PHOTO: OJCF’s Giving Council in 2017
What is a giving circle? Essentially, a giving circle is a group of people who come together to pool their charitable dollars and decide together where to donate their money. Pooling contributions enables individuals who might not be able to make a significant contribution on their own to be part of a major gift. It’s empowering for all involved.
However, giving circles are about more than just making charitable contributions. They provide participants with the opportunity to learn about nonprofit programs and needs locally and abroad. Also, being a part of a giving circle can provide individuals with the chance to examine their personal values and better understand how these values connect with the causes and issues they care about. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, giving circles build community among the individuals involved and strengthen the connection between the participants and the community in which they live.
Giving circles come in all shapes and sizes. They can bring together people based on affinity, age or stage of life, issue area and geographic region. The Oregon Jewish Community Foundation currently has one giving circle. Launched in January 2016, the Giving Council is a collaborative giving program for Jewish individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Participants contribute a minimum of $500 to be a voting member of the circle, and OJCF’s Community Endowment Fund supplements the dollars contributed. Since its start, there have been three cohorts of the Giving Council, and they have collectively granted $63,000 to Jewish and general nonprofits in Oregon, Southwest Washington and abroad.
The Giving Council is currently recruiting new members for its fourth cohort, which will begin meeting in January 2019. Contact Sonia Marie Leikam, OJCF’s collaborative giving program coordinator, for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-248-9328.
Gail Mandel is the director of philanthropy at the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation.