Sex Worker Giving Circle


The Sex Worker Giving Circle (SWGC) launched in the spring of 2018. The SWGC was created because sex workers are best positioned to confront and transform the oppressive conditions of their own lives. However, movements led by sex workers and people with experience in the sex trade are critically under-resourced despite increasing political attacks. 

The Sex Worker Giving Circle (SWGC) is a cross-class, multi-racial, intergenerational giving circle housed at Third Wave Fund. The circle is made up of a group of Fellows with current or past experience with sex work or the sex trade. The Fellows make all high-level funding decisions and grantmaking recommendations, and lead many of our fundraising activities.

Check out the Sex Worker Giving Circle report from 2021 to learn about our first four years of resourcing sex worker-led liberation!

An illustration of three individuals standing or squatting defiantly in front of four red blooming roses. One person has blond hair, brown complexion, and pink clothing is standing with walking forearm crutches. The second person is standing shirtless with one hand behind their head with short black hair, glasses, and a black bandana around their neck is holding a sign that reads “Decriminalize Sex Work.” A third person is squatting between them with an aqua shirt and their phone in their hand. They are set against a background with purple, pink, and green blobs. The Sex Worker Giving Circle logo (a solid pink four-petaled shape) is in the upper left corner.

Key Dates

Application goes live
March 11, 2024
Informational Webinar recording available for Prospective Grantees
March 14, 2024
Application Deadline
March 24, 2024
Prospective Grantee Interviews
May 2024
May 1, 2024
Decisions and Notifications
June 2024
June 1, 2024
Approvals and Grant Disbursements
September 2024
September 1, 2024
2024 SWGC Grantee Announcement
December 2024
December 18, 2024


In 2018, Third Wave Fund launched the SWGC, the first sex worker-led fund housed at a U.S. foundation, with the dual goal of funding a diverse range of sex worker-led groups throughout the country and bringing current and former sex workers to the philanthropic decision-making table. More than twenty years of funding sex worker-led organizing has taught us that sex workers are best positioned to transform the oppressive conditions impacting their lives but their movements remain critically under-resourced even as political attacks have continued to mount. We were inspired by community-led grantmaking at other funds as well as the long history of sex worker communities taking care of each other, especially sex workers of color and trans and gender non-conforming sex workers.

In 2018, the inaugural cohort of Fellows of the SWGC awarded $200,000 to eleven organizations across the United States.

In 2019, the Sex Worker Giving Circle hired a Sex Work Funding Officer and awarded $370,000 (with an additional $30,000 allocated by fellows for early 2020) to over 20 groups including our first renewal and multi-year grants. We made $200,000 in renewal grants to ten 2018 grantees. We also awarded our first two-year grants, with a total of $400,000, committed to thirteen new grantees over 2019-2020.

In 2020, because of the impacts of COVID-19 on the capacity of our grantees, Fellows, and Third Wave staff, we pivoted to a closed application process. We invited previous grantees to reapply for funding, and recruited several new applications from a pool of nominations gathered from across the networks of SWGC Advisors, Fellows, grantees, and movement activists.

In 2021, we welcomed our first national cohort of Fellows who participated in virtual trainings, workshops, and decision-making meetings. The Fellows awarded $555,000 to 24 groups, a new record for our program at the time. 

In 2022, we continued to facilitate the cohort nationally and we distributed a total of $585,000 to 25 new and returning grantees from across the United States. Pati Morales, SWGC Fellow from 2021, joined the fund as Program Associate.

In 2023, we welcomed Pati Morales as the new Program Officer for the fund, and CJ Bell, as the new Program Associate. With the program now being fully former Fellow-staffed, we plan to distribute $700,000 to new & returning grantees from across the United States.

The Sex Worker Giving Circle logo, an illustration of three individuals are standing or squatting defiantly in front of four red blooming roses and dollar bills at their feet. The words “Sex Worker Giving Circle” and “Third Wave Fund” in handwritten lettering are to the right of the people. One person has blond hair, brown complexion, and pink clothing is standing with walking forearm crutches. The second person is standing shirtless with one hand behind their head with short black hair, glasses, and a black bandana around their neck is holding a sign that reads “Decriminalize Sex Work.” A third person is squatting between them with an aqua mini skirt on, red umbrella tattooed on their leg, and their phone in their hand.


In 2024, the SWGC plans to make a total of at least $410,000 in new two-year grants of up to $35,000 per year.

All applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for funding:

Location: Applicants must be based in the United States and/or U.S. territories, including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Leadership: Your work must be led by the communities you work with; only work led by and for people with current or previous sex work or sex trade experience is eligible for funding.

Budget Size:

  • Grantee applicants must have a budget of less than $400,000

Tax Status:

  • Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) organization, a fiscally sponsored project, or be willing to become fiscally sponsored before receiving this grant. Fiscal sponsorship is a legal arrangement where an organization that does have a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status (the “fiscal sponsor”) sponsors a project that does not (the “fiscally sponsored project”). This arrangement allows your group or project to seek grants and tax-deductible donations using your fiscal sponsor's exempt status.
  • Third Wave Fund will work to support groups we recommend for funding to become fiscally sponsored as a condition of grant eligibility. For more information on fiscal sponsorship, see this article from Non-Profit Quarterly. This process takes at least 2-3 months to complete, so please be prepared to put some time and energy into finding a fiscal sponsor that is the right fit for your group.
  • Projects that are entirely dedicated to political lobbying must be designated as a 501(c)(4).
  • Gender Justice Focus: Applicants specifically work toward gender justice that addresses patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, gender inequity, and/or gender-based violence as well as the ways that gender oppression intersects with racism, ableism, classism, and criminalization. Information on Third Wave’s gender justice framework can be found here.
  • Vision & Strategies: Applicants have a strong vision for themselves and the future and operate with a root cause analysis of oppression that goes beyond the achievement of legal rights and legislative policies. A range of strategies are used to build community power to achieve structural change.
  • Leadership: Applicants are led by and accountable to the communities they work with and work to develop leadership within those communities. We will prioritize groups led by people most impacted by oppression with the least access to funding.
  • Potential for Impact & Growth: Applicants demonstrate a vision for long-term growth and impact and demonstrate how they stand to significantly benefit from funding.

