We live in a world where we must continue to fight for fair and just societies.
Look beyond the headlines and the past decade has delivered significant social progress. Global poverty levels are down and life expectancy is up. Hate crimes have fallen while progressive attitudes to equality are increasingly prevalent.
However, the last few years have seen a profound shift in the political environment. In countries around the world we are seeing a common set of challenges emerge.
Trust in experts, institutions, and the media has been eroded. The spread of misinformation and the devaluation of truth have created echo chambers that are entrenching views and polarising communities. Populist politicians are exploiting this, leading to a rise in authoritarian governments and the greater prevalence of insular, nationalist perspectives.
Civic space is also under attack, both on and offline, with freedoms of expression, assembly, and privacy being withdrawn. In parallel, the potential downsides of rapid advances in technology, especially those related to data use and artificial intelligence, are becoming clearer and more acute. Those with power are increasingly misusing technology and data to maintain and enhance their positions in society.
It is against this global backdrop that Luminate operates.
How we make a difference
Established in 2018, Luminate is a global philanthropic organisation with the goal of empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies.
We do this by funding and supporting non-profit and for-profit organisations and advocating for policies and actions that will help people participate in and shape the issues affecting their lives, and make those in power more transparent, responsive, and accountable.
We prioritise delivering impact in four connected areas that underpin strong societies: Civic Empowerment, Data & Digital Rights, Financial Transparency, and Independent Media.
Across all these areas, our strategy is long term yet responsive. This allows us to focus on supporting those driving sustainable solutions to deeply entrenched issues – while remaining flexible enough to react quickly to evolving challenges.
Luminate builds on a portfolio and wealth of expertise built up over a decade as the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network. Established by Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, we remain part of The Omidyar Group.
To date, Luminate’s global work has supported 236 organisations, in 18 countries with over $314 million in funding.
Omidyar Network is established by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay.
The first Omidyar Network grant towards greater government transparency and accountability is made to the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit with the goal of increasing transparency and accountability in US local and state governments.
The Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network is founded to strengthen the relationship between the public and governments. The approach draws on the principles of openness and participation and favours solutions that leverage technology. It funds organisations and businesses that provide people with the information and tools they need to ensure their interests are represented – and to hold their leaders to account.
The Open Government Partnership is founded with funding and support from the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative and other donors. By 2018, 79 countries and 20 local governments will have made 3,330 national commitments to openness and transparency of government – positively impacting the lives of 2.5 billion people around the world.
The Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative starts its work in Latin America and South East Asia, and makes its first investments in Civic Technology in the US.
The G8 features ‘Tax, Trade, and Transparency’ as its theme and agrees new policies on company ownership transparency.
The Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative refocuses its efforts onto tackling the root causes of the global trust deficit and develops its work in Independent Media. A $100 million commitment is made to strengthen investigative journalism and independent media, tackling misinformation and hate speech, and enabling citizens to engage with governments.
The Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network becomes Luminate, an independent philanthropic organisation with the goal of empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies.