Pamela Cook and Patricia Stirling established a giving circle in the San Francisco Bay area in 2006. The development consultants wanted to use their nonprofit experience for greater impact.
According to New Ventures in Philanthropy, “A giving circle is a pooled charitable fund…through which members make grants together. …Donors combine their philanthropic resources with colleagues and friends who share a common interest in a social cause or issue.”
Cook and Stirling recruited 11 members (including themselves) with a white paper, while one mutual friend asked to join. The Caridad Partners include members from both the nonprofit and profit sectors and feature lawyers, MBA holders and persons interested in international issues. They speak Mandarin, French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. They are married, single and divorced.
“Setting up the giving circle was easier and more fun than either Patricia or I had anticipated,” says Cook.
Each member offers $2500 yearly for a total of $30,000. The deadline is June 30 and members can make their contributions directly via check, securities, credit card or donor advised find.
The group funds two projects: Freedom from Hunger is an organization that fights against chronic hunger and poverty and NamasteDirect assists poor women in Central America with first-time loans to start new businesses or help existing ones.
The Caridad Partners hold four formal meetings each year in which they basically make decisions and listen to representatives from the funded groups. The meetings take place at a member home and a buffet-style dinner is served.
They also conduct informal gatherings where they have attended the Global Philanthropy Forum, Institute of International Education and the International Museum of Women dinners and lectures of the World Affairs Council, plus hosted a brunch.
The Caridad Partners seek to visit one or both of the sponsored projects in 2008.
“Our hope is that it (the giving circle) will continue to thrive,” Cook says. “That it will be seen by its members as a valuable and enjoyable resource and that our collective charitable giving will have a lasting impact in the communities and lives we are supporting.”