The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.
Since its founding in 1983, NDI has worked with local partners in 132 countries and territories, bringing together individuals and groups to share ideas, knowledge, experiences and expertise. Partners receive broad exposure to best practices in international democratic development that can be adapted to the needs of their own countries. NDI’s multinational approach reinforces the message that while there is no single democratic model, certain core principles are shared by all democracies.
The Institute’s work upholds the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also promotes the development of institutionalized channels of communications among citizens, political institutions and elected officials, and strengthens their ability to improve the quality of life for all citizens.
The Work of the Institute
Making democracy work requires informed and active citizens who understand how to voice their interests, act collectively and hold public officials accountable. Through the years the Institute has worked with more than 13,000 civic groups. NDI’s civic programs — including civic and voter education, get out the vote efforts, issue organizing and advocacy, budget oversight and government monitoring — help citizens engage actively in the political process and serve as a link between citizens and elected officials.
The Institute partners with politically marginalized and socially excluded groups, such as Roma in Eastern Europe and indigenous people in Latin America, helping them build awareness and influence around their priorities. In this way, the Institute helps give a voice to citizens who traditionally have no access to government decision-making.
Democracy and Technology
The Internet, mobile phones and social media are helping citizens engage in politics in increasingly innovative and participatory ways. NDI has been a pioneer in the use of technology as an integral component of democratic development. The Institute has helped citizens create and refine tools to advocate, organize and mobilize in ways that encourage governments to be more accountable and create opportunities for citizen-led social and political change. The Institute also works with governments to find better technological solutions for constituent services, bill tracking and outreach, as well as with political parties on technological tools for outreach, targeting, fundraising and resource allocation.
NDI works with legislatures around the world to support lawmakers and staff in strengthening committees, legislative oversight, rules of procedure, public access to information, caucuses and constituency outreach. The Institute helps government ministries and the offices of prime ministers and presidents to function more efficiently, improve public outreach and be more responsive to the public at large. NDI also supports the efforts of provincial councils and local governments to respond more effectively to citizen needs. The Institute is a partner with the World Bank Institute, the United Nations Development Programme and International IDEA in Agora, a global knowledge portal on parliamentary strengthening.