investing in civic engagement by Scott Nielsen at Arabella Advisors.