Sustainability of Giving Circles: Part 2

14 07 2009

By: Hannah Kim

Aside from covering administrative costs, Colleen Willoughby, president of the Washington Women’s Foundation in Seattle, makes the following suggestion in Jessica E. Bearman’s report “More Giving Together: The Growth and Impact of Giving Circles and Shared Giving” for keeping giving circles sustainable:

“Keep founding board members in place for several years to build a solid culture for your organization. … If you bring in new people too early, you get new ideas. It can take your original concept in many different directions rather than establish the idea you had in mind. … I think that the value of institutional memory is a benefit to a new and growing organization.” (p.19)

Here are some other questions to address early on regarding sustainability, as we apply the recommendations in Bearman’s report to our Homeless Sponsorship Model (p.18):

  • How big do we want our giving circles to grow?
  • Exactly how much administrative cost will we need to cover per year?
  • How much volunteer work versus work by paid staff will be required?
  • What proportion of giving circle members will take a hands-off approach (where the only involvement is funding contribution), as opposed to greater engagement/interaction in supporting homeless clients?
  • How long must members be committed to the giving circle, especially if we plan on applying Willoughby’s value of institutional memory provided by founding members?



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