What is a Giving Project?

Giving Projects are a unique, participatory model of funding which provides significant financial resources to organizations that work towards long-term progressive social change. Giving Projects bring together a diverse group of people at all income levels who are passionate about social change and want to strengthen their skills in fundraising, grantmaking, and community building. Participants work together to deepen their understanding of social justice principles and engage in collective giving and fundraising to support grassroots organizations.

How do Giving Projects work?

The Giving Project is a process. It requires a commitment of your time, talent, and resources over a period of six months. The basic Giving Project structure is:

  • A cross-class, multiracial group of up to 25 individuals commits to gathering 9 times over the course of 6 months.
  • Through workshops and trainings, the group develops a shared understanding of race, class, and power within society.
  • Each person makes a meaningful financial gift — whatever that means for you.
  • Each person commits to fundraising from their friends, family and community to support the financial goal of the group. Social Justice Fund’s staff will train you in grassroots fundraising and provide plenty of support.
  • Each member is trained in Social Justice Fund’s democratic grantmaking process. As a participant, you will read and score proposals, participate in site visits, make collective decisions, and grant money to some of the most inspiring, effective social change work in the Northwest.

All Giving Projects will follow roughly the same process:

  1. Community building, including personal storytelling, setting goals.
  2. Workshop, delving deeply into issues of class and race.
  3. Political education related to the giving focus of the project.
  4. Grantmaking training regarding social justice philanthropy, SJF’s tried and true process for scoring applications, and SJF’s grantmaking criteria.
  5. Fundraising training regarding grassroots fundraising skills and learning how to make an ask.
  6. Ongoing fundraising with support from SJF staff and other Giving Project members.
  7. Reading and scoring grant applications.
  8. Screening meeting to decide, as a group, which applicant organizations will get site visits.
  9. Site visits to meet with finalist organizations and learn about their work directly from them.
  10. Final decision meeting to review site visit reports, discuss the final decisions, and decide together which organizations will receive grants.
  11. Celebrate our successes and evaluate the process so the next giving project will be even better.
What organizations are funded by Giving Projects?

The Giving Project participants will use Social Justice Fund’s longstanding granting criteria to select grantees. We are committed to funding organizational efforts that use a community organizing approach to change systems of injustice.

More specifically, we give grants to groups that are:

  • Led by the people most directly affected by the issues the organization is working on
  • Continually builds leadership from within its own membership, base, or community
  • Works to understand and address the root causes of the issues, not just the symptoms
  • Brings people together to build power they wouldn’t have individually
  • Uses that power to create systemic change, which includes altering unjust power relations
  • Sees itself as part of a larger movement for social change, and works towards strengthening that movement

Unless otherwise specified, all Giving Projects fund organizations throughout SJF’s funding region: Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

To learn more about apply for a Giving Project grant, please refer to our Grantee page.

Who can participate in a Giving Project?
  • Anyone!
  • You could have wealth, you could be low-income – it doesn’t matter.
  • You do not have to be an SJF Member prior to joining a Giving Project
  • You do not have to know anything about non-profits, philanthropy, fundraising 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.

You should join a Giving Project if you…

  • Want to make a difference about issues of injustice in the Northwest.
  • Want to learn how to fundraise, make grants, and expand your network.
  • Are passionate about building community across race and class lines.
  • Are ready to take on a challenging and transformative experience for the next 6 months.
I’m interested, but my organization will apply for a grant. Can I still participate?

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.

I’m interested, but I hate asking for money. What should I do?

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.

I’m not in the Seattle or Portland area. Can I still participate in a Giving Project?

Currently, SJF only offers Giving Projects in Seattle and Portland. A big part of what makes these projects successful is the community building that happens from our in-person meetings. That said, we do and can make accommodations for folks who need to travel from farther distances, including occasional remote participation. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you participate in a Giving Project.

Social Justice Fund is proud to collaborate with 5 other community foundations and justice funders in the national development of the Giving Project model. The following funds offer Giving Projects in their respective cities:

I’m interested, but I just can’t participate this time. How can I support?
  • Tell others about SJF’s 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 annual fund.
  • Get involved by attending upcoming events and activities

For more information on how to get connected to SJF’s upcoming events and activities contact Mano da Silva, SJF Donor Relations Manager.


How to Participate

If you’re interested in being a part of this innovative new model of funding social change, community building, and leadership development, sign up below. Looking for more information? Read the stories of Giving Project members and then sign up below.

If you are interested in applying for funding, please visit our grantee information page.

Sign Up for a Giving Project

Are you interested in signing up for a Giving Project? Awesome! Fill out this form to get started. SIGN UP

Meet Some Giving Project Members

Want to meet some Giving Project members? Read their stories. READ MORE

SJF and Movement Building

Learn more about how participating in a Giving Project creates change and supports movement building. READ MORE

Meet Our Giving Project Members

Jasmine Fleenor

Gender Justice Giving Project
I am so amazed at how much I learned during this process. One of my main takeaways from this project is the importance of a broad,...
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Jimmy Pasch

2015 Environmental Justice Giving Project
October 13, 2015 My name is Jimmy Pasch, and I am a part of this year’s Environmental Justice Giving Project. Six months ago, I joined this...
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Sanne Stienstra

Portland Economic Justice Giving Project
Social Justice Fund NW provided me with an opportunity, as a white cisgendered person, to play a role in the movement that felt appropriate and fulfilling...
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Andrew Johnston

2015 Spring Momentum Giving Project
Asking people to support this work required that I be vulnerable, and sometimes voice strong opinions that might differ from the opinions of my family, friends,...
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Saara Ahmed

2015 Gender Justice Giving Project
One of the most important things I learned about gender justice work is that we need both organizations with proven strategies AND organizations coming up with...
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Mike Beebe

Native-led Giving Project
This Giving Project is my third (Environmental Justice in 2011/Movement Building Giving Project in 2015) and each time I find them highly educational, rewarding, and inspiring....
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Tracy Gagnon

Economic Justice Giving Project 2017-2018
Joining a Giving Project was a way for me to take action after the haze of the election. I wanted to be a part of the...
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Emiko Badillo

Giving Projects in Portland in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
We as individuals are so powerful. An action makes such a huge impact when we are working together with other dedicated individuals.
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Lilliane Ballesteros

Intergenerational Giving Project
I signed up for a Giving Project because I wanted to learn more about who was leading change in our communities in the Pacific Northwest. I...
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Vinnie Tran

Economic Justice Giving Project 2017-2018
I learned about the Social Justice NW Fund through a random search online and was intrigued by the organization’s social justice lens to philanthropy. I joined...
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Margaret Weihs

2015 Next Generation Giving Project
In addition to expanding my personal analysis of race and class, the giving project positively challenged my understanding of how social change happens. I came into...
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Carol Brown

Intergenerational Giving Project
SJF’s focus is on organizations led by and communities most affected systemic racism, organizations addressing the root causes of oppression and racism, and organizations that are...
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Chieko Phillips

2018 Immigration Justice Giving Project
An interview with Chieko Phillips, Immigration Justice Giving Project member. Why did you sign up for a Giving Project?  Immigration has never been “my issue” and...
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Callie Lambarth

Economic Justice Giving Project 2017-2018
The entire Giving Project process was an incredibly powerful experience. One of the most meaningful takeaways for me was being able to engage with the discomfort...
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