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  • Monday, April 25, 2022 1:03 PM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)


    By Maggie Glasgow
    Philanos Chair-elect

    Many giving circles are created by and/or reside within a foundation – a community foundation, a woman’s foundation, a private foundation, or some other regional or national foundation.  The reasons are many, and the benefits can be mutually rewarding.  Circles who have been in longstanding relationships with their foundation offer the following reasons to affiliate:

    • No legal expense to create separate legal standing as a 501 (c) 3.
    • No accounting expense for separate financial audits.
    • No need to obtain separate insurance, especially liability for events.
    • Back-office support, from invoicing to member databases to grants, is available (even if you pay a fee) freeing you up to work on impact.
    • Foundation can professionally manage your assets, especially if you have an endowment or money held over time.
    • Foundation staff are knowledgeable about the philanthropic landscape in your community with wisdom to share.
    • Foundation may have other funds or funders who can and will collaborate with you.
    • Reputation of the foundation rubs off on you.
    • If the foundation holds you close and actively promotes and fosters what you do, it is an amazing asset to your mission.

    Why, then, is not every giving circle hosted?  Less than half of the Philanos affiliates are hosted, and the issue of hosted vs. independent 501 (c) 3 status remains a perennial topic for webinars, conferences, the member forum and questions to our board members.  The truth is, in every relationship, problems crop up.  Some can be resolved with hard work and new understandings.  Others dissolve and a breakup occurs.  Where are the pressure points – the place where relationships between host and giving circle can crack?

    • Money.  The relationship is, by nature, transactional.  Somewhere, somehow, an administrative fee for operations will have to be paid.  Depending on how large your group and how much the foundation does for you, your members (or special donors) will have to pay.
    • Money.  How are you charged for what you are getting?  Flat fee, surcharge, percentages?  Most foundations charge a percentage (usually 2-1/2 to 4%) to manage donor advised funds.  If you have an endowment and the foundation manages that as well, they may charge the fee on whichever is larger—your assets or your grants.
    • MOU.  Have a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that is crystal clear.  It needs to be updated when things change, and it’s recommended that you also review it regularly every 3-5 years.
    • Ownership. If you were created under a foundation, they own your name/brand unless otherwise stated in an MOU.  If you create an endowment under your foundation, they own those assets, which they can keep even if you are no longer an organization.  The legacy of your assets should be spelled out in your MOU.
    • Technology. If you share technology platforms, make sure you are part of the contract for updates and service.   Realize that shared platforms can reduce your overall operating costs, but your needs and the contracts need to be carefully minded.
    • People.  Relationships between you and the foundation are built on trust and understanding over time.  Be proactive whenever there are key personnel changes at the foundation and anticipate time spent on fostering new relationships.   Likewise, each new leadership team of your circle needs to spend time getting to know the foundation staff.
    • Expectations.  What do you expect the foundation to help you with in fostering your circle and what, in fact, are they willing and able to do?  Conversely, what does the foundation expect from you in terms of access to your membership for marketing their products and services?
    • Communication.   Crucial to everything already listed, but even more critical in terms of public facing communiques.  When your circle and the foundation are in sync, the host sees your work as integral to their mission (and vice versa).

    Recently, Susan Benford, Chair of Philanos, began collecting information for peer-to-peer sharing from circles who were transitioning from a hosted status with their community foundations to becoming their own independent 501 (c) 3.   Two affiliates, the Roanoke Women’s Foundation (RWF), Roanoke, VA, and Del Mar Women’s Giving Collective (DMWGC), Del Mar, CA, participated in documenting their stories.  Kathy Stockburger of RWF and Lani Curtis of DMWGC each shared insights with us as to how their journey unfolded.   Their responses to a series of questions reveals lessons learned in forging new paths.

    What motivated your transition from being hosted to securing 501 (c) 3 status and how long did it take?

