Collective Imagination Practice Fund: Year 2

£125k is available for distribution over 2024 with the aim of growing and deepening the field of collective imagination practice. To be administered lightly with and for the community.

Zahra Davidson
Collective Imagination Practice
15 min readMar 15, 2024



In 2023 JRF’s Emerging Futures team made £100k available to the Collective Imagination Practice Community (CIPC), to grow and deepen collective imagination practice. This was part of their recognition of a growing demand for collective imagination work, and a growing desire amongst practitioners to learn from each other, experiment together, develop more practices and demonstrate the value and visibility of the work to the world.

In year 1 we distributed 30 micro-grants (making decisions via a Fund Circle) as well as supporting 7 collective imagination Huddles and hosting a programme of open activities. You can see an open leger of all the funds we distributed, here.

Toward the end of 2023 Arising Quo contributed an additional £50k to the Practice Fund, for distribution to practitioners in Europe specifically (not including the UK). £35k is still available so we’re continuing to encourage requests from folks in Europe — and JRF have now contributed another £90k, giving us a total of £125k.

In year 2 we will continue to distribute the funds in small amounts up to £3k, to support and encourge; practice experiments, applications and documentation; the community to continue to grow strong roots; collective imagination practice to land in more places where it can make an impact.

Last year we worked with a principle of accountability to each other, and to strengthening and deepening the field of collective imagination practice (instead of accountability to JRF). We continue with this principle whilst acknowledging that our connection to JRF’s ecosystem of initiatives is beneficial to the community and our aims.

This year JRF are developing their imagination infrastructuring strand. This is great news because the intention that sits behind all these programmes, including ours, is to grow the visibility and legitimacy of this work, so that there is more (and better) collective imagination practice.

The Fund Circle will continue to be responsible for distribution of the fund, however JRF is eager that this work connects to impactful transformational contexts and reaches new audiences in order to demonstrate its value in places where it may currently be seen as marginal. This interest is reflected in the guidelines below.

2. Headline principles and values for the fund


  1. This continues to be an experiment. We learnt a lot in year 1 but we will continue to try new things in year 2 and learn as we go.
  2. We continue to prototype something that can be administered relatively lightly and with high levels of accountability to growing and deepening the field of collective imagination practice.
  3. As stewards of the CIPC we don’t want to be the ‘central arbiter’ of the Fund in the traditional sense. We will continue to develop the Fund Circle approach.

We ask all those who seek to access the funds to consider:

  • Are you contributing in some way to the CIPC? By this we mean that we’d like the funds to be used primarily by those who are showing up, sharing and contributing to this community.
  • We aren’t going to ask you to ‘report’ on the work in the traditional way, but we do care that the work is well documented so that we can give visibility to the whole — what was the collective story? What did this £100K enable? What did it seed? We’d like the funds to be used by those who feel a commitment to telling this story with us. So far we’ve been collecting documentation in a shared scrapbook.
  • We are all accountable to each other and to strengthening and deepening the field of collective imagination practice.

How we’re describing Collective Imagination Practice:

Whilst we think it’s important to bring clarity to what we mean by ‘collective imagination’, we don’t mean to define it, or to try to ‘own’ a definition of a practice that is rapidly emerging. We know that many people are doing this work under terms such as social imagination, decolonial imagination, the Black imagination, civic imagination, municipal imagination, temporal imagination, ecological imagination, moral imagination, imagination justice, interspecies imagination, public imagination, political imagination and the unimaginable. We also know this work happens within communities of social foresight, afro-futurism, social dreaming, ecological arts practice, social arts practice, narrative practice, cultural work and many more.

So, instead of offering a definition, we offer a list of characteristics:

  1. It’s practice based. What is being learnt is being learnt through practice.
  2. It’s rooted in growing the capacity of people to see more possibilities, to shift their perception, to draw on different senses, to re-wild their ideas, to stretch their thinking, to connect to new or different feelings, to untether from familiar or entrenched ideas, and more.
  3. It’s work that emphasises the collective. What can the collective imagine or dream that an individual never can? How are we resourcing this work to be done in community and in ways that honour our interdependence?
  4. The practices can lead to material change and shifts. We care that this work isn’t done in isolation or on the periphery and are keen to deepen and strengthen work that will influence or shift decision-making or cause resources to flow differently.
  5. It’s multidisciplinary. The practices might draw on somatics, other kinds of embodiment work, connecting to future generations, or ancestors. It might include working with the land, the more-than-human world, with dreams and with planetary intelligence. There might be methods from social foresight, narrative therapy, myth-making and more.

