Between 2018 to 2022, 44 current and former sex workers have led the Sex Worker Giving Circle (SWGC) in granting out over $2 million to 39 sex worker-led groups building safety, self-determination, community power, and systems of mutual aid for sex workers across the U.S.
The giving circle (a cross-class, multi-racial, and intergenerational giving circle housed at Third Wave Fund) is made up of a group of Fellows with current or past experience with sex work or the sex trade. Fellows annually mobilize resources, make all high-level funding decisions and grantmaking recommendations, bring their voices and leadership into philanthropy, while strengthening community power.
In our fifth year of the Sex Worker Giving Circle, the SWGC is now fully former Fellow-staffed. This year’s 2023 Fellows are planning to distribute $585,000 to new and returning SWGC grantees from across the U.S.
Who can apply to the SWGC Fellowship?
- Current or former sex workers: Participation in the SWGC Fellowship is limited to people with current or former experience with the sex trade and/or sex work. This means trading sex or sexual services for money, shelter, or anything else of value. This can also include escorting / full service sex work, sugaring, stripping / erotic dancing / go-go dancing, porn star / cam work, fetish work, dom/domme work, etc. We also welcome participation from people with experiences of coercion. Experience with sex worker organizing and activism is not required, but those interested must be committed to moving resources and supporting sex worker-led organizing work.
- People with various class backgrounds: We welcome participation from people of all class backgrounds and income levels. You do not have to be wealthy or have savings to join. We center participation from working class and low-income people as an essential part of this giving circle.
- People of all genders: We recognize that people of all genders participate in the sex trade and are sex workers. For that reason, we encourage trans and cis women, trans and cis men, and non-binary, genderqueer, and/or gender non-conforming people to participate.
- People most impacted by oppression: We strongly encourage applications from Black people, Indigenous people, and/or people of color; young people, older people and elders; LGBQ+ people, trans and gender non-conforming people; immigrants, including people who are undocumented; people with HIV/AIDS; people with experience with substance use; people with experience with the criminal legal system; and disabled and/or chronically ill people.
Where can Fellows be located?
Participation in the Fellowship is open to people living everywhere in the United States and its territories, including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
What is the duration and time commitment of the Fellowship?
The giving circle requires a commitment of a minimum of 15 hours per month over five months (typically March – August). This includes attendance of at least 18 virtual meetings and trainings, each ranging between 1.5 – 3 hours in length; 1 to 2 virtual events; plus independent work in between meetings.
Applicants receive a full list of exact dates and times of each virtual meeting and training at the time of applying to ensure full participation is possible.
How will the Fellows be compensated?
All Fellows will receive a $2,000 stipend in recognition of the labor and time that goes into participating in the program. The stipend is divided into three payments across the beginning, middle, and end of the program. All Fellows will also receive a food and grocery stipend of $500, as well as professional interpretation and childcare reimbursements when requested.
What will Fellows do?
Fellows accepted into the SWGC will receive a Statement of Expectations to read and sign, outlining the full context, scope of work, deliverables, and stipends during the duration of the Fellowship. Highlights of the SWGC Fellowship include:
- Training: A key part of the giving circle is collective study. Fellows will learn together and from movement leaders about topics like the racial wealth divide, mainstream philanthropy, grassroots fundraising, grantmaking and more as we prepare to raise money and distribute it to sex worker-led projects across the U.S.
- Fundraising: Each Fellow will receive training and support to fundraise within their networks and broader communities. Fellows will have opportunities to engage in grassroots fundraising projects as decided by the group.
- Grantmaking: Fellows will receive training to support the grantmaking process, including application review and collective decision-making about who receives funding.
- Philanthropic Advocacy: Fellows will have opportunities to engage with the broader philanthropic field and create guidelines and principles for funders with the goal of shifting how they engage with sex workers and sex trade issues.
Build Community: Fellows will have space to build relationships with other current and former sex workers, share stories and knowledge, break bread together, and learn and grow within community.
Will Fellows have to fundraise everything?
We’re super excited about raising money by us and for us, and Third Wave Fund is committed to raising outside funds to expand our impact. We work with donors and foundations to help secure the full amount we plan to award in new grants every year.
What are the qualities of a potential Fellow best fit for this Fellowship?
Ideal SWGC Fellows work well in groups and are committed to working collaboratively to achieve the SWGC’s goals, and have the time, energy, and commitment to attend all meetings, and participate in fundraising, community building, and collective learning activities. Additionally, we’re interested in hearing from potential Fellows who:
- Commit to observing and protecting confidentiality.
- Are willing and open to learn collaboratively from and with people who bring a wide range of backgrounds, skillsets, and experiences, including different orientations around sex work and trading sex.
- Will center and follow the leadership of Fellows who are most impacted by oppression, violence, and criminalization.
- Are willing to engage in constructive conflict and take personal responsibility to transform any oppressive behaviors if they occur.
How does the SWGC navigate confidentiality?
We know that many of us aren’t public with our experiences with sex work and trading sex for lots of different reasons. The application form for the Fellowship uses secure encryption to protect applicant data, which will be kept confidential. Applicants do not have to use their real name, email address, or other identifying information in order to participate. We’ll also have ways for Fellows to fundraise from within their communities without claiming membership in the giving circle.
Third Wave Fund will also not publicize any names, images, or other identifying information of Fellows *unless* you explicitly give us permission to do so, and will take all steps necessary to protect Fellows’ identities and work with each Fellow to identify what works best in terms of confidentiality practices.
