Giving Circles Gather to Talk Success, Challenges, and Passion

Time. Talent. Treasure. Testimony.

These are the guiding philanthropic principles on which Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP) stand as they advance the traditions and legacy of giving in the African American community. NGAAP and members of other giving circles whose funds are administered by Triangle Community Foundation gathered June 29 to share stories of success and struggle in collective giving. The Foundation extends process, research, and grantmaking assistance to these funds in their efforts to make a difference in their communities.

But even more so the Foundation believes in the power of collective giving at its core, and in building strong leaders who represent the community, who will make an impact. The gathering was the first of its kind for circles who partner with the Foundation.

“This type of event energizes us,” stated Ken Perry of the A Legacy of Tradition (A LOT) circle. Foundation staff recognized that energy right away at the gathering as networking and celebrations of each other’s work got underway.

Like individual or family philanthropy, pooled giving can be meaningful and impactful when there is genuine interest in addressing issues and meeting the needs of those in distressed and marginalized communities. What does it take? Just one grant at a time.

“Any small amount is helpful!” said Diane Amato of The Art of Giving, or TAG, co-administered by the Foundation and the North Carolina Community Foundation. Each circle’s fund is advised by its members or a sub-set of its members. Grants are recommended by the advisors, which sometimes includes a grants committee made up of circle members, and approved and processed by the Foundation for eligible nonprofits doing work in the interest area chosen by the circle. “Philanthropy within reach” as one member described it.

But this type of collective philanthropy has its challenges, including circle sustainability, grantmaking expertise, and general training. Members often also face the challenge of communicating the true value of collective giving to foundations and community members alike. Many circles contribute beyond the grant check, volunteering with grantees or helping to connect them with other resources.

On the other side of struggle is the reason circles are formed to begin with: passion. Many of the circle members echoed the same sentiments about their passion for giving at this gathering. The convening is one of the ways that the Foundation aims to support philanthropy in the Triangle – by bringing people together who are working strategically for a thriving region. As Perry advised, “Keep doing the work! When the fund is low, use your time and talent!” There’s more than one way to give, right?