Philanthropy Friday: Daily Giving and The Pollination Project

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

The Pollination Project

The Pollination Project believes in the power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  Co-founded by Ariel Nessel and his sister-in-law Stephanie Klempner, The Pollination Project seeds $1,000 grants to “individual change makers” every single day of the year. 

I had the opportunity to talk with Ari, who is also the president of The Pollination Project, and Alissa Hauser, the executive director. Both are as passionate about philanthropy as I am. And they are dedicated to a daily giving practice.

How does The Pollination Project fund grants every day? Ninety-five percent of the funding actually comes from Ari himself. The other 5% comes from donations, though The Pollination Project does not do traditional fundraising.

But Ari’s not just writing a check every day. In his words, simply writing a check would not nourish his soul. The Pollination Project came about because he realized how powerful money could be after making charitable donations for a number of years. He saw what a dollar could do and how he was more engaged when he felt like he was making a difference. But there was still a disconnect. He knew he had the capacity to give financially, but he also knew giving time and effort is equally important. He wanted to find those people who were doing the work in the world without being a cog.

Alissa, who had run nonprofits for 20 years, was tasked with manifesting Ari’s vision. As Alissa tells me, The Pollination Project is all about believing in people. “It’s about believing in every applicant’s goal to change the world, whether they get the grant or not.”

The issue areas The Pollination Project funds include environmental stewardship, animal protection, social justice, community health and wellness, and arts and culture. The organization enlists the help of teams, which often include past grantees, to review grant applications to ensure applicants meet the specific funding guidelines. Alissa says approximately 31% of the applications are funded.

The Pollination Project grantee map

Click on this grantee map from The Pollination Project to see where their grantees and projects are located. When you click on the stars, you’ll get a short description of the project.

As you can see from the grantee map, The Pollination Project has “planted seeds” all over the world. Grantees include people like Elle Morgan, who created a magical campground for adjudicated teenage girls in the Appalachia region of Pennsylvania. And Vincent Atitwa, who provided starter plants to 25 families in the Matungu Sub County, Kenya, teaching them to grow their own food and then pay it forward to others in the form of new seedlings. You can read more about past grantees on the website.

Ari says The Pollination Project’s model augments the more traditional funding model that typically includes larger organizations giving to larger groups. His vision is for The Pollination Project to manifest a place where everyone can relate to being a philanthropist, where we all support each other, roll up our sleeves and do the work.

Watch this video to hear more about this vision.

Here are some simple ways to get involved with The Pollination Project (or to plant your own seeds):

 Are you a change maker?

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  1. says

    I love that Ari is so invested in his giving and realizes that writing a check is just the beginning! As always, thanks for sharing these amazing organizations with us, Jennifer. On a day all about LOVE, it’s wonderful to see love in action!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..What is Love?My Profile

  2. says

    People like Ari are one in a million… I am always just blown away at the generosity and unbelievable efforts made to invest in good causes with good people. What an amazing ambition and truly a phenomenal mission Ari has set out to do. Brilliant idea to take giving one important and significantly deeper step further in his cause.
    Chris Carter recently posted..Love: Don’t Settle For Anything LessMy Profile

  3. says

    What a wonderful man with a generous heart. I’m crazy about the whole idea and you know me Jennifer, gardening is my passion. I checked the map and there are quite a few places in my area who are actively engaged in this project. Very cool!
    jen recently posted..a view from my doorMy Profile

  4. says

    Jen, I love Ari’s vision. Where I live now, it’s very small town and there is a lot of support for both for profit and non profit organizations. We are all helping each other and supporting each other’s success. I think this should be a business model for humanity. Period.
    Ilene recently posted..Mixed VibesMy Profile

  5. says

    Thanks for posting about The Pollination Project Jennifer! I can feel his passion through the screen. The fact that he’s funding $346,750 of his own money is amazing (if I read that correctly). His idea of micro-giving is smart and replicable, very much like micro loans in developing countries. Find the people with the drive and passion, give them a little boost and watch them fly. Love it!
    Tawanna recently posted..6 Sweet Valentine’s Day Travel Packages For You And Your LoveMy Profile

    • says

      I agree, Tawanna. And they are very specific about who they give these micro grants to. They want those with that extra drive and passion so they can help them be successful for years to come. Sometimes all people need is that boost!


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