Expanding the Ripple Effect: Giving Circles Convene on Equity, Inclusion

Editor’s Note: The following piece is co-authored by Laura Midgley and Bo Lee, board members of Catalist and co-chairs of the Catalist’s upcoming conference. Catalist is an innovative organization working to enhance collective giving by and for women.

For the past decade, Catalist has supported the creation, development, and expansion of women’s collective giving groups, sometimes referred to as giving circles. Open to all women’s collective grantmaking organizations, the network connects and inspires a fast-growing movement of community-minded women who recognize the exponential power of collectively sharing of the experience of giving for social change. The network currently has over 75 affiliates nationwide. Globally, with the addition of groups in Melbourne and London, the movement’s combined giving is over $125 million and has involved more than 17,000 women since 1995. 

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Women’s Giving Circles In the News

The Philadelphia Inquirer just published an excellent in-depth piece on giving circles, and it prompted me to do a scan of the women’s giving circle activity out there.

As the Inquirer article explains, more giving in the circle form is happening now than ever, and much of it is being driven by women.

My favorite line from the Philly Inquirer piece is from Paula Liang:

“The collective giving movement has grown slowly but steadily over 25 years,” says Paula Liang, chair of Catalist, a national network of 75 women’s giving circles that represent 20,000 donors, “and now has reached what lots of us believe is a tipping point.”

Orchid Giving Circle, a Texas Women’s Foundation group, recently granted $219,500 to 14 community organizations in Texas. (Photo Credit: Orchid Giving Circle)

As the article reminds us, giving circles have quadrupled over the last decade, and the majority of the activity in the movement is women-led. Much of it is also focused on giving to women and girls, such as Project W, the giving circle featured in the Philly Inquirer article.

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Joining Forces To Empower Women in Senegal

Local girls enjoy clean water from a rehabilitated well in Senegal. Photo Credit: CREATE! (@createsenegal)

Where are the effects of climate change felt the strongest?

West Africa shoulders some of the heaviest impacts created by climate change, particularly in communities where families live off the land. Many communities in Sub-Saharan Africa have laid claim to lush, verdant farmlands for hundreds or thousands of years—but today, those families find themselves fighting against the very land they’ve called home for generations.

Between desert encroachment, deforestation, and the effects of a rising global temperature, rural populations in Senegal experience some of the worst effects of climate change. Farming families struggle to cope with a shorter growing season, while communities across the continent suffer from a shortage of clean water, food, and fuel.

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New Microgrants Cultivate Collective Giving

Members of the co-design team working to grow the power and amplification of giving circles. (Photo credit: Catalist)

On August 20, 2019, an initiative to connect and catalyst the field of giving circles announced their intention to donate $32,000 to collective giving organizations. The funds, distributed in thirteen microgrants ranging from $500 to $5,000, will go toward circles and networks that “showcase, scale, strengthen, and sustain the field of collective giving. 

This initiative is born out of a yearlong co-design process spearheaded by the organizations Amplifier, Asian Women’s Giving Circle, Catalist, Community Investment Network, and Latino Community Foundation. 

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Refresh and Pour Into One Another: Black Women Giving in Omaha

Grant recipients for the IBBGives first round of grants in 2018. (Photo credit: IBBGives)

Editor’s Note: This post was written by the I Be Black Girl Collective, and is shared on Philanthropy Women during Black Philanthropy Month in order to highlight local efforts across the country to grow Black Philanthropy.

“We know that the people most affected by an issue are not the people making the decisions around solutions,” said Ashlei Spivey, co-founder of I Be Black Girl, a collective of Black women in Omaha, Nebraska. “IBBGives is a space that allows everyday Black women, no matter their association, to invest in their community.”

I Be Black Girl (IBBG) is a collective for Black women and girls in the Omaha metro; its founding is modeled after the work of bell hooks. IBBG organically came to fruition after a Facebook post by Ashlei Spivey that called for Black women to get together to refresh and pour into one another. Based on the overwhelming response, IBBG formally became a collective in 2017, offering networking sessions and leadership development programming. 

