By Katherine Readey Chilcote
If you wanted to jump in and start your own giving circle, it is not a difficult thing to do first of all. I will say that people who’ve engaged with us have gone off and done some of their own versions of what we do. There are things as simple as have a dinner party and have everyone bring $50.00 with them and make a decision at the end of that party of where you want that money to.
1. ) Gather Like-Minded Friends
If you want to do something slightly more formal, and I hate to think about what we do as formal but I guess it is more formal than just getting friends together, I would start there. I would start with getting a group of people who you think are like minded and interested in making some kind of impact.
2.) Determine Manageable Yet Meaningful Dollar Amounts
And then, a big thing that we hashed through was what the dollar amount should be. What actually makes sense? We wanted to raise enough money that it would be meaningful. We knew we weren’t going to raise millions of dollars but we were hoping to get around the $20,000.00 mark or somewhere in there. A lot of it is a combination of the amount and then the number of members. So for us the amount that made sense was that $400.00 a year which we felt was manageable and the people who were at the table initially worked for nonprofits, they were not people commanding huge salaries, so it was manageable but yet meaningful.
3.) Invest By Topics Or Variety?
Some organizations give based on a topic area. They decide this year they want to give to an organization doing education and next year we’re going to give to an organization doing environmental practices. The Colectivo hasn’t ever subscribed to that because we really like the variety. We like the idea of being able to give to lots of organizations that hit lots of different civic areas and are engaged in different ways. We’ve given to community gardening, we’ve given to education, we’ve given to for profits, arts organizations - really, the whole gamut. We just personally like having that variety. But, sometimes it’s easier to organize yourself around a topic area so that’s an approach you could take.
4.) Fiscal Agent Financial Administration
One of the things we were able to establish fairly early on and we were lucky because we had a member of our founding group that worked for this organization, we were able to create a relationship with a fiscal agent. The money that we give into our pool is actually held at this fiscal organization. It’s called International Mission. The CEO is actually a member of the Colectivo and their organization lined up really well with us because as an organization they do the same work we do except for collectives in South America and Central America. So they give money and resources to a lot of times women owned businesses trying to create their own cooperatives. They’ll have a business trying to generate some revenue for themselves. That has been a huge boon for us because they already got what we were doing and we were able to house our money with them and then they take care of cutting the checks to our grantees at the time that that happens. I’m sure there are other ways too, like bank accounts, but it’s been really nice to have that fiscal agent who is already in the process of doing that kind of work and can handle that administrative side for us. It’s been a huge help to our sustainability.
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