The State Infrastructure Funders Table (SIFT) based at FCCP was started in 2010 with one major function: to drive more resources to states and, more specifically, to state-based civic engagement infrastructure. In past election cycles, funding was concentrated at national organizations, leaving nonpartisan civic engagement communities in states poorly resourced and with little ability to build sustainable programs, organizations – and consequently –infrastructure. Much of that investment philosophy has shifted. State-based funding has grown in the last decade and while it has become the accepted norm of how things should be done in civic engagement, as a funding community we have not succeeded in realizing the full potential of state-based infrastructure. We aim to change that.
State Infrastructure Defined
SIFT defines non-partisan democratic state infrastructure as the ways through which Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE) – as a theory or change – organizes our work. These include, but are not limited to the following:
While many funders support these areas individually, SIFT focuses on how all of these capacities fit together to form an “infrastructure” that supports a well-functioning democracy and engaged electorate. In this realm, we highlight the importance of coordination hubs, which attempt to align the work of multiple organizations with varying tax statuses across multiple constituencies, issue interests, and geographies along a path to power in a state. These hubs exist in many forms and are dynamic and constantly evolving. Of equal importance, a network is only as strong as the component organizations that exist within the network, thus the work of a state infrastructure funder is to support the groups executing some or all of the IVE strategies in the list above, as well as the hub.
SIFT has evolved since its inception in 2010. As we build upon the lessons we learned from our exploration of how to become a more impactful network, we are pivoting from simply driving resources to the states to an emphasis on ensuring that our resources are better aligned so they can generate an impact that is greater than any one of our of our institutions could achieve alone.
Our shared vision is effective local and state-based infrastructure in all 50 states: infrastructure that provides connectivity, flexibility, and effectiveness to the important work of ensuring all people have access to and representation in the governmental decisions that shape their lives.