News Release: Knight Foundation invests $3 million in Democracy Works

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a new $3 million investment in Democracy Works, the creator of TurboVote and digital tools that distribute voter and election information throughout the United States. Knight Foundation’s investment in the nonpartisan organization seeks to bolster civic participation in the digital age by making the voting experience easy and accessible.

Democracy Works develops tools for voters, gathers data for elections, and builds technology for election officials. In 2018, more than 6 million subscribers of TurboVote received election information and reminders, tens of millions of individuals used the platform’s data to find a polling location, and states across the country registered more than 125,000 polling places to the platform. 

The organization will use Knight’s new support to jump-start a $20 million fundraising round aimed at transforming the American voter experience during the 2020 election cycle. This new round of funding will support the large-scale growth of the organization’s innovative registration and information platform, with the ultimate goal of increasing voter participation around the country.

“The backing of Knight Foundation sets Democracy Works up to raise a new round of support that stands to dramatically impact turnout in the 2020 election and beyond,” said Seth Flaxman, Democracy Works chief executive officer. “This investment is about improving the health of our democracy — it will help us reach millions of new users, turn the internet into an onramp for voting, and modernize the voting experience throughout the country.”

TurboVote, the banner platform of Democracy Works, aims to simplify the voting experience by streamlining the process for users to register to vote, request absentee ballots, and find polling locations. The platform also sends registered users reminders for every local, state-wide, and national races. In addition, the organization captures comprehensive election data used widely on platforms like Google and Facebook and makes this data easily accessible to individual citizens seeking to make an informed choice at the ballot box. Democracy Works also works with election officials to build new tools to better serve their constituents.

“In today’s age, participating in our democracy should be as easy as shopping online or hailing a rideshare,” said Sam Gill, Knight Foundation vice president for communities and impact. “Democracy Works has brought us closer to that vision, and the coming election is a huge opportunity to make it easier for people to get informed and participate.” 

Since 2012, Knight Foundation has invested a total of $5.15 million in Democracy Works and its technologies. To date, the organization has raised $34 million in philanthropic funding, with $13 million as a part of its 2020 Impact Round.