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Discussion of Unstoppable Giving Circles Keeps On Expanding

Ms. Magazine, one of the oldest and wisest feminist publications in the world, recently shared work that originated from Philanthropy Women. (Image Credit: Ms. Magazine)

It’s great news when one of the oldest and largest feminist publishers decides to share your micropublishing work. This week, Ms. Magazine shared an article by Julia Travers on the growing giving circle movement.

I feel like I could write a whole memoir on Ms. Magazine and its influence in my life, but I’ll save that for another day. Right now, I just want to thank this most venerable feminist media institution for their support, and acknowledge Julia Travers for her unique talent in writing about this subject.

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New Latina Giving Circle Debuts at Texas Women’s Foundation

Pictured from left to right: Linda Valdez-Thompson, H100 Network President Elect, Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Texas Women’s Foundation President and CEO, Patricia Rodriguez Christian, H100 Giving Circle Chair, and Cris Zertuche-Wong, H100 Giving Circle Grants Committee Chair. (Photo Credit: Kim Leeson)

An excellent new development in the giving circle realm: The H100 Latina Giving Circle recently launched at the Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF). It was formed by the Hispanic 100 Network to further engage Latinas in philanthropy, and expand resources for local organizations empowering, educating and supporting Latinas.

H100 joins three other TWF hosted giving circles: Orchid Giving Circle, HERitage Giving Fund and The Village Giving Circle. The Hispanic 100 Network—founded in 1996 by prominent Dallas/Fort Worth area Latinas in business, education, arts, health, politics and community leadership—is helping launch the Circle by providing $50,000 in matching funds.

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Founded in Diversity, Texas Women’s Foundation Expands with Participatory Approach

Roslyn Dawson Thompson, President and CEO, Texas Women’s Foundation. (Photo credit: TWF)

Here in the Northeast, we don’t tend to envision Texas as having a culture of diversity and women’s empowerment. But Texas is actually one of the most diverse states in the union. Currently, 68% of women ages 15 to 24 are women of color. The reality for the biggest state in the union is that the minority is the majority among young people. Texas is also home to one of the country’s largest women’s foundations, the Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF). Previously known as the Dallas Women’s Foundation, in 2018, it rebranded as a statewide endeavor with plans to increase its impact across all regions of the Lone Star State.

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Power Up! Women Collective Givers Meet In Washington, 2020

Image: Catalist members Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Laura Midgley, Colleen Willoughby, Jenny Berg, Paula Liang, Virginia Mills, Susan Benford and Hali Lee (Photo credit: Catalist)

Big news for giving circle members and fans: The Catalist 2020 National Conference will be held from Feb. 23 to the 25 in Seattle, Washington. Catalist is a network and umbrella organization for women’s collective-giving grantmaking organizations. The conference will be hosted at the Motif Hotel by the Washington Women’s Foundation (WaWF), a Catalist member organization that will be celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The WaWF is a fitting host for the 2020 conference, because it was launched by Catalist founding board member Colleen Willoughby in 1995. And, in 2009, Willoughby brought together collective giving leaders from across the U.S., spurring the creation of the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN), now Catalist.

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Why Feminist Philanthropy Matters

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, editor and publisher of Philanthropy Women, discusses the past, present, and future of PW.

Quite a lot has happened in just a year’s time here at Philanthropy Women. We thought it would be helpful to let readers know about how this initiative is changing and evolving.

The impact of Philanthropy Women has increased significantly. Now in our second year, our writers, including myself, are more experienced and able to explore subjects more deeply and make more connections. Our amplification of content on social media has also increased. We are receiving more requests for media coverage, and our content has been sought for republication on high visibility venues. We have been able to attract top talent for writers, including Julia Travers, Laura Dorwart, Maggie May, and Tim Lehnert.

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