Kerry Fugett, Daily Acts

It is rare as a grassroots community organizer to have the decision making power to grant tens of thousands of dollars to organizations doing incredibly important work around the country. It’s rarer yet to be able to dig into the details of their work, learn about their strategies and spark ideas that will make my work better. Nonexistent in the world of foundations is the third layer, the impact of forming deep relationships with driven people from all over the world working to create thriving, resilient communities. These relationships will go far beyond supporting my organizations’ work, I believe they will actually support me as a person working for this planet. They are unique because they were formed by stepping into the essential but difficult conversations that move this work forward, through discussions which require a level of self-awareness and reflection absent from most “professional” working relationships. This third benefit was the last thing I expected from a funding circle.

This Collaborative Grantmaking process felt like the final ingredient that solidified the 9 months of work with TRCC leading up to this retreat. I realize now that the impact of this collaboration is not something I could understand by reading about, it took learning-by-doing to fully experience what a new relationship to money and to each other could feel like. It wasn’t always fun, it definitely wasn’t easy, but when we came out the other end, I felt more rooted in who I am, what I am working towards, and supported by a community so much larger than myself.

In reflecting on the Collaborative Grantmaking experience a week out, and my gratitude for the TRCC has only continued to deepen. To invite people into a situation that would generally breed competition, and give grassroots organizations the power to decide how they believe resources should be spent is bold. There is an element of trust in this invitation, trust in something bigger than yourself. Going in, I thought my input would be a few days and the output would hopefully be a grant RFP. Coming out, I realize the input was authentic vulnerability, genuine curiosity, and humility without ego. The output is immeasurable. It was experiencing what a culture of collaboration can feel like. It was creating a feeling of abundance when the world tells us resources are scarce. It was moving from the lens of individual contribution to collective action through honest conversations about what work is needed to create thriving, resilient communities. It was about looking inward at who we are being through this transition, holding compassion for ourselves and others as we co-create change and heal from past trauma.

In the end, I would summarize my experience of Collaborative Grantmaking with the TRCC as a peek into the future of what can be, where we don’t segment who we are from what we do, but instead share financial power in a way that builds our muscles of collaboration by healing trauma, removing ego, and embracing the complexity of co-creation together.