    RWF transitioned from a field of interest (FOI) fund at the Roanoke Community Foundation because of a desire to be autonomous, based primarily on financial considerations.  The group was doing most of their own administrative work already and felt they could reduce costs charged to them by the foundation related to events, office supplies, software, etc.  They also wanted to allow their members full donations to be tax deductible (including the admin fee).  Finally, they listed a concern about grant allocation decisions needing approval by the foundation.  Although they had never had a grant decision overturned, hypothetically the foundation had that power.  RWF board members recall the topic of becoming a separate entity had been mentioned on occasion in the past, but it wasn’t until 2020 that the board spent an entire year in study and discussion before voting on the transition.  The final process was smooth and relatively quick – they applied for status in December of 2020 and received the IRS determination letter in April of 2021.

    DMWGC transitioned from a donor advised fund (DAF) at the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation.  They were the second women’s giving circle that foundation agreed to host, but shortly after taking them on, the foundation said they could no longer process any of their administrative expenses. They felt the decision was made for them by the foundation, and they had to become their own 501 (c) 3 if they wanted to continue to operate.  They did so quite quickly, between November 2019 and January 2020.  They also received a grant from a local business to help them set up.  Lani Curtis shared that their members immediately realized the full tax benefit of their donations, and the circle felt that the new status gave them greater legitimacy when recruiting prospective members.

    While a member of the foundation what actions had the host performed for your circle?

    Since Roanoke had a longer standing relationship than Del Mar with their foundation, the RWF reported that the foundation had had handled member donations and reconciliation for granting, maintained a member data base, sent tax receipt letters, approved allocations for grantees, and originally shared software. 

    DMWGC stated that RSF Foundation had originally collected their donations and distributed grants as voted on by their own advisory council, distributed tax receipts to members and reimbursed approved expenses to members or vendors.

    How was the change communicated to members?

    Both organizations said they communicated directly with membership.  Since Roanoke had more time for their process, they communicated when they first had the idea years prior, during the year of study by the board, and to a greater extent when the board decided to move on it.  Communications included benefits as well as challenges, and occurred in newsletters, direct mail, and virtual events. 

    Del Mar communicated once the advisory council decision was made and got no pushback.  It was a very minimal change for their members, just a different donor name on their check.

    How much did it cost to attain a 501 (c) 3 ruling?

    Roanoke paid attorney’s and filing fees of about $2,000.  Del Mar paid about $1,000, but a member attorney did the work pro bono.

    What new expenses do you anticipate your circle will have?

    RWF anticipates about $1,000 in annual insurance costs, including risk mitigation for social events; increased accounting fees (including filing 990) of up to $5,000, software fee of $6,500 annually, and administrative costs for website, IT, stationery, postage that were not estimated.

    DMWGC has, so far, only had the filing costs.  They are a small circle, relatively new, and are still absorbing costs through volunteer help.

    What was most helpful in making the transition?  What was most challenging?

    Roanoke felt that their intentionality and adequate study beforehand paid off, as well as having knowledgeable legal guidance.  Keeping major stakeholders, like founders and board members, informed and engaged was important.

    The challenges for the RWF included following regulations in a timely manner, becoming very scrupulous in document retention, financial reports, anything to do with the tax-exempt status, and knowing which nonprofit benefit entities to join.

    Del Mar felt that their biggest challenge was that the transition was out of necessity, not a decision they had originally planned to make.  They are a new group with younger members who are actively involved in work and childrearing, so they do not feel as if they have a deep bench of working volunteers to do the heavy lifting of running a nonprofit.  They are currently actively seeking a working relationship with another foundation.

    What sort of relationship do you retain with your former host?

    RWF reports they remain on excellent terms with their previous host, the Roanoke Community Foundation.  Immediately after their departure they hosted an appreciation luncheon for the foundation staff to cement those feelings and that relationship.  Since leaving, RWF has embarked on a strategic planning process to provide new structure that will allow them to be sustainable and resource their administrative costs.

    Kathy Stockburger, a nonprofit consultant, and member of Roanoke Women’s Foundation, sums up their new status in this way: 

                “We are carefully straddling the line between resourcing our costs to do what we do – allocate over $350k annually – and not be perceived as competition by our grantees.  We are not a fundraising organization and feel strongly that we need to navigate this prudently.  We can, however, accept gifts beyond our member donations, engage sponsors for events, and explore a friends-type gift initiative for those who do not wish to become members… There is no model fitting every giving group.  Plan strategically.  It is a lot of work.”

