Bright and early on Wednesday, January 27th, women from all over the country joined Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Carmen Stevens of Women’s Giving Circles International (WGCI) for a collaborative workshop on collective giving.
Sondra opened the event by welcoming the attendees and speakers, and introducing the day’s topics.
“The power of women’s philanthropy has changed not only the countries we live in, but changed us as well,” she said.
Carmen Stevens on Global Giving Circles
Carmen Stevens introduced the history of WGCI, which works to provide educational resources for women all over the world looking to start and grow their own giving circles. Primarily focused on circles outside of the United States, WGCI facilitates circle creation, networking, and mentorship all over the globe, but particularly in Latin America, Europe, and the organization’s most recent programs in Asia.
On December 17, international funding powerhouse Women Moving Millions released their annual impact report, showcasing the organization’s work toward a gender-equal world over the past year. The report also includes WMM’s multi-pronged approach to the future, including the goal to double their financial impact by 2025.
Since its founding in 2007, Women Moving Millions has committed nearly $800 million to organizations supporting women and girls. The organization thrives as a collaborative group of 340+ high-net worth women around the world, all pledged to donate at least $1 million during their lifetimes.
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a new nearly two million dollar grant whose goal is to “advance actionable, global research on women’s giving to inform and equip donors and nonprofits.”
The funding will fuel WPI’s ongoing research on domestic and global women’s giving, and empower organizations, donors and fundraisers to put these research insights into practice. Since 2015, WPI has conducted research on gender and philanthropy that helps inform the foundation’s Giving By All initiative, which is focused on growing giving and helping donors give more effectively and strategically.
On July 16, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute hosted a live Q&A with Sara Lomelin of Philanthropy Together, to discuss the ways philanthropy can be democratized, empowered, and fueled by diversity. In light of current pressing issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19, WPI and Philanthropy Together seek to answer the question, “How can giving circles transform the future of trust-based giving?”
WPI Director Jeannie Sager kicked off the conversation by encouraging the participants to share their locations – people chimed in from all over the US and beyond.
Sager introduced the concept: “For too long, philanthropy has been seen as an exclusive club. Yet today, our country is experiencing a drastic reckoning… Who is called a philanthropist?”
By any measure, giving circles are one of the biggest growth areas in philanthropy. It’s no accident that giving circles are heavily female, and women of color are involved in giving circles at much higher rates than they are in traditional modes of philanthropic giving.
A simple giving circle definition from Philanthropy Together: “Giving Circles are groups of all shapes and sizes collaborating for change: like-minded individuals come together to pool their funds, share and discuss the issues that matter to them, and decide together where to give their money, time, and talents.” Giving circles enable individuals to leverage modest individual donations into a critical mass. They are by definition participatory, and the power of the collective provides individuals greater input and influence than were they giving in isolation.
Philanthropy Together places special emphasis on the role of traditionally underrepresented communities, noting:
Another Giving Tuesday is one for the books! According to the organization that created the international day of generosity, this year’s online and offline donations crushed a monumental milestone: almost $2 billion in donations in the United States alone, with $511 million in online donations.
“Generosity is a core trait and value that brings people of all races, faiths, and political views together,” said Asha Curran, Co-founder and CEO of GivingTuesday. “GivingTuesday creates a shared space where we can see the radical implications of a more generous world.”
More is going on in the giving circle arena than ever before, it appears. As those of you know who have been following along at Philanthropy Women, giving circles have increased dramatically over the past ten years and now are poised for an even bigger impact.
The giving circle co-design team, which consists of leaders from Amplifier, Asian Women’s Giving Circle, Catalist, Community Investment Network, and Latino Community Foundation, recently announced that they have secured a $2 million investment from anchor funding partner, theBill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With this support, they are working to fully launch “a suite of tools, programming, and support for networks, individual circles, host organizations, and other stakeholders,” according to an email to the community.
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 (i.e. giving circles) 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.
“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.”
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.
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.