Step 1: Determine if you want to join an existing giving circle or develop one of your own
Consult the directory of collective giving group networks (see below in resources) to see if there is an existing one in your community that fits your values and budget, or if you want to create your own.
Step 2: Determine the cause(s) and establish your mission
Since giving groups are democratically arranged, they provide donors with an equal voice in deciding where their contributions go. Think about the causes that stir your passion, and then chat with community organizers with direct experience for ideas on how the giving circle can make a positive change.
Start simply with a single charity or designate a general category, such as women-focused charities, inner city youth, seniors or organizations dealing with income disparities. Most small giving circles find worthy causes on their own; some larger collective giving groups invite charities to apply for contributions. See the below Questions to Ask Agencies Before Donating, which may help you select a viable organization.
Step 3: Find members and create work groups
Select a group of your friends, co-workers, neighbors or family members who may share a common interest, explain the concept of a giving circle, and invite them to attend a first meeting to see if they’d like to participate. Set a date to host the meeting, so you can set up the circle’s structure.
The group may be as informal or as organized as everyone likes; remember that everyone has an equal voice. And make sure there is time for socializing too! Giving circles are a fun way to meet new women as well as spending time with old friends.
Considerations might include:
Step 4: Manage the money
The simplest way to manage the funds is for each member to write a personal check to the selected charity. Then you can present the set of checks together so the charity can track where the support came from. For larger organizations that you want to scale, you can organize as your own 501(c)3, organize under an existing foundation (that may charge you a management fee), or create an entity within one of the newer online organizing platforms (see resources below). This step is important for those who itemize their deductions, so that their donations are fully tax-deductible.
Step 5: Evaluate the Impact
Set milestones for your short-term and long-term goals on a regular basis. It is motivating to see exactly how your contributions can make a difference – in your community at large, and in the lives of individuals who participate. Don’t be surprised when your group members fall in love with an organization that they have met through this process and want to become more involved.
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