Developing leaders and fueling the movement for change

Founded in 1978, Social Justice Fund NW (originally called A Territory Resource or ATR) is a grantmaking organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of social, economic, and environmental inequities.  In 2005, the organization’s name was changed from A Territory Resource to Social Justice Fund NW. (Watch our 40th Anniversary video to learn more about the history)

As an organization interested in social justice and promoting social change, Social Justice Fund NW has funded a wide range of activist organizations working in communities of color. And Social Justice Fund NW has always believed it is important to reflect the diversity of our society in our own organization, including people of different races, nationalities, genders, ages, and sexual orientation. In the 1990’s, Social Justice Fund NW made major strides to become an actively anti-racist and inclusive organization.

In 1997, the Board of Directors of Social Justice Fund NW decided to open membership in the foundation to people with a much broader range of incomes, and thus give Social Justice Fund NW a stronger democratic orientation and allow it to grow into a truly community-based foundation. The minimum contribution to join was first lowered to either $1,000 or one percent of their annual income and then, in 2003, to $240.

As a result, membership soared, bringing an increase in members, more volunteerism, and greater diversity and representation from the communities that Social Justice Fund NW serves, both in the membership and the Board of Directors.

Donor Organizing

Social Justice Fund embarked on the next step of democratizing philanthropy in 2010, with the first Next Generation Giving Project, a partnership with Resource Generation and our pilot Giving Project. NGGP was a huge success. We realized that through the Giving Project model we could not only make philanthropy accessible to an even broader range of people, we could also make it more sustainable and accountable through donor organizing. In 2011, we made Giving Projects our sole model for grantmaking. Through this model, 73 volunteers in 5 Giving Projects raised more than $300,000 from 479 donors, making 30 grants across 5 states.

Giving Project Learning Community

At their core, Giving Projects are about raising and distributing resources. Between 2010 and 2017, 54 projects have raised an average of about $100k each from a total of 8,000 donors. The vast majority of these donors were not previously giving to social justice issues. Many were not engaged philanthropically at all. Giving Projects have been especially successful at reaching traditionally underrepresented communities, including young people (about 75% of participants are under 35) and people of color (about 50% of participants), as well as people with wealth. Regardless of their background, most participants make their largest gift ever through the process.

In addition to these fundraising outcomes, the Giving Project process engages people in transformative leadership development. Over 1,000 people have participated so far. We train with a social and racial justice framework through which participants come to view their volunteer and philanthropic activities. We provide training and coaching on fundraising, grantmaking, and grassroots organizing. All together, this has resulted in participants joining boards, launching independent fundraising campaigns, and getting directly involved with grassroots social justice organizations.

  • A Giving Project engages about 20 people over a 6-month period in the following activities:
  • Community building and personal storytelling
  • Political education and personal reflection on race and class identity
  • Learning directly from grassroots social justice organizations
  • Personal giving (no minimum or maximum contribution)
  • Grassroots fundraising, including training and personal support
  • Training in social justice philanthropy, principles of funding community organizing, and systems change
  • Democratic grantmaking including reviewing applications and site visits
  • Celebration and evaluation

Learn more about the Giving Project model and other projects around the country.

SJF History Timeline