The Giving Project
The Giving Project at Maine Initiatives
It’s not often that we in Maine have the opportunity to be in deep relationships with grassroots organizing nationally. Maine Initiatives has joined a collaboration of eight other progressive funders across the country who learn and share knowledge and who each run Giving Projects that resource movements locally.
The Giving Project at Maine Initiatives is a community-driven, donor organizing model that moves significant dollars to build Maine’s grassroots organizing infrastructure, which is still in the early stages of building power for structural social change.
The goal of our Giving Projects is to resource mutual aid and grassroots organizing groups. This, in turn, builds power and leverages structural changes that counter racial capitalism. Here is a short video about how the Giving Project moves money to movements.
We need volunteers like you to make this happen. Join a group of local people who are deeply driven to address the harm of racial capitalism as it relates to traditional philanthropy and simultaneously shape a vision towards equity, justice, and a hopeful future for all of us.
Reasons to join a Giving Project:
- Participate in a professional development and networking opportunity for burgeoning non-profit professionals.
- Learn about or expand knowledge of grantmaking processes.
- Develop and improve networking and donor organizing skills.
- Build a sense of belonging in a mixed race and class setting with people moving from their commitments.
- Deepen understanding of race, class, and community organizing in a facilitated peer-learning setting.
- Participate in and practice collaborative decision-making.
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 20 individuals commits to gathering up to 10 times over the course of six 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. Our staff will train you in grassroots fundraising and provide plenty of support.
- Each member is trained in Maine Initiatives’ democratic grantmaking process. As a participant, you will read and score proposals, participate in interviews, make collective decisions, and grant money to some of the most inspiring, effective social change groups in Wabanaki Territory (Maine).
What is the Giving Project Process?
- Community building, including personal storytelling and setting goals.
- Workshop, delving deeply into issues of class and race.
- Political education related to the giving focus of the project.
- Grantmaking training regarding social justice philanthropy, process for scoring applications, and Maine Initiatives’ grantmaking criteria.
- Fundraising training regarding grassroots fundraising skills and learning how to make an ask.
- Ongoing fundraising with support from Maine Initiatives staff and other Giving Project members.
- Reading and scoring grant applications.
- Screening meeting to decide, as a group, which applicant organizations will get site visits.
- Group interviews to meet with finalist organizations and learn about their work directly from them.
- Final decision meeting to review site visit reports, discuss the final decisions, and decide together which organizations will receive grants.
- Celebrate our successes and evaluate the process so the next giving project will be even better.
Who Can Participate?
- You could have wealth, you could be low-income – it doesn’t matter.
- You do not have to know anything about non-profits, philanthropy, fundraising, or the issue 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. Maine Initiatives can support you through childcare and other stipends based on any limitations or barriers you might have to full participation.
Apply to join a Giving Project if you…
- Want to make a difference about issues of injustice in Maine.
- 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 six (6)months.
I’m ready to learn more and apply to join the Giving Project!
Q: What is the time commitment of a Giving Project?
A: The Giving Project is an intensive six (6) month experience. Members from partner projects have reported that participating in the Giving Project takes an average of five (5) hours per week over the six (6) months.
Before you commit to a Giving Project, you will be given a list of all dates and asked to commit to attending as many as possible.
Q: Is there a specific amount I am required to raise?
A: We ask that every member make a “personally meaningful” individual financial contribution, but there is no minimum amount. A key part of the Giving Project is recognizing that individuals come from different socioeconomic and class backgrounds. Therefore, there is not a set amount you are required to raise. Instead, we work with you to determine what is a reasonable amount for you.
Q: I’ve never done fundraising before.
Is the Giving Project right for me?
A: Yes! Over 40% of our Giving Project members have never engaged in one-on-one fundraising before. 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.
We provide intensive fundraising training as well as an assigned fundraising coach from Maine Initiatives staff who can help strategize, troubleshoot, and provide encouragement throughout the process.
Q: I’m interested but I can’t participate at this time.
How can I support the Giving Project?
- Tell others about the Giving Projects at Maine Initiatives. We need your help to get the word out!
- Donate. You can donate to the Giving Project here.
- Join our email list to stay updated on Giving Projects and Maine Initiatives’ other work.