For Melissa Melby, a 2021 Gender Justice Giving Project member, giving to Bread & Roses is about shifting the balance of power. Last year, after the stock market made record gains, Melby’s uncle gave each of his nieces a generous cash gift. “I felt so uncomfortable getting this gift when so many people were struggling because of the pandemic that I immediately started looking for places to give it away,” Melby says. When she learned about Bread & Roses’ focus on community-driven participatory grantmaking, she joined a Giving Project. “I am inspired by Bread & Roses’ vision and process of moving money from communities of donors to communities of people who need it.”
Her parents were her first “ask” and it led to some pivotal conversations: “My dad had reservations about giving money when the recipients had not already been decided—it was like giving up control over where their money was going. We talked about how people in positions of privilege should not have the power to decide where the money goes. Communities should decide how best to spend the money.” Her parents were so impressed by this community-based approach that they made a gift that was two and half times larger than they planned. Melby went on to raise more money for the Giving Project than she ever expected.
“Being in a group of people with so many different experiences and perspectives, all working toward the same goal, was a transformative experience. It showed me that together we can achieve so much more than any one individual can achieve.”