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?

How I’m Shopping With a Conscience This Holiday Season on


My piece about reframing philanthropy that I published on Medium was recently featured on the home page of This excited me because is one of my favorite online communities. (If you haven’t read the post, please do. I think it’s one of my favorite posts that I’ve written!)

If you are not familiar with GOOD, it’s “a global community of, by, and for pragmatic idealists working towards individual and collective progress.”

GOOD is for people who give a damn.

So when they asked me to write a piece for the website, I was honored.

Today, I’m sending you over to to read my article on how I’m shopping with a conscience this holiday season.

If you’re not a part of GOOD, I hope you’ll visit today and join the community. They also have a great print magazine.

Read: Five Simple Ways to Shop with a Conscience This Holiday

That’s me on the home page!

Are you a part of the GOOD community?

Celebrate #GivingTuesday on December 3rd + Rally for WaterAid to #doubleit

#givingtuesday logo

Is it just me or did the Christmas hype start way too early this year? I realize that Thanksgiving is a bit later than usual, but it seems we went straight from jack o’lanterns to Christmas trees.

I’m not a fan of decorating or shopping for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I’m not even a huge turkey fan, but I believe we should respect the bird. Plus Biz turns 5 on Thanksgiving this year. When he was born (after going into labor on Thanksgiving evening) I vowed not to let the craziness of Christmas seep into the house until we appropriately celebrate his birthday and Thanksgiving.

With that said, we’re about to hit that “giving” season where we’re constantly hit with sales at ridiculous hours of the day to buy things we mostly don’t need. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. You know the deal.

Last year I told you about the first annual #GivingTuesday. Well, it’s back this year with a ton more partners and social media ambassadors (including myself). You can also submit a story of impact.


So what’s #GivingTuesday? Here’s the description from the website:

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. This year help us create #GivingTuesday. A new day for giving back. On Tuesday December 3, 2013, global charities, families, businesses, community centers, students and more will come together to create #GivingTuesday.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Be a part of a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

Last year, Over 2,500 charities, volunteer organizations, corporations and foundations came together in all 50 U.S. states to inspire people to be philanthropic on #GivingTuesday. The result was a more than 50% increase in online donations compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year.

Not too shabby.

In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, I thought I’d share how one of my favorite nonprofits is celebrating the day:

Rally for WaterAid to #doubleit on #givingtuesday


photo credit: WaterAid

A generous WaterAid supporter has challenged us to raise $50,000 on December 3rd. If that goal is made the money will be doubled. Doubled! Considering the amazing conversations we had on this blog about the importance of toilets and sanitation for World Toilet Day last week, I’m thinking some of you might be game for this challenge. Just make your donation, however much you can, between 12 am and 11:59 pm EST on December 3rd. Find out more about Wateraid and the campaign

You might also be interested in a new report Wateraid just released with its partners, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, and Unilever’s leading household cleaning brand, Domestos. We can’t wait highlights “the stark consequences that the lack of toilets and good hygiene practices have for women and girls.”

Anyone can be involved with #GivingTuesday. Whether you tweet about it, give money or volunteer your time for a nonprofit, I hope you will take a moment to celebrate generosity.

Will you participate in #GivingTuesday?

Speaking of World Toilet Day, today is the last day to enter to win a $200 Lowe’s gift card!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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