Who We Are
Democracy Fund is an independent and nonpartisan, private foundation that confronts deep-rooted challenges in American democracy while defending against new threats. Since 2014, we have made grants of more than $150 million in support of those working to strengthen our democracy through the pursuit of a vibrant and diverse public square, free and fair elections, effective and accountable government, and a just and inclusive society.
A first-generation American, Pierre Omidyar created Democracy Fund out of a deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values. Pierre believes we have a civic responsibility to support and defend just democratic institutions. Each of us has a stake in ensuring that people with differing perspectives debate and fairly determine the priorities of the country, while protecting the dignity and equal rights of every individual.
Today, our republic faces extraordinary challenges that undermine the principles of our Constitution and the strength of our union. Hyper-partisanship, growing inequality, and technology’s disruption of our media and economy have emerged as deep threats to American democracy alongside much older challenges like structural racism, the influence of money in politics, and unresponsive political institutions. While our political system is resilient and has endured through times of severe stress, the ongoing health and vitality of our republic depends on each of us standing against immediate threats and engaging in the long struggle to ensure that our country lives up to its democratic ideals.
Our Vision and Mission
We envision an open and just democracy that is resilient in the face of change and worthy of the American people’s trust.
To get there, Democracy Fund champions the leaders who defend democracy and who challenge our political system to be more open and just.
Our Core Beliefs
Democracy Fund is committed to advancing and defending a set of core beliefs — seven pillars of an open and just democracy that guide our grantmaking and shape our work.
We believe in the dignity of every individual and in the equal protection of their rights under the law.
We believe all people have intrinsic value and that bigotry in any form undermines our democracy. We must protect and preserve the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
We believe that voting is the cornerstone of our democracy.
Every eligible American should have an equal opportunity to vote in elections that are free, fair, accessible, and secure. Voters should also have access to diverse sources of information to help them make informed judgments between candidates who reflect meaningful choices and whom voters trust to represent their interests. Further, our election system should offer candidates a level playing field. It should provide voters with confidence in the integrity of election outcomes and assurance that they have a voice in our democracy.
We believe a just and equitable political system must eliminate structural barriers to ensure historically excluded communities have meaningful influence in our democracy.
America’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. Our democracy depends on our ability to work across our many dimensions of difference to achieve the common good. Our shameful history of enslavement and abuse toward Native communities, as well as the ongoing marginalization of groups based on their identity, diminish our nation and our politics. To achieve a just and equitable democracy, we must amplify the efforts of unjustly marginalized groups to be heard, stand against those who promote bigotry and hate, and dismantle barriers that prevent equitable representation in our political system.
We believe that constitutional checks and balances and respect for the rule of law are critical to protect against abuses of power.
First among these checks are three co-equal branches of government and a federal system of state and local governments. Respect for the rule of law and transparency of government also help ensure fair and equal treatment of all individuals and groups. Independent institutions, media, and civil society play an additional critical role in holding those in power accountable to the Constitution, the law, and the people. Finally, the public retains the right to petition or protest non-violently against those in power without fear of retaliation or severe repercussions.
We believe that a healthy democracy cannot exist without a participatory, vibrant public square, including an independent, free press.
Democracy isn’t just about Election Day. Active community engagement and a strong civic fabric improve the quality of our public life, help communities solve problems, and support civic education. Participation builds and reflects public confidence in the political system. It also signals that people believe both their voice and the institutions of our democracy matter. Robust, dynamic media inform the public, expose them to alternative viewpoints, and help them see their lives and interests reflected in our national conversation.
We believe that informed dialogue and principled compromise are essential to governing a large, diverse, and complex society like America.
At least two healthy and competitive political parties are required to check each other’s power and ensure that minority viewpoints are represented in the policymaking process. In this context, neither party holds a lock on good or bad ideas. Instead, dialogue, cooperation, and principled compromise within and between the parties produce sustainable policies that have broader support and reflect diverse perspectives and ideas — even if the process can be slow and messy.
We believe that political leaders and elected officials bear an uncommon burden to act with integrity.
In their words and actions, political leaders and elected officials should demonstrate a deep respect for democratic values, the U.S. Constitution, and the dignity of every individual. They should put the public’s best interest ahead of their own private interests and inspire confidence that they are representing their constituents. Furthermore, political leaders and elected officials should speak honestly to the people and deal in facts. For democracy to remain healthy, the people must be able to have confidence in their political leaders and institutions, and trust that our political system is fair and able to deliver on its core responsibilities.
Building an Open and Just Democracy
Our democracy is a complex, imperfect system — a continual work in progress. While our political system has proven resilient over time, it has never fully served the needs of all Americans. We must challenge it to be better.
A more open and just democracy will protect the dignity and rights of all people, hold power accountable, and ensure everyone has a say in shaping America’s future.
Our Democracy Is a Complex System
At Democracy Fund, we believe our democracy is a complex, imperfect system — a work in progress. Improving our democracy requires constant vigilance and new approaches as conditions change. For that reason, we utilize the tools of systems thinking to help us build and adapt our strategies over time. We are a learning organization that acknowledges that we don’t know all of the answers. By using system thinking to understand the imposing challenges facing our democracy, we aim to make sense of complexity and find strategic opportunities to make it stronger.
About Democracy Fund
What We Do
Democracy Fund champions the leaders and organizations who defend democracy and challenge our political system to be more open and just. We believe democracy requires a robust, effective field of reformers, political leaders, and other allies that can fight for our ideals.
As a foundation, we are able to bolster these leaders while advancing the reforms that have the potential to create profound change. We play many roles in service of the field of democracy reform, but first and foremost, we are a funder, an advisor, and an advocate.
Our team is inspired by a deep passion for democracy and a sense of responsibility and service — both to the field and to driving change forward. We are a diverse and highly-collaborative collection of experts, grantmakers, advocates, and strategists. We are curious and open-minded, we embrace learning, and we seek out varied viewpoints.Meet our team
Democracy Fund is solely funded by Pierre Omidyar, and since 2014 has invested more than $150 million to strengthen our democracy. Here we share our most recent audited financial documents and 990s.View financials
Democracy Fund Voice
Our sister organization, Democracy Fund Voice, is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to helping America build a stronger, healthier democracy. Democracy Fund Voice is working to ensure that our political system is responsive to the public and able to meet the greatest challenges facing our nation.Go to Democracy Fund Voice
Democracy Fund is working to build a diverse team of people who are passionate about making American democracy more open and just. As we build our teams, we seek out those who will bring creative approaches to their work, are open to new ideas, and work best in a collaborative environment. If this sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you.