  • Wednesday, April 13, 2022 11:19 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    Leading Women’s Giving Circle Network
    Announces Three New Board Members

    Philanos, the leading women’s giving circle network in the U.S., announces three newly elected board members comprised of women who are members of Philanos affiliate organizations.

    “The Philanos board welcomes these women whose talents, skills, knowledge and experiences will be welcome additions to our board’s continued growth,” says Gwen Wesley, Chair of Nominations.

    Amy Conard
    Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, St. Louis, MO

    Amy Conard is the Technology Chair and Board member for Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund.  She has led a technology transition over the past three years to implement new software, consolidate systems and increase access for members to manage their information and access resources.

    After a successful corporate career in Information Technology, she now consults with nonprofits to help them be more efficient and effective by leveraging software. The consulting work includes assessing the needs, identifying software options, and providing recommendations on solutions and implementation. She also mentors women technical leaders and volunteers in a food pantry and at the International Institute. 

    Amy has an MBA from Washington University and an aerospace engineering degree from Princeton University.  She has two sons, Jacob and Peter, who regularly remind her how much taller they are.

    Heather Jauregui
    Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation, Boise, ID

    Heather has been a leadership volunteer for multiple nonprofit and charitable organizations. Her career has been in the nonprofit sector leading teams and philanthropy programs. An active member of IWCF since 2005, and a director for seven years, Heather has served in many leadership roles at IWCF, including president, vice president, and symposium chair. Heather has a MS in education for Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a BS in business from Santa Clara University. She’s been honored as one of the Idaho Business Review’s Accomplished “40 Under 40” in 2003. An Idaho native, Heather resides in Boise with her husband and has three adult stepchildren.

    Ann Marie McGee
    Impact 100 Redwood Circle, Santa Rosa, CA

    Ann Marie McGee is a member of Impact 100 Redwood Circle where she co-chaired the Marketing Committee for four years. Moving to Sonoma County in 2017, she joined Impact 100 Redwood Circle to learn more about nonprofits in the North Bay and quickly embraced the collective giving model and its importance for women to support their communities.

    She is currently a board member for the Santa Rosa Symphony where she serves on the Donor Relations Committee.  Prior nonprofit board experience includes Brighter Beginnings and Northern Light School, both in Oakland and the Contra Costa Crisis Center in Walnut Creek. She has also served on numerous advisory/advancement committees for the University of Idaho. As a National Volunteer for Tri Delta sorority, Ann Marie currently serves on the Volunteer Engagement Committee focused on quality leadership experiences for national coordinator and committee chair positions.

    Prior to retiring and relocating to Sonoma County, Ann Marie had her own marketing consulting firm, specializing in branding, messaging and positioning services for startup/early-stage technology companies. Her consultancy was preceded by stints at several technology startups in Silicon Valley, including GRiD Systems where she was the Marketing Manager for the industry’s first tablet computer. Before her tech career, she taught music at Arkansas State University and Interlochen National Music Camp and was a member of the Arkansas Symphony. Ann Marie holds Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in flute performance from the University of Idaho and the University of Illinois.

    Ann Marie lives in Santa Rosa with her husband Robert where they enjoy learning about food and wine, gardening, traveling and spending time with their two children and a granddaughter. When not volunteering, she enjoys cooking, playing her flute, watercolor painting, tennis, and golf.

    Philanos is a philanthropic network of women’s funds, foundations and giving circles that grants collectively into their own communities. Philanos accelerates women’s philanthropic giving by providing resources to its members to increase their impact. Philanos believes that communities with women’s collective giving circles are healthier, safer, more equitable and thriving. The network is comprised of women and those who identify as women. Philanos represents over 17,500 women in 80 affiliates in the U.S. and abroad who have collectively infused over $146M into their respective communities through their collective giving organizations.

  • Thursday, March 03, 2022 11:38 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    Gillian Hund OAM, Patricia Burke OAM (Co-Founders) &
    Christine Darcas (Executive Officer) of 
    Melbourne Women's Fund

    MWF enables members to be part of informed, democratized giving where their power is amplified through the collective benefit they provide to vulnerable women and families in Melbourne.

