About Giving Projects
An innovative new model of funding social change, community building, and leadership development.
A Giving Project is a group of about 20 people who commit to:
- Working together to move money to strategic, underfunded organizing for social change in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
- Building community together, across race and class.
- Grassroots fundraising with training and hands-on support from Social Justice Fund staff.
- A full grantmaking process, including site visits and final granting decisions.
In 2015, 192 people raised over $800,000 and made 55 grants to inspiring community organizations. (Read what Giving Project alumni say about their experience.) With your help, in 2016, we'll accomplish even more.
Who can join a Giving Project?
Anyone. You do not have to be a member of Social Justice Fund. You do not have to know anything about non-profits, philanthropy, or the giving focus of the project. You could have wealth, you could be low-income – it doesn’t matter. There is no minimum (or maximum) amount you have to donate or raise.
You do make the following commitments:
- Show up honestly and engage in the process.
- Make a personal financial contribution to the project.
- Fundraise from friends, family, and community.
- Experiment and evaluate.
How do I join?
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do Giving Projects work?
- What organizations are funded by Giving Projects?
- Who can participate?
- I’m interested, but my organization will apply for a Giving Project grant. Can I still participate?
- I’m interested, but I hate asking for money.
- I'm not in the Seattle area. Can I still participate in a Seattle-based Giving Project?
- I’m interested, but I just can’t participate this time. How can I support?
- A Giving Project is a process. Each one requires about eight meetings, spread out over five to seven months.
- All Giving Projects will follow roughly the same process:
- Community building, including personal storytelling, setting goals.
- Workshop, delving deeply into issues of class and race.
- Political education related to the giving focus of the project.
- Grantmaking training regarding social justice philanthropy, SJF’s tried and true process for scoring applications, and this group’s grantmaking criteria.
- Fundraising training regarding fundraising skills, workplanning and goal-setting.
- Ongoing fundraising, supported by staff and other Giving Project members.
- Reading and scoring grant applications.
- Screening meeting to decide, as a group, which get applicant organizations site visits.
- Site visits of the finalist applicant organizations to learn about the work they’re doing on the ground.
- Final decision meeting to review site visit reports, discuss the final decisions, and finally decide on the grants.
- Celebrate our successes and evaluate the process so the next giving project will be even better.
Giving Projects use the same granting criteria that SJF has used for years. On top of that, a particular Giving Project may add additional criteria (e.g. the Civic Action Giving Project will fund only civic action-related work, as defined by the Giving Project participants themselves). This will be clearly laid out in the Request for Proposals.
Unless otherwise specified, all Giving Projects fund organizations throughout SJF’s region: Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.
To apply for a Giving Project grant, please refer to our Grantee page.
- Anyone. (Except that, obviously, you must share the identity of any identity-based group, e.g. the LGBTQ Giving Project is for LGBTQ-identified people only.)
- You could have wealth, you could be low-income – it doesn’t matter.
- You do not have to be an SJF Member.
- You do not have to know anything about non-profits, philanthropy, or the giving focus of the project.
- You do not have to donate any particular amount of money; there is no minimum (or maximum) amount.
- You do commit to the entire Giving Project process.
Yes! One of SJF’s core values is that leadership should come from the people most affected. We strive to incorporate that value not just in our grantmaking decisions, but in all our work. Therefore we want people involved with grantee organizations to be involved in Giving Projects and use this process to inform and influence grantmaking in their field. We use our longstanding conflict-of-interest policy to ensure that anyone closely involved with an applicant organization does not participate in the discussion or scoring of that organization’s application.
Frankly, most people do. Most of us feel intensely uncomfortable asking for money; there are a lot of reasons for that, which every Giving Project group will explore in its fundraising training. We will not only help you learn how to ask for money effectively, but to feel good about it, knowing you are engaging in powerful action for social change. It’s not just about fundraising; Giving Project participants become donor organizers – leveraging their own donations to bring in the donations of others and help build power for those working for long-term social change. We just ask every participant in every Giving Project to challenge themselves, which will mean different things for different people. This could be a great way for you to meet the challenge of donor organizing.
If you're in Montana or Portland, check out the Giving Projects in your area. Otherwise, please contact us to discuss how we can help you participate in a Giving Project. A big part of what makes these projects successful is the community building that happens from in-person meetings. That said, we would like to explore how combinations of technology and travel can facilitate participation from people all over our region, so let's talk.
We’re also very interested in organizing more Giving Projects outside Seattle. If you’d be interested in working with us to create a Giving Project in your community, please contact Yasmeen Perez.
- Tell others about the SJF Giving Projects! We need your help to get the word out.
- Provide us with outreach opportunities. Can we speak to your church, professional association, student group, etc? Please let us know.
- Donate. In order to make Giving Projects work, we need financial support from people who love the idea and the work but can’t be involved themselves. You can choose to donate to any of our active Giving Projects or to the SJF general fund.
- Join a site visit. We always encourage our members to join site visits – this is a great way to learn about the powerful work your membership is helping to fund, and meet the inspiring people who make it happen. Your report from the site visit will be an important component of our grantmaking process. If you are a member or former Giving Project participant and would like to join a site visit, contact Yasmeen Perez. Learn about membership here.
If you have any questions or are interested in participating in any of these opportunities, please contact our Program Director Yasmeen Perez yasmeen(at)socialjusticefund.org, (206) 624-4081 for more information.