Five people sitting at a conference table listening to a speaker across the table

Workshop Highlights

Thank you to the 20 people who joined us in the Betty Kapetanakis conference room for our January 2019 in-person workshop on how to create a giving plan.

Over the evening, long-time North Star Fund leaders Helen Stillman and Kofo Anifalaje covered a lot of ground about giving plans for social-justice minded people. They discussed not only the basics of what a giving plan is and why it’s good to have one, but also dove deeply into the work of starting to draft a personal giving plan that reflects anti-racist values using a detailed workbook.

Much of the work of creating a social justice giving plan benefits from talking through the process with others in real time. But if you’re starting to think about crafting or updating your Giving Plan, here are two of the highlights you can utilize from among the many conversations and exercises from the evening.

Three basic approaches to include in your giving plan

Although many people understand the need to include a diversity of organizations or issue areas in their giving, we also encourage folks to consider having a diversity of approaches. Here are three core approaches that you can include when setting up your giving plan:

1- Giving that entails giving up some control over money (support for regranting)

2- Sustaining specific organizations that you care about over time

3- Giving in response to emerging circumstances

Two of the three items (#2 and #3) above are straightforward, but the first item is less common, so we’ll explain that a little further here.

Why should your giving plan include regranting? A strong giving plan assumes that although much of your giving will include building a relationship with issue-based organizations that you want to support, there’s something to be said for giving up control over some of your money.

North Star Fund is part of a community of people within philanthropy who challenge the assumption that your giving can be effective without giving up some control. The decision-making power for our grantmaking lies with grassroots organizers who are drawn directly from the communities and organizations that we fund.

Giving up control of money to people who are directly impacted by the issues we’re funding is a unique opportunity—it challenges our internal assumptions that whoever has money is the best decision maker when it comes to resourcing social justice work.

Is there an ideal ratio among the three approaches? We don’t have specific recommendations for the split among these three categories of giving. But if your giving plan doesn’t include all three, you probably aren’t going to have the impact that you want your money to have on movements for justice and your giving may not be reflecting your values as much as you would like.

Good donor practices

Here’s another element of guidance we covered—based on what we often hear from grassroots organizers and leaders about donor practices that enhance the relationship between a donor and an organization.

  • Make long-term commitments when you can. This includes becoming a monthly sustainer, making multi-year pledges, etc.
  • Give to general operating support rather than restricted funds. Don’t tell the recipients where/how to spend the money.
  • Ask questions about what’s most helpful. If you’re not sure when or how to support, ask the people involved.
  • Telling others about the groups you support! In conversation, on FB, on twitter, etc. Identifying yourself as a donor or member and encouraging others to become one to when appropriate.
  • Understand that organizations are counting on you, literally. Hold yourself to the same expectations that you hold the people whose work you’re supporting.

Interested to learn more?

We’ve included just two examples here of the areas we covered in the evening workshop. Everyone’s giving plan is unique, and the topics that we cover to help you develop it benefit from personal reflection and interaction with peers who share your values and your commitment to supporting justice.

Here at North Star Fund, we continue to focus on in-person training so that people can work on giving plans that reflect their personal circumstances as well as their social justice values. If you’re interested in a future giving plan workshop or getting other giving plan development resources, reach out to Helen Stillman at

Header photo by Danielle Pearce

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