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

Sep 07, 2022 | by
  • Description

Almost one in two people on the planet still don't have access to the internet. 120 millionAmericans still live without broadband. As the pandemic moved many of life's essential services online, the steep human costs of this digital divide came into sharp focus.

With governments and economies rapidly digitizing, achieving digital equity — a state in which all individuals have the digital access, tools, and skills they need to operate in our digitizing society — is essential for civil society to deliver programs and achieve missions. Ensuring everyone has fast, reliable, affordable internet access is fundamental to progress on the causes we care most about — from education and economic development, to health and civic participation — within the communities we most care about.

With digitalization so profoundly impacting the issues funders invest in, philanthropy must build an understanding of how the digital divide impacts its work and develop strategies to tackle it. To that end, this brief seeks to understand the extent to which philanthropy has invested in digital equity. As you'll see, the results suggest that the volume of grants awarded up to 2020 falls far short of what is needed. There is a huge opportunity for philanthropy to get involved in the digital equity space and make a significant impact.