    We recently spoke to Patricia, Christine and Gillian to hear their thoughts on their current efforts!

    What’s the most interesting effort your circle is focusing on right now?

    Re-energizing and reconnecting the members and supporters of our Melbourne Women’s Fund community after living in the most locked-down city in the world over 2020 and 2021. Although we survived those two years reasonably well, it required an agile, yet time-consuming, reorientation in our approach that couldn’t entirely compensate for the joy and satisfaction our members value from in-person socializing and networking. We are now re-directing our efforts to provide those opportunities, which is exciting and liberating!

    What is something your circle is currently challenged by?

    Sustaining the caliber of our management. The term ‘Giving Circle’ can sound simplistic and belie the complexity involved in keeping a 100% volunteer-led organization running smoothly across areas that include an informed and collaborative grants process, marketing, events, governance, financial management, membership engagement, Next Gen and partnership/sponsorship—all underpinned by a solid three-year strategic plan. We’ve been very fortunate in having a devoted team. But life can get in the way for any of us, so we have to stay on the lookout for potential compatible volunteers and do what we can to keep them.

    What Philanos resource has been most helpful to you this year, and why?

    There isn’t one resource. Overall, it is great to know that Philanos is there to turn to. Even though we’re on the other side of the world, the Philanos webinars during Covid were just as relevant for us. Its reservoir of giving circle-related research is useful as well. We look forward to being able to attend the next conference (the strategic planning session at the 2020 conference was a game-changer for us in particular). You’ll be seeing us again!

  • Friday, February 11, 2022 1:42 PM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    Bridget Dunn
    Co-president
    The Philanthropy Connection

    TPC inspires and enables a community of women to learn, grow, and engage in collective giving to support nonprofit organizations that address systemic inequities impacting individuals and families within the greater Boston area.

    We recently spoke to Bridget and invited her thoughts on their current efforts!

    What’s the most interesting effort your circle is focusing on right now?

    In 2021, TPC rolled out a new four-tier membership investment structure. This updated membership framework creates a new membership entry point at $300 and allows all members to choose the contribution level most comfortable for their financial situation. All members receive the same privileges and voting rights, and are equally welcome to participate in our programming and grant making processes. In less than a year this new structure has resulted in a higher number of total members and several lapsed members rejoining. TPC is working to become a more equitable, inclusive organization and this new membership structure allows us to live those values.

    What is something your circle is currently challenged by?

    TPC is seeking to incorporate the principles of Trust-Based Philanthropy (TBP) in our grant making. This has required re-thinking some of our grant making processes and challenging ourselves to incorporate new ideas. Some tangible changes we have made towards this end have included:

    • Changing all grants to be unrestricted funds
    • Completely rewriting our application and rubric to emphasize principles of TBP and reduce the burden on applicants
    • Allowing applicants to submit applications they wrote for other opportunities
    • Waiving grantee reporting requirements and strengthening our liaison program to communicate with grantees in a less demanding way

    The work is not yet done and we are continuing to look inward as an organization and have hard conversations about how we can better exemplify the values of TBP.

    What Philanos resource has been most helpful to you this year, and why?

    We found the Philanos chat boards to be very beneficial as we’ve researched and incorporated these changes. We were able to gain valuable insights about how other groups have structured their memberships and went on to meet with leaders from those groups in very helpful and informative sessions. Additionally, as we explored opportunities for offering multi-year grants, participants in the chat forums offered us valuable insights into how their group accomplished this and led to several excellent 1:1 conversations. We are always grateful for the willingness of other Philanos organizations to share their wisdom and insights with us.

  • Friday, January 21, 2022 10:16 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    Beverly, Diane, Mary, & Susan
    Co-Chairs of Greenville Women Giving

    GWG works collectively to identify and fund nonprofit organizations in the areas of arts, education, environment, health and human services in Greenville County, SC.

    We recently spoke to Susan Cinquemani, Mary Hipp, Diane Perlmutter, and Beverly Ward, GWG Co-chairs and invited their thoughts on their current efforts!

    What’s the most interesting effort your circle is focusing on right now?

