Funding to bridge the digital divide:
U.S. philanthropic giving to digital equity causes

Almost one in two people on the planet still lack access to the internet. 120 million Americans live without internet access at broadband speeds. As the pandemic moved many of life’s essential services online, the steep human costs of this digital divide came into sharp focus.

In a rapidly digitalizing society, ensuring that everyone can access reliable broadband is fundamental to progress on the causes that the philanthropy community cares most about — from health and human rights to children’s education and civic participation — within the communities civil society works to serve.

Measuring philanthropic giving to digital equity causes

This brief uses data and analysis from Candid to measure philanthropic giving to digital equity causes. It charts the fluctuation of grant funding awarded by large US foundations over the past decade, and explores further questions about giving between 2018-2020, including where funding was directed, the type of work it supported, and the population groups specifically targeted.

Findings include:

  • Just 0.05% of overall giving from large US foundations between 2010-2019 went to efforts to close the digital divide.
  • Giving towards digital equity has remained largely stagnant over the past decade.
  • Between 2018-2020, the top 10 digital equity funders contributed half of all dollars given.
  • As a cause, climate change receives nearly 10 times as many grants as the digital divide.
  • Among grants that specified a population served, economically disadvantaged people and youth/children were most often listed.

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