Civic Engagement, Inclusive Impact

Call for Submissions: New Profit to Make $800,000 Investment in 8 Nonpartisan Democracy Organizations

January 4, 2021

Thank you for your interest in New Profit’s Civic Lab. The deadline to submit an application for Civic Lab 2021 has passed. If your organization works in the civic engagement or democracy reform space and you were unable to apply, we invite you to participate in our Democracy Entrepreneurs Directory. The Directory is a resource that we will share with the New Profit network and other philanthropists to amplify the work of organizations like yours. Learn more about the opportunity here.

In order to build an inclusive democracy grounded in civic trust, we need a reimagined 21st century civil society. This is why we launched Civic Lab in 2019. And during this momentous time in our country, we are thrilled to invite the most innovative democracy entrepreneur-led organizations to apply for the 2021 cohort.

— Yordanos Eyoel, New Profit Managing Partner and Lead of Civic Lab

Our democracy is in a crisis. 

Only 17% of Americans trust their government, and this lack of trust has proliferated from institutional distrust to distrust among one another as a people. Voter suppression and intimidation tactics have weakened our democracy while, simultaneously, America lacks the infrastructure needed for a secure, credible, and multimodal election process. Yet, despite this lack of democratic infrastructure, Americans pour more money into each election cycle than any other democracy in the world. The 2020 election alone cost in excess of $14 billion, surpassing the already staggering numbers of the election cycles preceding it. These dollars are the fuel that has powered more than 4.9 million television advertisements, countless campaign rallies, and millions more placements on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, all in the name of swaying voters to a specific agenda. What these dollars have not done is rebuild the foundations on which our democracy stands.

While this election cycle has cost $14 billion, total philanthropic spending on media, government accountability, civic participation, as well as campaign, election, and voting reform all add up to only ~$10 billion—not over the past year, but over the past decade. Funding to the nonprofit and nonpartisan civic space is scarce. Even the most ambitious and effective democracy entrepreneurs often find their organizations flushed with cash when a major election approaches, yet struggle to support their staff and continue their progress in the months and years following. We cannot expect our democracy organizations to create meaningful and enduring change when they remain dependent on cyclical funding around elections. These democracy entrepreneurs are fighting to uphold and rebuild our democracy—  one that works for and by the people of the United States.  

New Profit’s Civic Lab

New Profit’s Civic Lab is a leading nonpartisan fund that invests in and grows innovative solutions building civic trust and an inclusive democracy in America. In its inaugural year, Civic Lab invested in 7 leading democracy organizations

Our investments are guided by four principles: 

  1. We believe democracy entrepreneurs who represent the diversity of our country should be at the helm of leading efforts to transform the civic destiny of our country.
  2. We invest in the long game. We need to unlock the latent power of everyday Americans to create enduring local leadership that will drive and sustain civic participation.
  3. We need breakthrough solutions that target the underlying structural and systemic conditions creating disenfranchisement in our democracy.
  4. We are committed to diversity of demographics, thought, and geography to unleash the full ingenuity and innovation to move our country forward.

To address the complexity of the democracy space in the United States, we invest in organizations that work across five different levers, all to create increased civic trust and build a civic culture in America:

Grassroots Organizing l Building Diverse Pipelines for Public Office l Policy Advocacy l Narrative to Counteract Polarization & Misinformation l Data Systems & Operations Infrastructure

Our Model

Civic Lab offers a synergistic support model to work with and towards the needs of each organization, creating value across several dimensions. This includes a peer learning community in each cohort, 1:1 personal coaching for the democracy entrepreneur, consultations with external content experts, New Profit’s tested capacity building framework and tools, as well as $50,000- $100,000 in unrestricted support. 

While each cohort has different needs, the base of our capacity-building program consists of: 

  • Refining systems theory of change and connecting it to a compelling story of impact
  • Assessing organizational strengths and capabilities and areas for improvement
  • Building effective boards of directors
  • Developing effective practices for managing teams/ stakeholders 
  • Identifying effective practices for operational excellence in order to execute against organizational strategy (fundraising, finance, HR, and communications) 
  • 1-2 Additional topics cohort members identify as areas of need

We are seeking the most innovative nonpartisan democracy entrepreneur-led organizations in our country. Consistent with New Profit’s Inclusive Impact strategy, 80% of our investments will be in organizations led by Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous Leaders.

To learn more and/or apply, please refer to the following resources:

For any questions, please contact