Giving Circles Part III

The Washington Post ran a first person article by a member of a giving circle on Sunday (hat tip to Larry Checco of Checco Communications). Claudia Thorne of the African American Women’s Giving Circle writes about the joy of participating in a giving circle. You can read the full article here. I’ve highlighted a couple of important quotes below:

“We didn’t start by just handing out money. Over many months, the two dozen of us met to plan our giving for 2006. We gathered in homes, in offices or sometimes at a restaurant one of us owned, not unlike a book group or an investment club. It was important for us to come together as a group and to hear the ideas of each woman. We worked by consensus and were concerned about the relationships we built with one another.”

“We decided to focus on nonprofit organizations working to effect change in one community and stay in the work for the long haul.”

“We donated a large portion of the money, $25,000, to (Facilitating Leadership in Youth). That dwarfs the $50 or $100 checks any one of us might have written in the past.”

I highlight these quotes because they show some of important ways in which giving circles are going to change philanthropy.

  • They encourage proactive, systematic development of vision and strategy for the members.
  • As “institutions”, they are able to commit to long-term funding of projects. Even as members come and go, the circle continues to maintain continuity.
  • They create leverage by pooling resources.

The combination of these attributes results in larger, more intelligently considered, long-term grants; exactly what nonprofits need.

Claudia mentions that her giving circle is sponsored by the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Lisa Kays of WAWF dropped a comment on my original post regarding giving circles. It seems to me that WAWF is a group to watch as the giving circle trend matures. You can learn more about their services for giving circles here. They also have a great blog.