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Announcing a special grant opportunity: The Fund 4 the Frontlines Base Building Grant.

These grants of $250,000 ($50,000 a year for 5 years) will support base building strategies across our region. The first round of 3-6 grants will be made in May 2020; please read this information carefully as it is quite different from our usual grantmaking process, including a nomination requirement.

For more information about this grant opportunity, contact Grantmaking Director Magan Do at magan[at] / (206) 624-4081 x107.

What We Will Fund

We understand Base building as a community organizing tactic that grows the breadth and depth of people who share a vision for social justice, and who develop and execute the organizing strategies to make that vision a reality. 

With strong base building organizations as part of our ecosystem, our movements have more leadership and more power to change policies, transform culture, and build new models and institutions – and to defend and maintain those victories over time. 

Because there is no one definition of base building, we interviewed community organizers across the region and country to determine the markers of good base building strategies.  We asked them to pinpoint what made base building different from other community organizing, share examples of good base building, and explore potential regional, cultural, and constituent differences we may encounter. Through this process, we determined the following parameters for the Fund 4 the Frontlines Base Building Grant.

We are looking for organizations that fit our community organizing framework AND are doing the following work:

  • Collective Power
    • Working with a diverse membership to build collective power.
    • Building a critical mass of collective power that can win changes in policy, culture, or institution-building, and defend those wins.
  • Widening the Base
    • Building authentic relationships with those in the base who are most affected by the issues the organization works on.
    • Bringing new people into the base who are not already engaged in organizing work.
    • Using varied methods of recruitment by uplifting differences through tailored communication and outreach. 
    • Engaging in face-to-face conversation and relationship building.
  • Leadership Development
    • Provide clear entry points for members to move to leadership positions.
    • Clear and accessible programs for political education and meaningful engagement.
    • Continual education and agitation.
  • Strategy and Long-Term Planning
    • Developing, using, and continually adapting a base building plan which includes goals, timelines, infrastructure, leadership, opportunities for engagement, etc.
    • Organizing strategies with clear goals [need more here]
    • Structures that hold the leadership accountable to its base.

Grantmaking Process

Organizations must be nominated for this opportunity. See nomination information below.

Who is eligible for this grant (organizations must meet all criteria outlined below):

  • Nonprofit organizations or tribal agencies, or groups sponsored by a nonprofit organization or tribal agency.
    • This grant can fund:
      • organizations with 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status as determined by the IRS,
      • federally recognized American Indian tribal government or agency
      • organizations that are fiscally sponsored by 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 organizations or by federally recognized tribal governments
    • Unlike our other grants, this grant will not fund organizations which are neither incorporated nor fiscally sponsored. 
  • Organizations that use community organizing as their primary strategy and do base building as described in the above section. 
  • Organizations that are led by people who are most directly affected by the problems that the organization or project is addressing.
  • Organizations that carry out most of their work in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and/or Wyoming.
  • Organizations that have been funded by a Social Justice Fund Giving Project in the past.

Who can nominate an organization and how:

  • Staff and board of any current or former grantee of SJF/ATR can nominate an organization that has been funded by a Giving Project, including their own organization
    • Yes, you can nominate your own organization!
  • Please fill out this form.  (Deadline has passed) The nominator writes a few sentences about why they think the nominee is doing base building.
  • All nominations must be received by Wednesday, January 29 at 3pm PT.

Grantmaking timeline:

  • January 29, 3pm PT — Nomination deadline.
  • Week of February 3 — Eligible nominees are notified and invited to apply.
  • February 27, 3pm PT — Application deadline.
  • Week of March 16 — Grantmaking committee selects finalists; finalists are notified.
  • March 28 to April 29 — Finalists receive site visits.
  • Week of May 4 — Grant awards are announced.

Grantees will be asked to attend an event in Seattle on Sunday, May 17 if possible.

After this initial round of grants we will ask for feedback, evaluate what we learned from the process, make any needed changes, and plan on a second round of Fund 4 the Frontline Base Building grants in 2021.

About the Fund 4 the Frontlines Campaign

In anticipation of our 40th anniversary, Social Justice Fund NW launched the initial phase of an ambitious major gifts campaign called Fund 4 the Frontlines. The goal was to raise $4 million over 3 years, to elevate our region to a new level of base building, through both donor organizing and grantmaking, for the long-term strength and resilience of social justice movements in the Northwest.  

In developing the plan for this campaign, we knew our grantees were already on the frontlines, fighting back against the emboldened far right, confronting racism and police violence, developing community solutions to climate change, supporting human rights for immigrants, and more. We see everyday that our grantees do so much with so little, and can do much more if we step up together. We recognized we had an opportunity to do that in a bigger way. We knew we wanted to make larger and longer-term investments than we’ve ever done before, so we decided that at least half of the funds raised would go directly into grantmaking. From listening to our grantees and from our own vantage point as a regional funder, we learned that our grantees already do incredible organizing but often lack the resources and capacity for base building. We hope that these $250,000 grants, specifically for base building strategies, will transform not just the organizations who receive them but the movement ecosystems around them. The rest of the funds from this campaign will be invested in Social Justice Fund’s internal capacity building efforts, to ensure that we build a base of donor organizers to fund our movements for the long haul. 

As of January 2020, we’ve made enough progress toward our campaign goal that we’re ready to proceed with the first phase of grantmaking! In Spring 2020 we’ll launch the public phase of the campaign, inviting everyone to join us in reaching the finish line by the end of the year, and securing full funding for the second round of Base Building grants in 2021. 


For more information about this grant opportunity, contact Grantmaking Director Magan Do at magan[at] / (206) 624-4081 x107.