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 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.
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):
- Start your own daily giving process or join The Pollination Project’s daily giving community
- Apply for a grant to make some change in the world
- Spread the word about The Pollination Project!