Grassroots Giving Guide FAQs
Who are you and why did you create this guide?
We are Lindley Mease and Theo Gibbs. We are two white, class-privileged, cisgender women who live in and love the Bay Area. We believe that two of the most important steps we can take as allies to others who face oppression are to (1) educate ourselves about the history, local context, and ecosystem of change agents working on social and environmental justice issues and (2) mobilize the privileged communities that we are part of to learn and take action.
We created this guide because Blue Heart doesn't have the capacity to support and partner with all these kickass grassroots organizations, but we want to shout the stories of these organizations from our rooftops! We hope that in creating this guide they will get broader attention, appreciation, and funding beyond what we can provide through Blue Heart. We invite you to support and elevate the local movements that are making our cities more just and liveable.
How do I decide how much to give?
Give what you can
If you have a steady job and aren’t living check-to-check, we recommend giving away at least 1% of your annual income. There is a growing community of people who have pledged to give 10%, or more. If you want to direct more of your giving towards grassroots movement-building over the long term, get in touch and we can help you develop a more specific giving strategy.
You found an organization you want to support. Do you give $100 now or $10 every month for a year? We recommend the latter. Becoming a monthly donor helps small organizations plan their budgets and programs with more stability and foresight.
How do I decide what organizations to give to?
Overall guidance: Don't let the good be the enemy of the perfect! You are not a bad person if you gave to a LGBTQ+ organization and not a racial justice organization. These divisions are pretty arbitrary anyway - all this work is interconnected! We selected this set of organizations to make it easier for you to give to organizations doing powerful work in the Bay Area and beyond. Choose a few, give to them, follow their updates over the next year, and then revisit. Through giving, you develop relationships and evolve your own personal giving ethic.
Here are some questions that might be useful to help you choose a few organizations:
Do you want to give directly to organizations working near where you live? Use the icons next to the organizations to focus on the ones working near you.
Do you want to give based on the organization’s issue focus? If you are more interested in a specific issue, we have issue-specific portfolios.
Do you want to get your money out of the urban bubble? If you want to support grassroots organizing in rural communities, check out our "Rural Organizing" portfolio.
Why would I want to become a member of Blue Heart instead of (or in addition to) donating right now?
Do you want a deeper dive into the work and vision of the grassroots organizations working across social and environmental justice movements in the Bay Area or nationally? We believe inspiration and hope are essential to effective philanthropy, and we designed Blue Heart to help people like you meaningfully engage with social issues through stories from frontline movement-builders. We connect our members with tailored opportunities to learn, give, and act on local social justice issues through a monthly subscription to stories, curated learning resources, and action opportunities.
How do I nominate an organization to be added to this set?
Glad you asked! We are always eager to learn about new organizations. Please tell us about your recommendations.
I have a complaint about this guide that I want to share with you. How do I do that?
We love feedback, especially if it’s constructive and thoughtful. Send us an email.
How did you choose these organizations?
Through our work at Blue Heart, we identify and partner with grassroots, community-led organizations who are building the political power of low-income communities and communities of color in the Bay Area and beyond. Over the last 18 months, we have had dozens and dozens of conversations with movement leaders and activists to help refine our strategy and broaden our understanding of the local ecosystem of grassroots organizations. Through these conversations, we have learned about and/or connected with over 150 grassroots nonprofits or unincorporated collectives. Most of the organizations are in the Bay Area/Northern CA, because that is where the Blue Heart team is rooted. We are slowly and thoughtfully expanding our network to include organizations across the US.
For the Giving Guide, we selected organizations we understand to be:
Under-resourced: In our conversations, we explicitly asked about organizations doing good work, yet are under-funded. We also looked at the number of full-time staff and the annual budget (if available) of each organization. Smaller organizations often don’t have the staff capacity to fundraise like large organizations, and are often more directly connected to the communities they serve.
Community-based: Often this means that an organization is led by people from the community that organization seeks to serve. This is a difficult, but important, factor to assess. We assessed this to the best of our ability through conversations with long-time community organizers in the Bay Area and Central Valley.
We strive to be diligent, respectful, and humble in offering these recommendations. If you have a question, complaint, or feedback, please get in touch.