Collective Imagination Practice Fund

£150k is available for distribution 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 readMay 3, 2023


Quick links (read on for full info about the fund):

  • Join our mailing list for the Collective Imagination Practice Community.
  • Read more about our whole programme of activity for 2023–24.
  • NEWS: an additional £50k contribution to the Practice Fund has been committed by Arising Quo, who have a particular focus on Europe (not including the UK).
  • We are going to review a second batch of funding requests for what we have available: please submit yours here by 3pm BST on October 9th.
Launch event for Collective Imagination Practice Community


  1. Introduction
  2. Headline principles and values for the fund
  3. Quests: buckets of activity you can request funding for
  4. Eligibility
  5. How it works (and how to make requests)
  6. The Fund Circle
  7. Underlying assumptions
  8. FAQs
  9. Personal reflections (in the spirit of learning out loud)


Over 2023 JRF’s Emerging Futures team are making £100k available to the Collective Imagination Practice Community, to grow and deepen collective imagination practice. This is 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 this work to the world.

In addition to JRF’s commitment to this work, an additional £50k contribution to the Practice Fund has been committed by Arising Quo, who have a particular focus on Europe (not including the UK).

Canopy, Huddlecraft and Centre for Public Impact will steward the Practice Community over the next year. This includes distribution of the Practitioner’s Fund which we are thinking of as ‘sunlight’ that will encourage this field of practice to grow. (We will also steward a range of other activity, read about the full programme here).

The idea for the Practice Fund is that £150k will be easily distributed in small amounts to support practice experiments, the creation of materials and blogs, practitioner exchanges, and whatever is needed to support the community to grow strong roots.

Importantly, the distribution of this fund is an experiment. JRF’s directive is that we are all accountable to each other, and to strengthening and deepening the field of collective imagination practice, and we are not accountable to JRF.

We are excited by this intention, and know we will all learn a lot this year about how to do this well!



  1. This is an experiment. We don’t yet have all the answers for how this will work in practice.
  2. We are prototyping something that can be administered lightly and with high levels of accountability to growing and deepening the field of collective imagination practice.
  3. As stewards of the Practice Community we don’t want to be the ‘central arbiter’ of the Fund in the traditional sense.

We are asking all those who are seeking to access the funds to consider the following:

  • Are you contributing in some way to the ‘community’? 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 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 £150K 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.
  • We are all accountable to each other and to strengthening and deepening the field of collective imagination practice — not to JRF.


In the last blog post I described how we wanted to borrow from the idea of ‘bounties’ used by ‘decentralised autonomous organisations’ (DAOs); essentially an open task list that can enable decentralised collaboration within a community.

We’re calling our bounties ‘Quests’, and we hope this list will be generative, prompting your requests for funding whilst remaining broad and flexible enough to allow for emergence and ideas we didn’t think of.

There are several areas of activity that you can request funding for, outlined below:

1/ Events

  • Honorariums for contributors and speakers at open Seed Swap sessions
  • Community members proposing to run their own event/s
  • Honorariums or expenses to help people contribute to other events/festivals

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/ Wild cards

  • 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)
  • 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

4/ Documenting and sharing practice

  • Documenting and telling 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
  • Document and share 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, rather than yourself

5/ Community Seed Library and showcase event (early 2024)

We will reserve some funds so that this cross-community event can be community-owned.

  • Budget for the community to support production of the showcase event
  • Design or creative contributions to the seed library output
  • Expenses required to organise a face-to-face element of the showcase

6/ Community Fund Circle


To the best of our knowledge at this stage, here are the guidelines we can offer to help you work out whether you’re eligible for the Practice Fund.

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 (you’ll need a bank account in a country Wise will send money to. If you are outside this, you can look into setting up a Global Payoneer or another service that works in your country that lends you general bank details for a country Wise will send to. That covers most of the world but unfortunately there are still countries outside all of these possibilities e.g. sanctioned countries)

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
  • As this is a small funding pot and both JRF and Arising Quo fund specific geographical areas, you are eligible to request funding if you are based in the UK or in Europe. If outside these regions you are only eligible to request funding if you are participating in a Huddle.
  • Requests that respond to one of the 7 Quest areas (above)
  • Requests that align to our emerging description of Collective Imagination Practice (below)
  • Requests from both individuals and organisations

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 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 of the work we’re especially keen to resource:

  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.

What we won’t fund:

  • Requests that do not centre collective imagination practice.
  • 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.
  • We will not fund requests above £3k.
  • Until we find further funding we will not fund more than 1 request per person or per organisation.


Here is a simple set of steps to take to request funding:

  • To make a request for funding you’ll need to fill out this fund request form, by 3pm BST on October 9th 2023.


In order to give go ahead (or no go) to requests for £ that come in, we have formed a Fund Circle. The Fund Circle will include 2x members of the Practice Community and a member of our stewarding team. The Fund Circle are responsible for making decisions, through as light-touch a process as possible.

The Circle have already learnt a huge amount through reviewing the first batch of requests and will aim to share learnings along the way, as well as to document our process so we can hand over the stewardship role to other community members when the time is right.

