What is a Giving Project?

Giving Projects are a unique, participatory model of funding that provides significant financial resources to grassroots organizing for long-term progressive social change. Giving Projects bring together a diverse group of people of varied class identities 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, energy, and resources over a period of six months. The basic Giving Project structure is:

  • A cross-class, multiracial group of 15-20 people commits to gathering for a series of workshops over the course of 6 months.
  • Through workshops, the group develops a shared understanding of racism, classism, and power in society and in the Giving Project.
  • Each person makes a meaningful financial gift — whatever that means for you.
  • Each person commits to fundraising from their friends, family and community move money to grassroots organizing through grants. Social Justice Fund’s staff will train you in grassroots fundraising and support you along the way.
  • Participants will be trained in Social Justice Fund’s democratic grantmaking process. 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 and setting personal & collective goals.
  2. Political education about racism, classism, Black liberation, and the grantmaking issue area for the Project.
  3. Grantmaking training about social justice philanthropy, SJF’s grantmaking criteria, and decision-making processes.
  4. Fundraising training focused on grassroots fundraising skills and learning how to make an ask.
  5. Ongoing fundraising with support from SJF staff and other Giving Project members.
  6. Reading and scoring grant applications.
  7. Screening meeting to decide, as a group, which applicants will get site visits.
  8. Site visits to meet with finalist organizations and learn about their work directly from them.
  9. Final decision meeting to review site visit reports and decide together which organizations will receive grants.
  10. 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 grantmaking criteria to select grantees. We fund grassroots community organizing led by the people most impacted by injustice and working for systemic change.

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 build leadership from within their own membership, base, or community
  • Work to understand and address the root causes of the issues, not just the symptoms
  • Bring people together to build power they wouldn’t have individually
  • Use that power to create systemic change, which includes altering unjust power relations
  • See themselves as part of a larger movement for social change, and works towards strengthening that movement

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?
  • People who are committed to Black liberation (even if you’re still figuring out what that looks like in practice)
  • People of any class identity, with or without access to wealth
  • People ready to fully commit to the entire Giving Project process
  • 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

Do apply to join a Giving Project if you…

  • Want to work as a collective to move money to powerful grassroots organizing in the Northwest
  • Want to learn how to ask people for money, even if it scares you
  • Want to build community with a group of people committed to hard conversations, taking responsibility for any harm caused, and growing together
  • Have the space to take on a challenging and transformative experience for the next 6 months
I’m interested, but my organization wants to apply for a grant. Can I still participate?

Yes! One of SJF’s core values is that leadership comes from the people most affected. We strive to incorporate that value not just in our grantmaking decisions, but in all our work. We want people involved with grantee organizations to be involved in Giving Projects, and use this process to inform and influence grantmaking. We have a simple conflict-of-interest policy to ensure that anyone closely involved with an applicant organization does not participate in decision-making for their own organization.

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

Frankly, most people don’t like asking for money. Most of us feel intensely uncomfortable and avoid doing it even in support of really important work! There are a lot of reasons for that, which your Giving Project will explore in workshops. We will help you learn how to ask for money effectively, and support each other through the fears. We will get clear about why we do it, and you will become a donor organizer capable of engaging with others in your life to move resources to movement work. We ask every Giving Project participant to challenge themselves, which will mean different things for different people. And you’ll have lots of support along the way!

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

With the arrival of the Covid pandemic in 2020 SJF moved to doing all Giving Projects online. That allowed us to include participants outside of Seattle and Portland. 

A big part of what makes these projects successful is the community building that happens in and out of our workshops. We can sometimes make accommodations for people who need to travel from farther distances. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you participate in a Giving Project.

Social Justice Fund is proud to collaborate with 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! Help get the word out.
  • Provide us with outreach opportunities. Can we speak to your organizing home, faith community, 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 Aisha, Donor Organizing 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, apply below. Looking for more information? Read the stories of Giving Project members and then apply below.

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

Apply to Join a Giving Project

Are you interested in applying to join a Giving Project? Awesome! Fill out this form to get started. APPLY HERE

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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Jose Vazquez

2018 Immigration Justice Giving Project
As an undocumented individual who received the opportunity to join the professional workforce thanks to DACA, I wanted to be part of the solution to address...
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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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Maxx Tomlinson

LGBTQ Giving Project twice, Gender Justice GP, Criminal Justice GP
I always wanted to figure out a way to be active in social justice issues and what my action would be. I am not the kind...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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