As the philanthropic community grapples with the question of how to support innovative and effective forms of democratic governance, PACE (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement) has released a guide that provides a detailed description of how local civic engagement has grown and developed over the past decade.

Funding and Fostering Local Democracy: What Philanthropy Should Know about the Emerging Field of Deliberation and Democratic Governance” is a free, downloadable PDF publication designed to inform the field of philanthropy. The strategies described in the guide-and the stories of how communities have used them to break policy deadlock, reduce tension and galvanize volunteerism-can help funders, public officials and community activists better understand the possibilities, and limitations, of various approaches to working with the public.

“As more and more foundations are making civic engagement a part of their funding priorities, they are also being presented with a whole new set of approaches and tools for engaging citizens at the local level,” says Chris Gates, the Executive Director of PACE, ‘This guide is an attempt to demystify the emerging field of deliberative democracy and help funders make more informed decisions about their support of this growing field.”

“Perhaps the most significant-and overlooked-recent development in the health of local democracy is the shift in citizen expectations, capacities and attitudes toward government,” argues Matt Leighninger, the director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium and the author of this guide. “This guide illustrates how this shift is affecting public officials, foundations and nonprofit organizations, and how it has provoked a new generation of efforts to make local politics and local governance more participatory, deliberative and productive.”

The guide provides a list of some of the main organizations working in this field, describes some of the most influential models and processes, and provides examples of particularly significant democratic governance efforts. It also outlines some of the cutting-edge questions facing the field and provides a long list of resources to consult.

PACE is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations, founded in 2005 to bring new philanthropic focus to the issues of civic engagement and democratic renewal.

For more information contact Chris Gates, Executive Director of PACE, at cgates@pacefunders.org or the author of the guide, Matt Leighninger, at mattleighninger@earthlink.net