We were keen to represent several perspectives within the Fund Circle, whether that be as a result of identity, demographics, professional background, culture or other positionality.

Initially we thought we would switch the Fund Circle membership after 5 months, but it has taken us longer to build an approach we’re happy with, and relationships with one another. So, we decided that it would be of greater service to the community to continue in the original constellation for the full year programme. Hopefully, if we’re able to continue this work next year we’ll have the opportunity to bring new Fund Circle members in.


We’re opening the fund based on the following assumptions and principles:

1/ 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.

2/ 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.

3/ 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 from the outset.
  • 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 the team’s energies into hosting, facilitating, enabling and growing the Community of Practice as a whole, rather than into administrative work on the Fund.
  • 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.

4/ 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.

8. Q&A

1/ 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 this year, we are able to combine our reach and our networks to reach out more widely than if either of us were working alone.

JRF’s Emerging Futures Team already have 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 section 7, 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.

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

In order to give go ahead (or no go) to requests for £ that come in, we have formed a Fund Circle, as described in section 4, above. The Fund Circle includes members of the Practice Community and a member of our stewarding team. The Fund Circle will be responsible for making decisions, through as light-touch a process as possible.

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

We are distributing a relatively small amount of money, so we are prototyping a process that we feel reflects that. It is also important that increasingly there is a feeling of ownership that sits in the community, and that this can be grown over time. If we create a process that requires too large a proportion of the funding to simply distribute the funding, then we will have set this up to only happen as an unsustainable one-off.

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

This is a great question that we will hold as we are getting the Fund set up to launch and open on Open Collective, and as the Fund Circle start to work together. Open Collective will provide total transparency in terms of where the money goes, but it does not open up the decision making process that happens before that.

We know that we will not be prioritising transparency over and above all other things, but it definitely feels like a simple way of sharing our process openly could enhance the accountability we are trying to create.

5/ 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.

6/ If people join the Fund Circle can they apply for funding once they’ve finished their role in the Circle?

Yes, once someone has left the Fund Circle they can apply for funding.

7/ If someone wants to respond to several Quests (e.g. capacity building, evaluation, and peer connection) can they apply for more than £3k?

No. At this current time we will only fund one request per person or per organisation.

8/ 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?

Broadly the answer to this is yes, as long as the activity will still meet the criteria to evolve collective imagination practice. So this might mean that you’re collaborating with other peers to do this work, that you’re deliberately innovating a practice in the way you deliver this, perhaps that you’re inviting the community you’re working with to co-practice with you, or that you’re deliberately building sharing of the practice and learning into your proposal.

9/ What reporting will I have to do?

We aren’t going to ask you to ‘report’ on the work in the traditional sense. But we do care that the work being well documented so that we can give visibility to the whole — as in, each individual sum that is given away will have an individual story to it, and what we want to be able to do is tell the collective story of all of the funds. What did this £100K enable? What did it seed? What has its contribution been to strengthening and deepening the field? How has everyone’s individual seeds been part of this?

We are all accountable to each other and to strengthening and deepening the field of collective imagination practice — not to JRF.

Practically speaking, we will ask everyone who has used the Practice Fund to fill out a short contribution form so that we can collect your documentation of your work, so that we have what we need to tell the story of the fund, and so that we are creating a collective body of work that others can continue to learn from and build on.

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

We are hosting a wide variety of learning activities over the next year, outlined in more detail in this blog post, all of which will provide opportunities for people accessing the fund in different ways to come together and exchange learning. CPI will also be explicitly supporting with storytelling and documentation of the learning processes in Huddles particularly but more widely as well.

We will be asking people to share back what they have worked on.

We will be working towards the creation and sharing of a ‘Seed Library’ output at the end of the year. Some of the Fund will 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. As will the final showcase event as well.

11/ Who do I contact with more questions?

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


In the spirit of learning out loud, hear are a few things I am (personally) particularly interested to learn about through working with the Practitioner’s Fund.

1/ Continuing to deepen my understanding of the potential of Open Collective to change how we work and organise. I began this exploration by using Open Collective as part of the Transformational Governance Stewarding Group, and in particular setting Huddlecraft up as the ‘fiscal host’. Huddlecraft will also fiscally host the Practice Fund. I’m currently writing a blog which lays out some of the potential of Open Collective, which work on designing the Practice Fund has already informed.

2/ Practicing distribution of a sense of ownership within a community, whilst also acknowledging the importance of individual sources of energy and drive within that. Wouldn’t it be brilliant to see the Practice Fund re-funded and sustained beyond the end of this current year of activity? It seems that this will be both about creating a collective, powerful story together — and creating resilience, through a decentralised sense of ownership. I’m curious about how we iterate toward a process of distributing the funds that can be held fully within the community, where the Fund Circle is able to recruit the next Fund Circle (for example).

3/ Learning about the role of peer-to-peer principles within this community. Where does this role start and end? E.g. will the Fund Circle allow us to feel that we a distributing the funds peer-to-peer instead of powerful-to-less-powerful? Is that even possible? And ever-so-many-more-questions!

Thank you to Hannah McDowall, Cassie Robinson, Karen Lawson and Aurora Horwood for collaborative efforts to pull this together.