The Giving Project

The Giving Project funds social change, builds community, and develops leaders.
We bring multiracial, cross-class groups of people together each year to participate in Headwaters community-centered grantmaking process. Participants raise and give out money to organizations that support significant, long-term solutions for justice and equity across the state.

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The Giving Project Grant

Earlier this year, the 2020 Giving Project cohort raised funds to provide one-year general operating grants to support organizations led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. Organizations applied in early February, and we will announce the grant recipients in late June 2020. 

Headwaters’ Giving Project is part of a national learning community of foundations working together in donor organizing, leadership development and social justice philanthropy. Learn more about the national model.

Year One Evaluation Report

The Giving Project is a six-month commitment:

  • A cross-class, multiracial group of 25 individuals commits to the entire process.
  • Each participant is expected to make a personally meaningful financial gift.
  • Through staff-led workshops and training, the group develops a shared understanding of race, class, and power within society.
    We provide lots of hands-on support as each participant raises money from friends, family, and community.
  • Participants also learn about and are supported through the Headwaters grantmaking process. The group reads and scores proposals, takes part in site visits, makes collective decisions, and grants out money.
  • Community building: includes personal storytelling and collective goal-setting
  • In-depth workshops: deep dive into racial justice and class analysis in the United States
  • Caucusing: caucus by race and class during meetings
  • Fundraising training and support: build skills in relational fundraising and receive ongoing staff and alumni support to raise money for movements in Minnesota
  • Grantmaking: read and score grant proposals and lead site visits to grassroots organizations
  • Collective decision-making: grant money to organizations led by and for BIPOC communities through a democratic, community-led grantmaking process
  • Celebrate and evaluate: celebrate the cohort’s success and evaluate the Giving Project process for continued growth

We believe the Giving Project is a transformative experience for everyone involved. No prior experience with philanthropy or fundraising is necessary.

Apply if you:

  • Want to confront issues of injustice by moving money to some of the most inspiring, effective, social change work in the region.
    are passionate about building community across lines of race and class.
  • Want to learn how to fundraise, make grants, and expand your network.
  • Are open to and ready for personal transformation.

Black People, Indigenous people, and people of color; LGBTQ-identified people; and low- or no-wealth individuals are especially encouraged to apply.

We'll ask you to:

  • honestly engage in the process.
  • commit to the entire Giving Project. Attend all meetings, read grants, and fundraise.
  • make a personal financial contribution: there are no minimum or maximum amounts.

Alumni of past Giving Projects are welcome and encouraged to apply! Email Program Director Melissa Rudnick or call 612-400-6266 she is available to answer your questions.

Our Impact


In the past five years, over 100 Giving Project participants raised over $660,000 to support community organizing in Minnesota.

$4 Million

Over the last five years, Giving Projects across the country have moved $4 million from over 6,000 donors.