    One of the areas of our focus right now is our membership and membership committee. As our membership grew to over 500, we realized the need for a more dedicated effort in the areas of both new member growth/recruitment and current member engagement. Both areas require time and different approaches. After brainstorming and discussions, we decided to split our membership committee into two committees: Membership Engagement and Membership Growth.  Each committee has its own unique leadership, members, and duties. This year, beginning September 2021, is our first year with this two membership committee structure.

    What is something your circle is currently challenged by?

    Our biggest challenge is managing the ever-changing Covid situation.  We responded quickly in March 2020, moving to virtual events for our education sessions, grant selection, and annual meeting. In Fall 2021, we held successful hybrid events. It continues to take significant time for our leadership team as we are currently modifying plans based on Omicron's impact.

    What Philanos resource has been most helpful to you this year, and why?

    The availability of webinars for the GWG board and membership has been the most helpful Philanos resource.

  • Tuesday, January 04, 2022 1:02 PM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    We are excited for 2022! 

    5 ways Philanos Affiliates can learn, share and engage:

    1. Philanos Learning: We have numerous, regular virtual gatherings planned for affiliates to learn together, including our monthly webinars and Affiliate Comms Club gatherings – mark your calendar!

    2. Philanos Sharing: We invite you to share your latest news, ask and/or answer questions in the Member Forums, and let us know about your recent media mentions – send us your latest news so we can promote it and engage with your colleagues!

    3. Philanos Leadership: We encourage you to get further involved in Philanos through committee and/or Board leadership. We are only as strong as the individual affiliates that support our sustainability and growth – we need you!

    4. Philanos Celebration: We are honored to celebrate our individual affiliate and collective network successes through the Willoughby and Spotlight  Awards this fall – nominate the women and grants that have made an impact!

    5. Philanos Partnership: We are excited to strengthen and grow our partnerships with and among our network partners, and other collective giving and philanthropic networks for the benefit of our organization and individual affiliates – we are stronger together!

    We look forward to continued learning, sharing, celebrating, partnership and growth as we focus on building and supporting the women’s collective giving movement.

    Have something to add? Let us know! Email us with any other thoughts about Philanos in 2022.

  • Friday, December 17, 2021 11:40 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    Elaine McCormick
    Chairwoman of Impact 100 Richmond, Virginia

    Impact 100 Richmond is committed to creating positive change in Metro Richmond through high-impact, life-long, transformational grantmaking.

    We recently spoke to Elaine and invited her thoughts on their current efforts!

    What’s the most interesting effort your circle is focusing on right now?

    Every 5-6 years we form a Strategic Planning Committee to help us evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. This committee tackles some pretty big issues that our giving circle has neither the time nor resources to address during the everyday running of Impact 100. The goal is to look at our organization objectively and strategically to determine if we are still operating under our initial mission, whether our goals and/or objectives have shifted over time, and whether changes are needed to set us up for success over the next 5-6 years.

    What is something your circle is currently challenged by?

    We work closely with our local Community Foundation, who is our fiscal sponsor. When changes happen within their organization they affect us directly, and this year we had to migrate to a new website and database and adapt to staffing changes at the Community Foundation, all while kicking off our giving season!  It was a steep learning curve, but everyone came together and we launched our campaign with only minor delays. In the long run, the new system will provide us with more information about our donors and help us become better fundraisers for our local nonprofits.

    What Philanos resource has been most helpful to you this year, and why?

    The monthly webinars are wonderful!  It is so helpful to hear how other circles are dealing with the same issues that we are grappling with.

  • Monday, December 13, 2021 8:36 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    Philanos 2021 – Year in Review

    It’s been a challenging year as we continue to be affected by the global pandemic, racial and social injustice, and political upheaval. And, it’s been a successful year for our individual giving circles and our collective giving movement as we’ve attempted to address and support these and other issues in our local communities, and together as a cohesive network.

    Here are highlights of our collective efforts this year:

    1. Philanos Affiliate Membership Growth – 75+ affiliate members collectively learning and sharing to strengthen our network.

