How to build community trust and give back when you’re new to Seattle

This is the second part of a series we’re calling our Evergrey Giving Audit, which connected readers with three local giving prosFrank Nam of the Seattle Foundation, Burke Stansbury of Social Justice Fund Northwest, and Ben Reuler of Seattle Works. Check out Part 2 here.

Reader Neroli Price moved to Seattle from South Africa in September with her partner, who’s now working in tech. Their annual household income is between $70,000 and $100,000. While she waits to get a visa that’ll allow her to work here, Neroli told us she wanted to get involved in local causes.

“I don’t want to be one of those people who just passes through,” she told us. “I am eager to help contribute towards building and strengthening the collective and learn more about the community that I am now a part of.”

One week after she met with Ben, Burke, and Frank, here’s a breakdown of how Neroli’s thinking about giving her time and/or money to Seattle…

Issues of interest: Equity, human rights, cultural history, and government transparency

Budgets:

  • Available to volunteer between 10 and 20 hours per month
  • Currently able to donate about $100 annually


Neroli
’s
 goals:

  • Being new in town. “Currently, I’m not earning [an income]. My partner is able to earn, so we’d have to have that [monetary giving] discussion together,” she said. “It’s [part of] the general chaos of rebuilding your life in a new place and figuring out basic things like grocery shopping, how much things cost, and finding a community.”
  • Living on a budget. “I’m early in my career so I don’t have a lot of disposable income,” Neroli said. “[Giving] hasn’t been a consistent thing and I haven’t been able to give a lot of money.”
  • Researching local needs. “Doing my homework is really important to me. I don’t want [donations] to be a pat on the back, but it to feel right to [my] values and giving to organization that’s filling a gap,” she told us. “Some organizations start at $5 and some want more substantial contributions. I’m trying to figure out what really resonates with me.”


Neroli
’s three key takeaways from her giving audit:

  • Helping out doesn’t have to cost a lot. “You don’t have to be very wealthy to be able to make meaningful financial contributions to a cause that you care about,” she told us. Pro-tip from Burke: “Being a monthly sustainer for even a few groups is a good way to get to know organizations… Even small donations do make a difference for these grassroots groups.”
  • Trust local advocates to show you how you can best contribute. Even when it hasn’t been fully ironed out. Pro-tip from Ben: “Sometimes the best organizations are the messiest because they aren’t well resourced enough to have a volunteer coordinator… But you can build trust with [them] by showing up, being flexible, being positive, and doing things proactively.”
  • There are a lot of ways to give back. “Once you realize that, it opens up so many tangible opportunities to building a more equitable world,” Neroli told us. “This is very empowering in a world where it’s so easy to be cynical and despairing given the current growing inequality, the climate crisis and the political climate in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.”


What’s next for Neroli’s giving plan?

To figure that out, Neroli created a handy spreadsheet of the Seattle orgs she loved learning about during the audit, like The Seattle Globalist, the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites, and the Washington Coalition for Open Government. “I plan to attend their events to get a better sense of what they need and what I could contribute with either time or financial support,” she told us. “My goal is to identify two or three organizations that I could meaningfully contribute to on a regular basis either by volunteering my time, by making charitable donations, or subscribing to their publications to support their work.”

Thanks to Neroli, Frank, Ben, and Burke for being part of our giving audit experiment. We’ll update more from our auditees as we hear more about their plans. Thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making our Evergrey Giving Guide possible. Check out the rest of our Giving Guide here.