3. What can you request funding for?

In year 2 the Practice Fund will still be open for a wide variety of requests up to a maximum of £3k in value. We are still concerned with deepening collective imagination practice and with ensuring that the learning is captured and fed back into the community.

This year we are also thinking more about the collective story that we can tell as a result of all of our activity, and how this story might land in more unexpected places and with more resource holders and decision-makers.

ALL fund requests must aim to strengthen and/or deepen collective imagination practice. Requests may include:

1/ Events:

  • Community members proposing to run their own event/s
  • Honorariums or expenses to help people contribute to other events/festivals
  • Honorariums for contributors and speakers we invite for our programme of open events

2/ Collaborations and experiments:

  • Collaborations to develop, apply or share collective imagination practice/s
  • An experiment, designed to learn something new about collective imagination practice
  • Growing capacity for the work in new or unexpected places

3/ Learning experiences:

  • A field trip or learning exchange that will support peer learning, relationship building or development of practice (people and organisations involved in this request must be aware of and consent to the request going in)
  • Organising a group or micro-community who will explore and deepen learning around a particular theme or question connected to collective imagination practice

4/ Documenting and sharing practice:

  • Documenting the stories of your work in a way that strengthens the visibility of the field and understanding of the value of this kind of work
  • Documenting and sharing a practice in any format, for example as a blog post or by creating a tool or toolkit
  • Promoting the practices and the field of collective imagination

5/ ‘Serving’ the Practice Community:

  • Offering gatherings or sessions that you’d like to see, that we as stewards haven’t offered
  • Facilitating ways for people to connect and form collaborations
  • Spotting patterns across the community, or distilling insights from the blogs and practices that are being shared

6/ Wildcards

  • Creating new relationships that lead to new practices being developed
  • Creating reflection and resting space in a way that creates value for the community and field
  • Proposing something not on our list, but that still meets our criteria

In year 2 we are ALSO particularly interested in fund requests that engage with specific audiences and/or contexts in a way that:

  • ‘Lands’ collective imagination in unexpected places
  • Brings a wider variety of people into the community (beyond civil society and the arts)
  • Leads to material changes or shifts for people or places
  • Causes resources to flow differently or shifts decision making
  • Connects collective imagination work to resources holders, key decision-makers and/or policymakers
  • Supports the community to tell a compelling story about the value of the fund and the practices

4. Eligibility

In order to access the Fund you must be:

  • Over 18
  • Signed up to our mailing list
  • Residing in a country where you will be able to receive funds via Open Collective and Wise in conjunction

What we will fund:

  • Requests from people who are contributing in some way to the Practice Community, beyond just popping up to access the money
  • Requests that respond to sections 2 and 3 (above)
  • Requests from both individuals and organisations

What we won’t fund:

  • Solo learning and development activities like courses or retreats
  • Personal equipment you require for collective imagination, e.g. a laptop
  • Materials or equipment that are not connected to a collective imagination activity
  • Ongoing subscriptions e.g. software subscriptions
  • Subcontracting someone else to deliver your full request
  • Flights
  • Requests above £3k
  • In general we will not fund more than 1 request per person, per round of requests

5. Make a fund request

To request funding, please fill out our fund request form by midday Friday 28th June.

If the Fund Circle give you the go ahead you’ll be able to make your request via Open Collective.

Note: this will be the last batch we’ll review during 2024.

6. Guidance for making a successful fund request

Requests that the Fund Circle did not choose to fund in year 1 tended to be for 1 or more of the following reasons:

1/ The collective aspect of collective imagination practice wasn’t evident enough. Such as, proposed activities that were imagination-based, but it was unclear how the practice went beyond individual imagining.

2/ The imagination aspect wasn’t evident enough. Such as, proposals for conversations which did not go further than discussion as a method of engaging the imagination. For example we would be unlikely to fund a conversation to imagine the future for forests, and far more likely to fund a discussion between people who take on the perspective of the trees.

