Fundraising, especially for small grassroots nonprofits, is often a necessary, but daunting task. For those who are working hard toward ending the exploitative nature of much of our economic system, it can be especially frustrating to have to engage in that very same system in order to continue their fight and support local residents.

However, a different, more transformative story is emerging from the organizing efforts of groups like Siembra NC. The organization’s members in North Carolina are stepping into leadership and providing direct assistance to neighbors impacted by the immigration system and COVID-19.

What it shows is that if centered on the direct needs of impacted vulnerable communities, fundraising efforts led by the most impacted can not only raise money but can also enhance other power building activities.

Siembra, NC was founded in 2017 as a explicitly pro-Black, pro-undocumented, pro-working class, pro-woman, pro-LGBTQ, pro-transgender, and pro-indigenous organization of Latinx people building power “with papers and without papers.” A fiscally sponsored project of the national Mijente Support Committee, their members across 6 North Carolina counties have won new policies to limit ICE-local law enforcement collaboration, helped defeat anti-immigrant state legislation and supported immigrant worker wage theft campaigns that won over $60,000 in back pay and damages for their members. Last year, they knocked on hundreds of Latinx voters’ doors in Durham to help win a $95 million affordable housing bond, the largest housing bond referendum in NC history.

People of Latin American descent make up 34% of the North Carolina’s confirmed COVID cases, despite making up just over 12% of the state’s population. The majority of Siembra’s members and Latinx people in the state also work in industries considered “essential” and that were never forced to close.

Read the full article about people-powered fundraising by Elbert Garcia at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.