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Leadership Now has helped drive funding from business leaders to organizations like the Center for Responsive Politics, the Voter Participation Center and BridgeUSA.

Group helps channel millions for democracy reform efforts

Business leaders have committed nearly $6 million in funding for political reform groups since last year, through the help of an organization that engages the business community on the structural threats to democracy.

The funding was committed by members of the Leadership Now Project, an organization comprised largely of business leaders that helps channel strategic investment in the political reform space.

Last year, Leadership Now began analyzing the policies and practices of nearly 200 political reform groups to provide the business community and potential donors with a sense of which organizations offered a particularly high return on investment for democracy.

Twenty groups emerged including the Center for Responsive Politics, which received $400,000 in funding from Leadership Now members to assist its tracking of money in politics, the group announced in November.

The 19 other groups, which collectively stand to benefit from $5.4 million in funding, were identified as worthy investments based on various criteria, such as whether a group's goals were politically feasible and its footing was financially healthy.

The funding was specifically targeted toward groups working on high-priority reform efforts, such as improving voter turnout and civil discourse, fighting gerrymandering, promoting ranked-choice voting and enhancing government transparency.

Beneficiaries included the Center for Political Accountability, which focuses on campaign finance transparency; voter outreach organizations such as Democracy Works and Voter Participation Center; and civil discourse groups like More in Common and Bridge USA.

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The commitment from business leaders to help sustain the political reform community has been encouraging as Leadership Now looks forward to channeling more funding and interest into assisting structural reform groups, Minahil Amin, the organization's director of investment, said.

"We already want more resources for these organizations because the space is so fragmented and there's such a huge need, but as a starting point, we're pretty happy with the energy we've gathered so far," Amin said.

Leadership Now, which not only helps channel funding but educates concerned business leaders about a broad range of political issues, encourages its members to think beyond just candidates and campaigns.

Members vow to commit at least half of their political spending on efforts to address structural issues rather than simply toward the horse race, for instance.

The idea is to create a reminder "that system changes are just as important as elections," Amin said.

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