3/ The work had been reframed as collective imagination for the purpose of this fund but didn’t really meet the criteria. Such as, a request to bring people together to get creative in a way that would be very beneficial and nourishing, but unfortunately doesn’t match our working description of collective imagination practice. Or, a request to fund an existing project that isn’t really about collective imagination.

4/ There was no plan to document, harvest or share back with the community. Such as, a request where the full budget would be used for designing and organising a workshop series, but it wasn’t clear how the community would benefit from this or how the learnings from the workshop would be captured and shared.

5/ The proposal was not linked to meaningful impact. Such as, a proposal that would be a really nice experience for a small group of practitioners, but without thought given to how collective imagination practice is a tool to advance bigger issues or create shifts.

(Of course it’s important that this is proportional to the amount of money someone is requesting. If you request £200 to travel somewhere to learn from a project, the impact might be that you’ll bring your learnings back into the organisation you work for. We aren’t asking you to promise the world for tiny amounts of money — but to recognise the smaller or larger way your request beckons emerging futures.)

6/ Not much thought or detail given to the answers. Such as, a request for £3000 that doesn’t show us why £3000 is needed or how it will be spent. Or an answer about how learnings will be shared that says ‘we will share the learnings’ but that doesn’t say how.

(The Fund Circle is accountable to the community so they need enough information to make good decisions that make best use of the funds for the community. It’s a short fund request form, and we want to keep it that way, but please make sure you fully answer the questions and prompts.)

We look forward to reading your request!

7. Q&A

1/ On which assumptions has the fund been designed and stewarded?

  • We are starting from a position of trust — trusting people to know whether the Fund is right for them, how much is the right amount to ask for, and what value means in this context.
  • We trust that those participating in the community and accessing the fund will know what accountability to the community and to the work looks like, and that the whole community will be paying attention to that.
  • We know that we are making some trade-offs:
  • We are choosing to move forward being as light-touch as possible with an ‘it’s good enough’ mindset rather than making everything perfect.
  • We are choosing to move resources out into the work rather than getting too caught up in lengthy conversations about process — about who makes what decision, how the decisions are made etc. We will do some of this but this isn’t an experiment in participatory grant-making.
  • We are choosing to put as much of the team’s energies into hosting, facilitating, enabling and growing the Community as we can.
  • A trade-off on all of the above could be equity — who has access, who chooses to access, who knows how to access, who feels confident to access, who values their time appropriately etc. We’re hoping the community as a whole pays attention to this, however we will also be looking out for it and course-correcting if need be.
  • This is an experiment. If we realise that we need to put in more constraints etc, then we will do so as we learn from what happens.

2/ How are you making sure you reach out broadly and inclusively with the Practice Fund?

We are concerned with many axes of diversity when it comes to engaging people with the Practice Fund. We know that collective imagination practice is enriched by bringing together multiple perspectives, and that those perspectives are rooted in many positionalities, including demographics, identities, professional backgrounds, location, culture and many more.

Through the partnership of organisations who have come together to steward the Collective Imagination Practice Community, we are able to combine our networks to reach out more widely than if either of us were working alone. JRF’s Emerging Futures Team already has a large list of people interested in collective imagination practice. This was our starting point in terms of reaching out. Centre for Public Impact have joined this partnership with an explicit intention to connect us internationally to a global community of people practising collective imagination.

We also know that the networks of our organisations will also be limited in terms of who we reach, and we will also be limited by the amount of time we are able to spend on outreach.

We also know, as outlined above in Q1, that some of the choices we are making may be in tension with our aspiration to be inclusive. For example we are prioritising getting the funds out to those who already make up this community, and we are prioritising an experimental approach that will allow us to learn about how light-touch our distribution approach might be. We aim to balance these intentions, knowing that this will mean we cannot achieve perfection in every area.

We want to invite you as the Community to take responsibility for co-creating the answer to this question and others, and not to see us in the stewarding team as needing to solve everything for you. You are invited to be proactive about sharing the fund and looping in people and organisations that you think should know about it. You can also make requests for funding that explicitly centre around or involve the bringing in of people that you feel aren’t represented in the Community, and we would really encourage it!

