“Your donation, however small, matters!” You’ve probably heard something like that from political fundraisers, sad animal commercials, friends on Facebook. Maybe you were moved by a picture or a slogan and clicked on one of those “Donate $5” buttons. You submitted your credit card to an online campaign, hoping it would do some good. But there are better ways to give.
There are some people – even young non-billionaires – who are getting the satisfaction of seeing their money make a real difference in their communities and in the world through another model of philanthropy: a giving circle.
Giving circles are groups of people who pledge to give a set annual donation, often around $1,000, and then work together to choose the recipients of their pooled money. Grants of, say, $10,000 can do a lot for a small nonprofit’s budget. It’s a very old-fashioned concept based on the way smaller communities used to help each other, but it’s gaining ground now, as more people seek ways to connect to each other and make changes in the face of overwhelming odds.
“Some people, when they hear the word ‘philanthropists,’ they think ‘rich, white old man,’ ” Masha Chernyak, vice president of programs and policy at the Latino Community Foundation, tells Refinery29. Others think of tech billionaires. “That’s not the case. It’s not just the Zuckerbergs,” she says.
Who Is giving?
“I grew up watching my immigrant parents donate their time and their money to support our church, our community, and other family members who were having difficult times,” says Janeth Medina, a DACA recipient who now works in banking and is a member of the San Francisco Latina Giving Circle. “I once supported a friend who was struggling to make her monthly installment for school. It was instilled in me to always help others.”