It is time we redefine the word “philanthropist” and extend its meaning to include a more realistic picture of who gives in the U.S. The tools and rewards of organized philanthropy are no longer solely in the hands of wealthy donors and their families. Philanthropy can be very exciting, especially when you can get together to give.
Here at LCF, we are launching our first intergenerational Latina Giving Circle.
It is 2012 and philanthropists come from all walks of life. Collective giving models are growing by the day and their power reaches far beyond the size of their donation. Individuals no longer need to be wealthy to be philanthropic. Even though women earn less money than men, they continue to give a higher percentage of their income and are leading the majority of the giving circles in the U.S.
According to Giving USA, in 2011 alone, total charitable giving approached $300 billion. Nearly $218 billion came from individuals.
So what is Philanthropy?
Philanthropy is the love of mankind that results in practical acts. Philanthropy is derived from the Greek words “philos”, which means loving and “anthropos” which means humankind. But philanthropy can be difficult to define, because it is profoundly individual and by definition voluntary. Today the term “philanthropy” refers to not only the act of giving, but also to an extensive network of private and public foundations, giving circles, and diverse individual donors that support numerous causes in order to improve the quality of life for people around the globe.
Informal giving and identity based philanthropy has a very long history in virtually every country, culture, and religion. Native American communities have many traditions of giving rituals, and “Zakat” or “Giving” is one of the five pillars of Islam. African American churches partnered with Freedmen’s Aid society to provide assistance to newly emancipated slaves. Latinos traditionally give through family networks and Latino immigrants send billions of dollars home in remittances.
German Jews in Boston began the earliest formal identity based philanthropy called the Jewish Federation, with the initial goal of helping immigrant families adjust to life in the U.S. Today, the Jewish Federation is the second largest philanthropic network in the United States after the United Way of America.
The Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, which has more than 1,000 giving circle members, recently launched a campaign to build a national movement of giving circles across the U.S. – to develop leadership and change the prevailing notions of who can be a philanthropist. Following in these footsteps, LCF will launch its first Latina Giving Circle this month with a group of 16 committed Latina women from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
What is a Giving Circle?
Giving Circles are made up of a group of individuals who pool their money and collectively decide how to invest their dollars. But Giving Circles are much more than a group of people getting together to give. They have become a place of empowerment. Circles vary in size, structure, and vision depending on who is leading it and why. Members span all ages, professions, ethnicities, and income levels. Members want to do more than write checks, they want to share and gain skills and knowledge as well as build new relationships and stonger community bonds.
Giving Circle members gain a better understanding of the issues, root causes, and complexities of making and sustaining change. A recent report by the Community Investment organization “The Impacts of Giving Together” explains the power of community philanthropy for people who have traditionally been excluded and explains that collective giving models are a viable way to reinvent philanthropy to reflect the nation’s changing demographics. Giving Circle members build community power, leverage resources, and gain a deeper sense of civic responsibility.
“Giving circles are a way to democratize philanthropy by encouraging solutions from any member of a community.”
The next decade of philanthropy will be full of dynamic change and collective giving models are already increasing in size and popularity. It is time that we inspire and engage more Latino leaders to participate and benefit from joining and leading Giving Circles.
If you want to join a learning community made up of passionate women, join LCF’s inaugural Latina giving circle – It is where friendship, leadership, and commitment to the Latino community come full circle.
At a time when many Latino families have less, this is one way to do more. Contact Sara Velten, firstname.lastname@example.org today to join our existing circle or to start your own.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”-African Proverb