NEXUS staff and alumni have created new platforms for intergenerational philanthropic learning and collaboration, including:

And the…

Healthy Democracy Coalition

As part of the movement to catalyze change NEXUS is uniting donors from diverse cultural and political backgrounds and developing a new coalition of philanthropists who wish to join forces to fund projects and institutions that support political bridge building as well as healthier and more effective democracy.

A Donor Coalition for Bridge Building

Philanthropy and social entrepreneurship are pillars of progress, but to be a truly successful government one must be a driving force for good as well. We believe that real collaboration across political divides does not compromise deeply held values or produce weak ideas that excite no one. We believe that real collaboration unleashes creativity and generates new possibilities. The Healthy Democracy Coalition will give donors the opportunity to cross divides and make a difference by creating new solutions through dialogue and through collaborative funding. At the same time, donors will learn how to bring collaborative practices to their own institutions, families, and fields of interest. The Healthy Democracy Coalition seeks to unite donors to work cooperatively with those who have divergent points of view. It is supported by the Fetzer Institute, the Madison Initiative of the Hewlett Foundation, and other partners.

Why now?

The current economic and political climate has highlighted the unmet needs of our communities. Increasingly, Americans feel an urge to address our societal problems more effectively. Public discussions in the media about pressing issues make little progress, while our legislative system suffers increasingly from paralysis. Our zero-sum political culture is increasingly dividing the country, as Democrats and Republicans are channeled into a process that prioritizes the struggle for power over the search for solutions. At the same time, negative campaigning and fear-based political fundraising push many voters away from the electoral process and undermine our civic health.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Despite evidence of increasing polarization, most leaders recognize the problems produced by these trends and want change. Good people are caught up in bad processes. There is growing recognition that our adversarial approach to politics and problem-solving needs to be fixed. The health of our democracy is at stake. Indeed, there are many examples of collaboration across ideological divides as well as systems and institutions that facilitate better and more effective decision-making. These various groups and structures provide successful models, but they still need to have a much greater national impact. More bridge-building and democracy strengthening is needed, and that, in turn, requires more initiatives – and more funding.

Unfortunately, there exist few support mechanisms for philanthropists to join forces across cultural and political boundaries or to fund projects outside of the usual political and economic stovepipes. Traditionally, most donor groups come together around specific issues or partisan approaches. Such alignments leave little room for donors and organizations to focus on bridge-building.

How will it work?

The Healthy Democracy Coalition aims to:
A) Host a network of high-level philanthropists who seek better ways to strengthen democracy and build bridges across social, cultural, and political divides.
B) Convene events to facilitate group learning and collaboration.
C) Manage a portfolio of prospective grantees and projects that deserve financial support.

The program will gather donors (many who would otherwise never meet) and facilitate dialogue among them to explore how collaboration can lead to achieving common goals. The process will showcase: 1) strategies for strengthening democracy, 2) examples of donors who are political opponents yet who collaborate effectively, 3) evaluation of promising bridge-building and democracy-strengthening initiatives that can be brought to scale with support from the donor community. Issues of focus will range from structural and social to cultural and economic, often in the public policy realm.

How to Participate

Want to get involved? Wish to help design the program?
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If you are a donor or planning to become one (or you represent one) please take our survey here. Depending on your answers to the survey we will reach out to you. If you are not a donor, but wish to help, please write to us and tell us about yourself and your work. You may contact us at: