Topics / Voter Participation

How Philanthropy Has Helped Mobilize People to Become More Politically Involved in Georgia and Elsewhere

The State Infrastructure Fund, established ten years ago with help from the Corporation, has increased voter participation through voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts

“The goal of nonprofit civic engagement efforts is to identify people who have been disconnected from the democratic process and remove barriers from their participation so officials are elected by something closer to a true representative democracy,” writes the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Alex Daniels in a report focused on the success of the State Infrastructure Fund, a philanthropic collaborative housed at NEO Philanthropy that Carnegie Corporation of New York helped to establish ten years ago. 

According to the article, the coalition of nonprofits, with a much smaller budget than political donors, helped drive massive Black turnout in the U.S. Senate run-off races in Georgia. The State Infrastructure Fund has established “tables” in many states so that donors can more efficiently fund voter-education nonprofits, allowing the member organizations to work collaboratively to prioritize and coordinate their get-out-the-vote efforts. The fund is supported by the Corporation, the Democracy Fund, the MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Wallace Global Fund, as well as individual donors including philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. 

“The State Infrastructure Fund made a total of nearly $6 million in grants to support get-out-the-vote efforts in Georgia, with about $2.7 million of that coming in the two months leading up to the run-off,” according to Daniels. In addition to supporting nonprofits, the fund also made grants to other efforts to encourage Black voting, including the New Georgia Project, founded by voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.

Read the full Chronicle of Philanthropy article “Ga. Senate Runoff Shows Philanthropy’s Power to Shape Elections.” 

TOP: A view of a polling station at the Zion Baptist Church on January 5, 2021 in Marietta, Georgia. (Credit: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images)