    2. Philanos Affiliate Collective Giving Growth –  Our 75+ affiliates have collectively given over $175M.

    3. Philanos Leadership Growth – 6 new Board members helping to lead and grow our organization for the future.

    4. Philanos Network Partnership Growth – 3 networks in order to continue to learn, share, organize, and connect the broader collective giving field.

    5. Philanos Collective Communicating – growth of the Philanos marketing and communications efforts, including our strong social media platform to highlight the good work of Philanos, our affiliate members, partners, the collective giving movement, and philanthropy overall.

    6. Philanos Collective Learning – 8 webinars that focused on membership, communication, governance, and grantmaking and that had an overall attendance of 600+.

    7. Philanos Collective Sharing – 4 Comms Club gatherings that encouraged learning and sharing among those interested in all things communications.

    8. Philanos Collective Celebrating – We continued to celebrate the groundbreaking work of Colleen S. Willoughby and the inspiration she has brought to so many women and philanthropists through our inaugural Willoughby Award and Spotlight Award recipients. 

    9. Philanos Communities of Practice – 13 Philanos affiliates participated in our 3 DEI Affinity Groups.

    10. Philanos and Philanthropy Together – Numerous Philanos affiliates have participated in Philanthropy Together efforts, including the PhT Global We Give Summit, Racial Equity Community of Practice, Storytelling Community of Practice, and Launchpad Start-up Groups.

    We look forward to continued learning, sharing, celebrating, partnership and growth as we focus on building and supporting the women’s collective giving movement.

    Have something to add? Let us know! Email us with any other thoughts about Philanos in 2021.

  • Friday, December 03, 2021 9:51 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    Martha Cukor and Susan Perl
    Co-chairs
    The Baltimore Women's Giving Circle 

    Through collective giving and collaboration, BWGC seeks to empower women and their families in the greater Baltimore area to achieve self-sufficiency.

    We recently spoke to Martha and Susan and invited their thoughts on their current efforts!

    What’s the most interesting effort your circle is focusing on right now?

    This is very hard to answer because we have so many things going on simultaneously.  Because we have to name only one project, it would be the real effort the Membership Committee is making to learn from other Giving Circles and other organizations how to attract younger members.  The committee has come up with lots of ideas, some seemingly obvious directions in which to go, others which will take more serious discussion and investigation. This is an endeavor in which we must succeed, or we will not exist in the future.

    What is something your circle is currently challenged by?

    As with many giving circles and organizations across the country, the BWGC has been investigating issues around racial diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The circle and the committee are challenged by how best to proceed and has tried to learn from other organizations.  Start with a small group and then include the rest of the circle?  Come to conclusions in the committee and present ideas for a vote, or include the entire circle in the full process?  What does education look like for the circle?  These are just some of the challenges.

    What Philanos resource has been most helpful to you this year, and why?

    The webinars are the most helpful to the Circle Co-Chairs, while at least one affinity group is helpful to a committee, with more expected in the near future.

    Side note: We at the BWGC find Philanos tremendously helpful for our work, and we thank you for all you do.

  • Tuesday, November 23, 2021 7:17 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

    We are stronger together!

    Philanos is at its best when it reflects the diverse voices of women committed to collaborating with others nationally to further the collective giving movement. With sister organizations throughout the United States, Australia and Europe, together we are impacting communities for the better.

    Please consider joining our virtual team. Participating provides excellent opportunities for networking and utilizing your leadership skills. We have positions open on committees and the Board of Directors. Please refer to the various board job descriptions and criteria. Want to talk to someone about the experience?  Email info@philanos.org and we will make that happen!  

    Nominations Are Open for National Positions!

    Philanos Board of Directors

    Governance Committee

    Submission Deadline: Friday, February 4, 2022

    Affiliate Engagement and Expansion Committee - AE&E (description) identifies prospective affiliates, welcomes new affiliates, and works to share affiliate needs within our organization. Questions?

    Communications Committee (descriptionmanages the overall  marketing and communications for the organization. It is a great place to meet and work with women across the country. We are looking for variety in voices and experiences so we can reflect everyone in the network.

    Education Committee (description) is responsible for producing all of our webinars. Help us keep up with the trends in collective giving and providing the education our affiliates seek.

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