The SWGC supports a diverse range of types of groups and projects as well as programmatic strategies and capacity-building efforts such as training, coaching, or other professional development.

This fund is interested in supporting work done by and for sex worker communities most impacted by oppression and who have the least access to funding. We will prioritize diverse strategies led by and for undocumented people, refugees, migrants, self-identified trafficking survivors, transgender women of color, Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color, young people, elders, disabled, chronically ill, and/or neurodivergent people, and people with mental health issues, outdoor/street-based sex workers and people in the sex trade, currently or formerly incarcerated people, people living with HIV/AIDS, survivors of coercion and abuse, substance users and people who use substances, especially criminalized substance users, and houseless and housing insecure people.

This project will not fund capital campaigns or direct services such as case management or traditional healthcare services. In addition, we will not fund any organizational work that views all sex work or sex trade involvement as coercion or trafficking. We will not fund any work that contributes to the criminalization of sex workers or people in the sex trade.

Over twenty years of funding sex worker-led organizing has taught us that sex workers are best positioned to transform the oppressive conditions that affect their own lives. However, sex worker-led movements remain critically under-resourced. At a time of mounting political attacks against sex workers, we created the SWGC as a space for sex workers to strengthen their relationships, engage in grantmaking, and bring their voices and leadership into philanthropy.

A giving circle is a group of people that come together to pool and raise money in support of a cause. Under the leadership of current and former sex workers, we launched a cross-class, multi-racial, intergenerational giving circle for women, queer, and trans folks with current or past experience in the sex trade.

The 2024 Fellowship application cycle is now closed. Please check back in early 2025 for information on the next Fellowship cycle.

​The 2024 grant application cycle opens Monday, March 11, 2024. Stay tuned for our Informational Webinar, Thursday, March 14th to learn more about the grant application process.

Yes! We count on community support to make this work happen. You can donate here and ​please contact us at with any questions!

Great! We created this report, Creating Community is a Threat to Power: Three Years of Resourcing Revolution and Liberation at the Sex Worker Giving Circle to share some of the brilliance of our SWGC, and to document the SWGC’s model of participatory sex worker grantmaking along the way.


The success of the SWGC is all thanks to the tremendous collective wisdom of its many contributors. At the top of this long list are the five cohorts of Fellows who have shown up and shared their brilliance, humor, and kindness with us and each other to break new paths for resourcing sex worker movements over the past five years. We are forever grateful to you.

Our advisors and allies, including Shira Hassan of Young Women’s Empowerment Project, Cecilia Gentili, and Tamika Spellman, have offered powerful information and advice into the movement strategies and funding needs of sex workers most impacted by oppression. We also benefited from the models and insights of many funders and organizers, including Allison Johnson Heist, Headwaters Foundation; Ana Conner, Third Wave Fund, Miss Major/Jay Toole Giving Circle, and formerly Borealis Philanthropy; Cara Page, Miss Major/Jay Toole Giving Circle and formerly Astraea Foundation; Cathy Kapua, Gabriel Foster, & Marin Watts, Trans Justice Funding Project; Crystal Middlestadt, Chinook Fund and formerly Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training; Eugenia Lee, Solidaire Network; Helen Stillman, North Star Fund; Jes Kelley, Resource Generation; Julia Lukomnik, Open Society Foundations; Kacey Byczek, Harm Reduction Coalition; Nadia van der Linde & Vera Rodriguez, Red Umbrella Fund; Melinda Chateauvert; Naomi Sobel, Giving Queerly and formerly Astraea Foundation; Nigel Charles, Bread & Roses Community Fund; Ruth Morgan Thomas, Network of Sex Work Projects; Ryan Li Dahlstrom, Borealis Philanthropy; Dr. Stellah Wairimu Bosire, UHAI-EASHRI; and Zeke Spier, Giving Project Learning Community and formerly Social Justice Fund Northwest.

We have benefited from guest facilitation from Meejin Richert, Nico Acosta, Benjamin Francisco Maulbeck, Glo Ross, Nico Amador, Cheyenne Davis, Brandi Collins-Calhoun, Sawyer Eason, CJ Bell, Chanel Lopez, Evelyn Quintana, Alex Corona, Leila Raven, and Wit López as well as interpretation and translation services from Caracol Language Coop and Cenzontle Language Justice Coop. The SWGC was co-founded by Maryse Mitchell-Brody, Development Officer, and Nicole Myles, Donor Organizing Officer with support from the entire Third Wave Fund team. Since then, Christian Giraldo held the role of SWGC Program Associate and then of SWGC Program Officer from 2020-2022. Pati Morales, SWGC 2021 Fellow, joined as our SWGC Program Associate in 2022 and is the new and current SWGC Program Officer.​​ cj Bell, SWGC 2021 Fellow joined as our SWGC Program Associate in 2023.

We could not have had such success without the many funders and over one thousand community members who have donated, spread the word, and took a chance on this work: thank you for making it happen.


Make a donation

Want to join the groundswell of donors that make our grantmaking possible? Make a donation today so we can continue to fund the critical work of youth-led gender justice movements.