How Democracy Funders Are Making Inroads in the States

In 2016 SIFT put a spotlight on growing healthy state-based civic engagement infrastructure, fostering successful funder/field partnerships, investing in leadership development, and the importance of providing bridge funding to help grantees get past the election cycle and the legislative challenges that follow. The working group leadership met twice over the summer and then in-person in October for a day-long retreat that resulted in goals for the next two years, a vision and scope of work through 2022, and a work plan to guide these efforts. Some of that work is reflected on the SIFT pages of this website. Check them out!

SIFT Programming at the 2016 Convening

Each of these SIFT-related convening sessions aligned with SIFT’s vision of providing a clearinghouse of ideas, best practices and shared learnings around state funding strategies, leadership development, and building power and capacity at the local and state level.  

MINNovations: Lessons from Minnesota’s Fight for Democracy + Equity

Moderated by Steven Cole-Schwartz (The Partnership Funds) this plenary session received the highest ratings of any single session at the convening. Drawing lessons from their exemplary work, leaders from four Minnesota base-building organizations set a place-based context for the convening by discussing their work and introducing themes that guided subsequent convening programming, including:

  • How short-term wins can build long-term strength
  • Ways to connect communities to policy change
  • What can happen when you invest in leadership development
  • Examples of successful funder/field partnerships

Growing Healthy State Infrastructure

Moderated by Karen Narasaki (NEO Philanthropy) this “fish bowl” discussion surfaced ways that national funders, local funders and grantees can work together in states to nurture an effective and sustainable infrastructure. This session addressed ways to responsibly build and tend to capacity needs while avoiding the pitfalls of drought-and-flood election funding cycles. And it surfaced ways to measure growth toward fruitful state infrastructure.

Investing in Long-term Power Through Leadership Development

SIFT-led Virtual Discussion

The Morning After: Capturing Election Momentum for Movement Building 

Too often funders see a need for bridge funding after Election Day and into a non-election year. This SIFT-led FCCP First Monday Discussion held in October highlighted practical pathways for increasing civic engagement impact in 2016 while building toward successful advocacy, voter engagement and organizing in 2017 and beyond. During this funder discussion the FCCP network crafted potential solutions to help bridge the post-election funding bust and retain grantee capacities at a time when that will be critical: through the first 100 days of a new administration, during spring legislative sessions, and in the lead-up to the state and local elections which will determine the direction of redistricting, democracy-reforms, and issue-advocacy efforts through 2030.

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State Infrastructure Funders Table Leadership Team

Denise Cardinal

Win Minnesota

Steven Cole-Schwartz, Co-chair

The Partnership Funds

Renee Fazzari

General Service Foundation

Cietta Kiandoli

Black Civic Engagement Fund

Scott Nielsen

Arabella Advisors

Anne Summers

The Brico Fund

Denise Whinnen

Gill Foundation