A structure for donor organizing, leadership development, and social justice philanthropy

The Giving Project Model

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



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What makes this model different?

  • Unlike many giving circles, there is not minimum contribution. People from all class backgrounds current experiences are encouraged to participate

  • We prioritize racial justice in our recruitment, programming, and grantmaking

  • We use a "donor organizing" approach to fundraising. Depth of conversation and relationship building are more important than getting lots of donations

  • All grants go to organizations led by the communities they are working with and that use advocacy and community organizing as primary strategies

Social Justice Fund Giving Project Participant

"Participating in the Giving Project helped me relate with money, myself and my family in a new way.  Through the race-class analysis workshop and individual conversations within the project, I began to unravel the stories, fears and conflicts I had experienced regarding money.  I let go of the value judgments I placed on my access to money, and saw my class background in a larger context of historical events and cultural and social norms.  This enabled me to have more authentic conversations with both friends and family, as well as to step forward and use my resources in a way I feel good about—for  healing and social change."

©2017 by Giving Project Learning Community