Celebrating UNITY in 99% Spring – the Power of Social Networking and Community Giving

Join Funding Exchange staff at the next Giveback tonight (July 26)!

This month’s event will feature United We Dream and immigrant youth organizing and will be held at Lucky Chengs/Bamboo (map) in the Lower East Side, Manhattan.

Funding Exchange joined up with the Giveback in June to celebrate the work of the Unity Alliance – it was an incredible party! UNITY is a national coalition of organizations bringing together organizations working for the rights of all workers, civic engagement, economic development and environmental justice.

UNITY is using the 99% Spring platform to conduct trainings around direct action and civil disobedience for their constituents. (99% Spring is a movement to train thousands of everyday people in the principles of nonviolent direct action to expand the voices of the 99%.) Funding Exchange, along with Movement Strategy Center and the Brain Trust NYC, organized donors and allies around the importance of supporting this work, especially as it pertains to organizations, such as those involved in the Unity Alliance, which focus on racial justice and equity as well as economic justice.

While networking across the philanthropist/grantee divide, event attendees enjoyed home-spun vibes and drink specials. They also filled out a survey – and the results 1. demonstrated people like coming together across race and class to show support for social justice issues and 2. reinforced the power of social networking toward that end. Of all survey respondents (about half of the crowd), the most popular answers came down like this:

“How are you interested in staying connected?”

  • Attend future educational and networking events about local grassroots organizations
  • Join a list serve or Facebook page with updates about local grassroots organizations
  • Join a giving circle for funding grassroots movements

More evidence of the power of the community lure of social justice activity came in how most survey respondents heard about the event: “from a friend”. And finally, about half of respondents self-defined as “Donor Activists”, (18% said “maybe” or didn’t answer).

The BrainTrust NYC: Phil, Marcus, Kevin, Tony and Chad

The Take-Away: The power of connecting dots and engaging in action is strong in the social setting, and that’s exactly the environment the BrainTrust NYC constructs through their Giveback format. In spaces like the Giveback, (such as the spring event hosted by Funding Exchange, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and Resource Generation) people can get to know one another across race and class, and across the funder/grantee, donor/fundraiser divides. It’s all about fostering community and encouraging attendees to build lasting relationships.

But then there’s a next step. Building on those relationships and on the growing trust among folks in order to do serious work collectively – learning, strategizing, taking action, giving. Other FEX allies have recently made evident that political education is necessary in working across differences. So as we enjoy artful rhythms and good conversation with someone, start thinking: do I want to get involved in a next step, a deeper conversation, a giving collective, or a political action with this person? Because we hope you will.

Members of the UNITY Alliance

At the pinnacle of June’s Giveback, a couple UNITY organizers shared a few words about their work, and we passed a donation box. So what did the Giveback give back to Funding Exchange? Over the past year, montly Givebacks have been giving Funding Exchange a lot: we see that showing up for each other in the struggle, celebrating ourselves and each other, and building on new ways to advance justice all go a little easier, and a lot further, with a few good tunes and some really great people.



*UNITY partners include: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities (CAAAV), Domestic Workers United (DWU), Community Voices Heard (CVH), Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), Jobs With Justice NY (JWJ), Restaurant Opportunity Center of NY (ROC) and Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ)

***The Giveback is a monthly happy hour dedicated to our colleagues in Nonprofits and Philanthropy, where we give back to those that do so every day. We celebrate them with great music, great drinks, and even greater people. The Giveback is brought to you monthly by The Brain Trust, a collective of professionals in the field of philanthropy working to build better relationships between all those who serve NYC Metropolitan Area communities and to leverage increased support for important community-based initiatives.