Grant Process

Democracy Fund aims to play a catalytic role in improving our political system through grantmaking. We typically make a substantial investment in the success of our grantee organizations. Democracy Fund DOES NOT accept unsolicited proposals. We proactively seek new grants based on strategic priorities and typically identify new grantee partners from within our network of allies and contacts. We work closely with grantee partners to help them achieve their goals. To have the greatest impact, we invest according to the following criteria:

  • Alignment. We look for organizations aligned with our mission of making democracy work better. We seek nonprofit organizations that use innovative approaches that are in keeping with our three programs and strategic priorities.
  • Impact. We identify organizations that produce significant outcomes by influencing practices among existing institutions, shifting incentives and behavior of political leaders, building effective sectors, and altering public attitudes and behavior.
  • Potential for Scale. We look for organizations with significant growth potential, and the ability to scale operations to influence the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. We prefer to work with nonprofits that are on a path toward operational sustainability where possible.
  • Leadership. We invest in management teams with a proven track record in their field of operation and an ability to articulate a clear vision and strategy, reinforced by a viable business plan. The organization must practice exemplary governance with operational efficiency and controls, transparent practices, and disciplined financial planning.
  • Innovation. We seek organizations that employ creative, entrepreneurial strategies to accomplish their goals. Grantees may disrupt the status quo, establish a new paradigm, or pioneer services for untapped markets.

Please note that Democracy Fund policy allows up to 10 percent of university project expenses to be for indirect costs.

Partnering for Results

We invest in the success of our grantee partners, collaborating with them to achieve shared goals while learning together. As appropriate to each partnership, Democracy Fund team can help:

  • Provide knowledge on topics where we have expertise or experience;
  • Support capacity building in key areas, such as strategy, management, operations, human resources, legal matters, and communications;
  • Make introductions to relevant contacts in our network who might offer useful insights, practices, or resources;
  • Connect grantee partners to help them pursue synergies, build relationships, and share ideas.

Through each partnership, we expect to generate deeper understanding of the systems we seek to influence to improve democracy. We therefore value the mutual learning opportunities inherent in each investment we make. We encourage all grantees and potential grantees to explore our grants database to identify opportunities for collaboration.

Democracy Fund
1200 17th Street NW Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20036