Brynn Carnesecca | Lehi Free Press
Grant Collins, the founder of GrassRoots Giving, always had an affinity for service and giving. His family, although generous, was by no means the stereotypical image of large-scale philanthropy. In his junior year at BYU-Idaho, Collins recalled his feelings about giving to others. “Essentially, I thought that you were supposed to get in a position to be successful, go to school, join a startup or create your own business, make a ton of money and then when you are rich or retired, you can think about giving back,” Collins said.
Around this same time, Collins attempted to give money to a few struggling roommates. “It ended up being a pretty big disaster,” Collins remarked. “I almost lost both of those friendships in one way or another. I’m sure it was because of the way I approached it…I didn’t understand concepts like empathy, empowerment and sustainability.”
The experience toppled Collins’ view of giving. “I realized that if I waited to help until I was rich or retired, I would either have to outsource all of the giving or essentially be like a little child throwing sticks of dynamite at random causes.”
Thus began Collins’ epiphany regarding his personal philanthropy, service and giving.
A few years later, in 2017, Collins found a void in his life. He started to look around him, realizing the economic disparity in the world. Global issues such as refugees, poverty and food insecurity plagued his mind.
One night, Collins sat on a bench outside BYU-Idaho, staring at the Taylor building. “I remember…being so overwhelmed by the world we live in,” Collins said. That night, Collins had two realizations. First, he needed to be grateful for all he had. The second was that people’s lives can improve by using their resources and abilities to benefit their community. Collins’ next goal was not to wait to change the world once he was older and more successful but to start doing good in that moment.
A few months later, Collins continued his rethink of service. He realized that many service projects around him were unsustainable, under-researched or under-planned. “I started to approach giving as a skill,” Collins shared. “I began by doing little things such as writing a gratitude note for somebody or giving a gift card to someone I knew was struggling…As I did those, I started to see that this proactive intention could start to make a lot out of a little.”
Collins’ small acts of giving soon grew into a lifestyle. He began budgeting a certain amount of time and money each month for giving. He discovered that with that type of approach, more and more opportunities to give kept coming his way.
Collins began to realize the power of one in the world of philanthropy. “Of the 484 billion dollars donated to charity in 2021, 70% of that money was donated by individuals. People just like you and me,” Collins said. “When we think of philanthropy and giving, we only think of huge companies fixing large-scale problems. We feel there is no way to get involved, but it’s just not true.” Collins began to see the opportunity to involve everyday individuals in giving and the importance of coming together to create something incredible.
Enter GrassRoots Giving. To achieve his vision, Collins began two endeavors. The first was to start a podcast called Basement Philanthropy. Created a year and a half ago, Basement Philanthropy’s goal is to teach the skills of giving and put those efforts at the forefront of people’s minds. “We want to crack the media portion of giving, where we can start to take advantage of the giant reach of social media platforms,” Collins said. “Our next step is to get even a small amount of people thinking about service through the podcast.”
The second was a service group, GrassRoots Giving. Initially, the group was formed from a religious service project attempting to connect its members with service opportunities. Last November, the group came together for a monumental food drive for Tabitha’s Way, a local food bank headquartered in American Fork. What started as a typical food drive was soon an opportunity to utilize people’s time and talents for something meaningful. With over 120 volunteers, the project reached over 4,000 homes and collected 6,000 pounds of food. “I had done broader service engagements before,” Collins said. “But there was something about doing it in person that helps service click with people.”
With newfound momentum, Collins began his service group and named it GrassRoots Giving. The name seeks to bring service to a broader audience. The organization has three goals: to help individual givers see themselves as powerful, connect local people to relevant service opportunities, and fill a need within the community. “Non-profits are almost always under-resourced,” Collins explained. “They are under-resourced not because there aren’t enough resources, but because there is nogood bridge between the giver and the nonprofits. People have time, but they don’t know where to give it. They have money but don’t know how to donate it.” GrassRoots serves as a medium to inspire everyday service.
GrassRoots Giving holds large projects every six weeks. Their most recent project was painting red curbs outside of schools. This event brought volunteers together in a valuable and impactful way. In between the large projects, GrassRoots helpslocal nonprofits. On July 29, GrassRoots will host a pre-project to raise donations for Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that builds beds for children. On August 12, the group will have a large project to build roughly 15 beds for Sleep in Heavenly Peace. In the next six months, GrassRoots’ large service projects include another food drive, hosting a service project to aid refugee communities and local inmates. For their smaller projects, GrassRoots will train service dogs, help an international aid organization move warehouses and provide aid for parents of special needs children.
Once GrassRoots inspires people to serve in their projects, they hope individuals will carry the momentum forward to helpindependently. “Every individual can get involved with giving,” said Collins. “The sooner they realize that the sooner we can start fighting larger problems together as a population, community, and world.”
When individuals get involved in GrassRoots, the goal is to find satisfaction in making the world a better place. “The word that comes to mind is fulfilled,” said GrassRoots producer Amber Larsen. “The more you reach out, the more opportunities you see.”
Although GrassRoots’ community of 400 is primarily made up of young adults, anyone is welcome to join their movement. To get involved, listen to Basement Philanthropy on YouTube or any podcast streaming service, follow Grant’s Instagram (@grantdavidcollins) or join the text thread to be notified of all future projects. To join the thread, text the word “GIVE” to 435-465-2245.