Please note: In order to receive the Fellowship stipend, Fellows will have to use their legal name on the paperwork. All legal names will be kept confidential to solely staff involved with cutting checks.
Who cannot apply to the SWGC Fellowship?
Fellows cannot be significantly involved in any group that is applying for funding from the SWGC. The Sex Worker Giving Circle is committed to resourcing the sex workers’ rights movement in ways that are transparent, equitable, and accountable. As a participatory and community-led program, we value the work that Fellows do outside of the giving circle to build sex worker power and community. We recognize that sex worker organizers are more likely to be impacted by this policy due to patterns of funding available to sex workers and the growing but limited spaces available for sex workers to build community with each other.
However, in order to remain a sustainable and credible organization and to maintain the trust of the sex worker movement, we find it necessary to do so currently. This policy will be reviewed regularly to determine its usefulness and to make sure that it is not detrimental to the involvement of diverse members of the sex workers’ rights movement in participating in the decision-making processes of the SWGC.
A person is considered significantly involved if any of the following conditions apply: 1) Is a paid staff member, 2) a board or steering committee member, 3) involved in key decision-making in the organization, 4) a volunteer that is significant in the organization (e.g. being involved in the day to day work of the organization or contributing more than 15 hours a week), 5) legally or fiscally responsible, 6) a paid consultant, 7) has been involved in any of the capacities mentioned above in the last 12 months.
A Fellow and the organization they are involved in can apply for funding from the SWGC immediately after said Fellow has completed the Fellowship cycle or withdrawn from the Fellowship before the cycle is complete.
Our goal is to make our application process as easy as possible. We use a screen reader-compatible online portal for English applications. If you have feedback on what works well or what doesn’t work well, or need accommodations in order to apply, we'd like to hear from you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 917-387-1262 x 806.
Gathering Proposal Materials
To apply for the Mobilize Power Fund, we’ll need the following information for a complete proposal:
Basic Information: Contact information, group description, and a brief (1-2 sentence) description of your proposal
Project Budget: Please include the full budget for the project you want to fund, even if it exceeds your requested amount. Please download and use this Project Budget template.
Group / Organizational Budget: Please include your group or organization's budget of your current calendar or fiscal year (if applicable). Please download and use this Organizational Budget template.
If you are an independent 501(c)(3): IRS Letter for your Organization
If you are Fiscally Sponsored:
- Fiscal Sponsor’s Organizational Budget
- Fiscal Sponsor’s 501(c)(3) IRS Letter
- Current Fiscal Sponsor Agreement signed by both parties
Answers to our Project Narrative Questions: We accept project narratives as written proposals, selfie video submissions, OR through an interview call. Please download and use this Project Narrative template. Project narrative questions are below.
- Written narratives should be no more than 4 pages in length uploaded to our grant portal.
- Video narratives should be no more than 10 minutes in length with a link to the video uploaded to our grant portal.
- Interview calls should be scheduled by emailing email@example.com or by calling 917-387-1262 ext. 806 before the last Tuesday of every month and completed by 5 pm ET on the application due date (first Tuesday of every grant-making month).
- Please note: Due to limited staff capacity, depending on the number of requests we get each month, we may not be able to accommodate your group for an interview call. We aim to prioritize phone interviews for groups for which a written narrative is not accessible, as well as groups led by BIPOC trans people, groups led by young people under 25, groups with no tax status, Spanish-speaking groups, and groups based in U.S. territories.
Project Narrative Questions
- Please describe the purpose and structure of your organization. Include a brief overview of your ongoing or long-term programming, projects, and campaigns. If you are applying as a partnership or coalition, provide a brief description of each group or organization.
- Context: Tell us about the situation your project is responding to, why your response is time sensitive and requires a pivot from your organization’s ongoing work, and how your response to the situation is connected to gender justice.
- Proposed work: Tell us about the project you are seeking funding for. Please include a detailed timeline, a breakdown of the specific activities that will make up this project, and how your strategies and activities strengthen the organizing and movement building power of your community.
- Please tell us how directly impacted people and communities are in leadership and decision-making roles within your group/organization and the project you’re applying for. Please specify if / how young BIWOC* and/or young TIGNCBIPOC** are in leadership and decision-making roles and how they benefit from your project.
- For partnerships only: How did your groups decide to work together on this issue? What is your history of collaboration, if any? What roles will each group/organization have in this project?
* Black, Indigenous, women of color (transgender and cisgender)
**Trans, intersex, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming Black, Indigenous, people of color
Submitting Your Proposal
To submit your application:
- You will need to submit the above proposal materials to our online portal using the two links below.
- Besides basic information and unless otherwise noted, proposal materials will be uploaded as separate documents like email attachments.
- Please submit your documents as .pdf or Microsoft Word files, as our online portal isn’t compatible with other file types.
- For additional guidance on using the online application portal, please refer to our How To Guide (PDF).
- Create a new grant portal account. You may want to gather all of your application materials before logging in.
- After you have created your group’s account, or if you already have an account, please use this second link to create a new Mobilize Power Fund proposal in our grant portal.
- After you have started your proposal, you can save it and log back in later to edit your pre-existing Mobilize Power Fund proposal before you submit it.
- After you apply, you’ll receive an email by the first Thursday of the month to confirm your application was received for that month’s application review cycle.
Questions on using the portal?
If you have questions about the online application portal, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions about submitting your proposal materials?
If you have questions about the content of your proposal or need to submit proposal materials by email instead, contact email@example.com.
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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.