In 2011 and 2012, more than 600 community members participated in an intensive visioning process to map out how Bread & Roses should continue meeting the needs of movements for change in the Philadelphia region. The biggest takeaway? More grants and bigger grants are needed to build stronger movements. Inspired by a model pioneered by Social Justice Fund Northwest, Bread & Roses is launching a new collective fundraising and giving model, Giving Projects, to increase the number and size of grants to grassroots groups making change.
“This is a way for Bread & Roses to really separate itself and do something creative and new,” says DJ Thornton, who joined Bread & Roses’ board of directors this summer after serving on the Community Grantmaking Committee. “Giving Projects fit the Bread & Roses model of being innovative, grassroots, and inclusive.”
The Giving Project model recalls Bread & Roses’ founding days, when every member was a donor and played a role in deciding which groups received grants. Giving Projects are likewise democratic, transparent, and accountable to movements — through a one-time, intensive commitment.
Sarah Burgess, a Bread & Roses donor and Resource Generation Philadelphia member, is happy to see Giving Projects launch at Bread & Roses. “I feel like there’s a huge potential for Giving Projects to transform the way we think about traditional philanthropy, which concentrates power with people who already have a lot of power,” she says. “This model is not just about the redistribution of money, but about the redistribution of power too.”
Twenty people will participate in the Giving Project pilot in 2016. Over the course of six months, the cross-class, multiracial, intergenerational cohort will receive intensive training on race, class, fundraising, and grantmaking. Each module will push participants forward in their personal work and healing about race and class, and the political education will deepen participants’ understanding of local history and context. Bread & Roses provides one-on-one support in fundraising for participants, who commit to making a meaningful gift and raising money from their networks and then take their new skills to the movements and causes they care about. Funds raised will be distributed as grants by the participants.
Becky Jones, a member of Resource Generation Philly Chapter, will participate in the 2016 pilot Giving Project. “The Giving Projects take giving beyond just writing a check,” she explains. “Everyone is challenged to give in ways that are meaningful to them.”
Jennifer Jordan, who served two years on the Community Grantmaking Committee and joined the board of directors this summer, sees the Giving Projects as part of a long tradition of collective giving. “Collective, strategic giving used to happen in a lot of cultural communities, including African Americans,” Jennifer says. “These were spaces to have really open and frank conversations about money — conversations that were super taboo elsewhere. The more we open up those conversations, the better we do the work.”