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On August 10th and 11th, Astraea was in Oakland, CA at the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Trainings (GIFT) Money for our Movements conference. This vibrant gathering teaches self-sustaining practices of resourcing social justice movements. GIFTs progressive approach to fundraising is key in the current economic landscape: it is one in which communities feel the crunch of economic crisis and many foundations shift their funding priorities.
As a public foundation rooted in self-sustaining movements, Astraea prioritizes grantee partner attendance at this unique conference. It is an important space for groups to strengthen their grassroots fundraising skills, share their challenges and successes, and build relationships.
This year, Astraea brought a cohort of 10 recent grantee partners to Money for our Movements and staff and cohort members found themselves among 700 activists, organizers, and fundraisers from across the country. The conference workshops covered a lot of ground: the basics of grassroots fundraising, pitches, building fundraising teams, deepening relationships with donors, and engaging in self-care. Astraeas development team and deputy director also attended to deepen their skills to support grantee partners inspiring work.
Astraeas cohort members are U.S.-based organizations doing urgent work in anti-criminalization, immigration, and safety of LGBTQI people of color. A small gathering was held on August 9th for grantee partners to speak about their work, strengthen their solidarity, and break isolation among those who may feel they are working alone. Some organizations were already collaborating on national issues. Others were meeting each other for the first time. Many grantee partners attested to the incredible synergy created by the multiple movements present at the conference. They also discussed the incredible importance of fundraising within their communities, giving many the opportunity to support their work.
Attending fundraising trainings with grantee partners made me a better fundraiser, Astraeas Donor Engagement Coordinator Naomi Sobel reflected. It deepened my understanding of how crucial Astraea’s support is to them. Leaders from people-of-color-led LGBTQI groups spoke powerfully about the challenges of raising money from many LGBT funders who see their work as too specific, as well as the silencing that results from home communities who regard their work as too divisive.
By the end of the conference, Astraea staff and grantee partner cohort members expressed feeling energized by a renewed commitment to involving communities in their work to guarantee their organizations sustainability. Many links, long lasting connections, and possible future collaborations were forged. Most importantly, Astraea staff and grantee partners came away with an overall certainty that communities have the power to resource the organizations leading the way towards sustainable change.