We will continue to share this work publicly and to engage other perspectives. Please join us in doing so.

3/ How are decisions going to be made, and by who?

In year 1 we formed a Fund Circle, including 2 members of the community and 1 member of the stewarding team, that made decisions about requests that came in, on behalf of the community.

We will continue the Fund Circle into year 2, with the same members to begin with, as it took some time to create a process that works and form as a group.

The longer term intention will be to rotate Circle membership to other members of the community. We’ll aim to rotate at least 1 Circle member in 2024.

The Fund Circle learnt a huge amount in year 1, some of which is reflected in these updated guidelines for year 2, and some more of which we’ll hope to publish later this year.

Fund Circle members are paid for their contribution from within the fund.

4/ Why not a more involved collective decision making process?

We are distributing a relatively small amount of money, so have been prototyping a process to reflect that. JRF were also clear initially that this is not an experiment in participatory grantmaking.

Having said that, it has also been clear that we should be growing a feeling of ownership over the fund that sits within the community, and that we want those who request funds to feel accountable to the community.

So, we aren’t closed minded to approaches and further experiments that might help us meet our aims or steward the fund in a light touch way. A process that requires too large a proportion of the funding to simply distribute the funding, will make it harder to continue to fund the Collective Imagination Practice Community.

5/ How will you make sure the decision making is transparent?

This is a great question that we remain interested in. True transparency requires a lot of time and care, and therefore a lot of resources. So far, with the limited stewarding budget we have, we have prioritised other things (for example that most of the money should go out to the community rather than pay for us to make everything transparent).

Open Collective provides total transparency in terms of where the money goes, but it does not open up the decision making process that happens before that. We remain interested in how we might move toward greater transparency in future, and welcome suggestions from the community.

6/ If people apply for funding for related/similar ideas, will the Fund Circle connect us up?

Yes, the Fund Circle will look out for opportunities to connect people up, where appropriate. And you are invited to look actively for these opportunities within the open sessions and Huddles as well.

7/ If someone has several ideas for different projects, can they make multiple applications for £3k? Or break down a larger idea into several smaller requests.

Within each batch of fund requests our guideline is that we won’t fund more than one request per person, but when we open the next round you’re welcome to make another request, particularly if it builds on work you did in the previous round.

We have this guideline to try to make sure the widest range of practitioners can access support from the fund.

There may be circumstances which don’t fit neatly into these guidelines, please get in touch if you’re unsure via

9/ Will we fund people to bring Collective Imagination Practice to a community / context which are not imagination practice peers, e.g. to practice imagination with prisoners or housing officers or policymakers?

Absolutely yes, as long as the activity still meets the criteria and guidelines. It’s important that you can show how your collective imagination practice can make an impact — and important for the community as a whole to be able to tell a story about the value of our activity. By applying your practice in a variety of contexts it’s likely you will help to tell that story by showing how these practices can be used and socialised beyond an ‘in group’. We still ask that you think about how you shared the learnings with your peers in the community.

10/ What reporting will I have to do?

We aren’t going to ask you to ‘report’ on the work in the traditional way, but we do care that the work is well documented so that we can give visibility to the whole — what was the collective story? What did this £100K enable? What did it seed? We’d like the funds to be used by those who feel a commitment to telling this story with us. So far we’ve been collecting documentation in a shared scrapbook.

When you complete your funded activity we will ask you to:

  • Share your outputs and/or documentation
  • Complete a sections in the shared scrapbook
  • Encourage you to publish your outputs and/or learnings on our Medium publication

11/ How will learning be shared from those who do things by accessing the fund and the wider community?

Once again we’ll be hosting a variety of learning activities over year 2, all of which will provide opportunities for people accessing the fund in different ways to come together and exchange learning.

We will have a stronger focus in year 2 on ‘convergence’, particularly in the autumn when we will be harvesting across all our activity to produce a ‘Seed Library’. Some fund swill be reserved for the Community to contribute to pulling this together. We don’t yet know exactly how this will look but it will provide an opportunity to capture, exchange and ripple out the learning.

Who do I contact with more questions?

If you have any more questions about the fund, please send them to