One year from today, over 150 million voters will have cast their ballots in the 2024 Presidential Election. At the top of the ticket, this election will determine appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, the timeline of the transition to green energy, and policies that impact the lives of billions of people around the world. Voters will also determine the outcomes of thousands of elections further down the ballot, which will not only impact who has control of Congress but also sheriffs and prosecutors, state legislatures, and state-level constitutional amendments on abortion access and voting rights. In hundreds of close contests at all levels, communities that have been historically marginalized will have the opportunity to have their voices heard.
To center communities of color, youth, and low-income people in this pivotal upcoming election, the Tides Foundation Healthy Democracy Fund is resourcing organizations rooted in and led by these communities. These organizations will knock on doors, make phone calls, hold cultural events, create multilingual videos, staff Election Day and early voting voter assistance hotlines, and engage in the critical work necessary to shift power to encourage civic participation in the communities that have historically faced systemic barriers to doing so.
The high level of polarization means that disinformation about the validity of the 2020 election will likely follow us into 2024. Close electoral outcomes may spur partisan interference in election certifications and potential violence, as they did in 2020 and on January 6, 2021. One year from today, the voting may be over, but the 2024 election is unlikely to be settled. As donors and doers, we must be ready to continue to act well beyond November 5, 2024, to ensure the certification of fair elections and peaceful transitions of power.
To prepare for these many efforts, both leading up to and following the 2024 election, the Healthy Democracy Fund has prioritized funding the nonpartisan activities of state- and local organizations that are active participants in their communities year-round. Resourcing these organizations in 2023 means that these organizations will have the teams and systems ready to ensure the voices of their communities are protected and heard during this pivotal election cycle.
In 2023, the Healthy Democracy Fund awarded 120 organizations $17 million, an expansion from $10 million in 2022, bucking national trends in declines in funding in 2023. HDF’s grantmaking enabled grantees to continue organizing in 2023, a year that has seen tremendous dropoff in giving across the progressive movement, leading to layoffs and decrease in capacity. 501(c)(4) organizations have experienced particularly acute declines in funding.
HDF’s investments in mission-aligned lobbying and nonpartisan projects housed at 501(c)(4) organizations enable those grantees to use more tools for advocacy, organizing, and shifting power in their communities. Of the 120 organizations, 58 were 501(c)(3) organizations, and HDF funded nonpartisan projects at 54 501(c)(4) organizations and contributed $5.7 million to two ballot initiatives in Ohio to protect the ballot measure as a tool for direct democracy and restore abortion access through constitutional amendments. Drawing upon Tides Foundation’s lobbying capacity and track record in complex grantmaking, the Healthy Democracy Fund funded $7 million in lobbying expenditures by community organizations in 2023.
With only two months remaining in 2023, the Healthy Democracy Fund and Tides Foundation as a whole are shifting our attention to maximizing opportunities for long-term power building among people of color, young people, and low-income people to increase their representation and voices through the 2024 elections. These year-round investments allow coalitions to train and coordinate partners, organizations to recruit members to develop into field captains, young people to register and learn how to vote in their first elections, and volunteers to become trusted leaders among their neighbors.
As James Hayes, Co-Director of Ohio Voice, shared during our most recent briefing, “scared money don’t make money.” With generous support from our donors, the Healthy Democracy Fund is throwing our chips in early. We are funding community organizations year-round and at-scale because our democracy depends on them. We hope that you partner with us in the coming year to shift and strengthen power in the 2024 elections.