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How We Work

Social justice, frontline, historically excluded organizations are chronically underfunded by traditional philanthropy and need support to access different types of capital to build long-term power.


Democratizing Philanthropy Project works directly with organizations to develop the knowledge, experience, and tools they need to build a larger activist base and independent revenue streams.


We support organizations new to the worlds of organic fundraising, list building, and donor conversion, taking our time to educate organizations and their staff, and work with them to develop a sustainable plan. 


We learn by doing. 


Interested? Contact us today.

A cartoon woman holding a megaphone and wearing a shirt that reads "DPP"

Participant organizations generally opt-in for a program with lead generation or organic fundraising at the heart, with multiple virtual digital organizing workshops, customized 1:1 coaching, and asynchronous learning via Slack.

A cartoon woman of color holds a banner that says "Democratizing Philanthropy Project"

The purpose of Democratizing Philanthropy Project is to shift power to organizations chronically underfunded and working on the frontlines around the systemic issues facing our nation. We do this by giving them the ability to build a powerful, lasting small donor revenue stream and network of engaged activists and donors they can rely on.


We hope that by growing their lists and working to convert those lists into active members and small donors, organizations will increase their independent power by reaching more people and building sustainable revenue streams to support their work over time, making them less reliant on traditional philanthropy to respond to the urgent needs facing their communities. 

Cohort-Based Learning

Cohorts of organizations working on the same issue, in the same state, or utilizing similar strategies come together to learn how to build small donor revenue. Our cohorts generally run for 4-6 months,  are funded by foundations and include multiple components:

  • Group, virtual workshops

  • Asynchronous learning

  • 1:1 coaching

  • Lead generation and/or organic fundraising

  • Capacity building grant


Within our cohorts, we seek to:

  1. Drastically grow the reach and power of organizations by building each of their email lists;

  2. Provide organizations with critical knowledge on subject lines and email messages that work (or don’t work), and strategies to meaningfully engage new people in their work;

  3. Teach the organizations how to build a welcome series or “email drip” to integrate the new emails to their existing list, learn key terminology and steps, and build the knowledge and skills required to manage email lists and convert people to small donors;

  4. Ensure organizations develop knowledge, skills, and experience around key concepts through group workshops;

  5. Test and learn from multiple strategies for list growth and engagement including lead generation, influencer appeals, and real time news hooks; and

  6. Develop key learning to share with the network.

Cohort-Based Learning


Springboard programs are shorter, eight-week sessions with up to twelve organizations that include four virtual workshops, four “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions, and asynchronous support and resources. Springboards can be anchored around lead generation or organic fundraising tests. All participating organizations receive a stipend to participate.


Workshops are customized by cohort. Sample topics covered throughout the workshops include: How to onboard your new to list names into your technical system and tag them correctly; Fundamentals of agile-based testing; How to set up the right cross-functional team for persistent performance; How to do effective onboarding and ongoing (re-)engagement, and monitoring list health;  “Do this now” on converting email names into recurring donors; How to evaluate payback rate and to optimize for retention/ongoing engagement.


Asynchronous support and resources are offered throughout each springboard via a private Slack channel that provides a space to share materials shared in the program and other helpful templates and resources and a space for cross-team sharing and communication. We also develop and share videos for on-demand viewing to supplement the core workshops and AMA sessions.

What is Lead Generation?


Democratizing Philanthropy Project primarily utilizes lead generation — a paid strategy that helps mission-aligned organizations build their audience by sending their unique campaign content to millions of active subscribers via our partners at Daily Kos.


Through our programming, participating organizations can choose to build their lists through lead generation, bringing each group typically 20,000 new-to-list (NTL), opt-in names. Organizations will learn fundamentals of list acquisition including list encryption, subject line testing, creative (message) development, message testing, data analysis, and list integration. New emails will be primarily national, with some limited geo-graphical targeting when possible. Democratizing Philanthropy Project partners with Daily Kos and their list of 3.3 million active progressive donors to acquire NTLs for each organization and will test five to eight subject lines and four messages, providing critical analysis on what messages worked and what messages didn’t, and why. Of the 3.3 million active subscribers on Daily Kos' list, 1.1 million are individuals who have either signed up in the last 91 days or clicked through an email in the last 183 days. Cost per national NTL is $1.75 and geographic targeted names cost $2.00 per NTL. 

Three screenshots from a Daily Kos email. On the left is a message regarding an immigration bill, the center image shows a petition for the reader to sign regarding the immigration bill, and on the right is an ask to donate to organizations working on immigrant rights.


Organic fundraising happens when a group self-publishes an article via our partners at Daily Kos. At the end of the article, they can add a “donate now” option that moves readers to give directly to the organization via their Act Blue account. Successful organic appeals are then sent by Daily Kos to a subset of their email list, generating more awareness about the issues, the work on the frontlines and often facilitating small donations directly to the organization. 

Three screenshots from a Daily Kos news article on immigration, with arrows connecting the images from left to right. On the left is an image of the article's heading, photo, and opening paragraph. On the middle screenshot is more text from the article, with an ask to donate $5 to help immigrant families framed and bolded at the bottom, and on the right is a screenshot to the donation page, with a description of the immigrants rights agencies that will be supported with the donation.
What is Organic Fundraising?
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