Last week we highlighted some of our favorite Giving Circles in Los Angeles. This inspired Starfish Impact team member Faye Walsh Drouillard to write about her experience with a Giving Circle in Amsterdam.
What impact do you have when you bring international individuals together in the Netherlands (The Giving Circle of Amsterdam) to learn about the latest philanthropy trends and collectively give to social purpose organizations?
Are grants given to innovative local and international causes? Check.
Are diverse solutions to social problems illuminated? Check.
Do members come together in a community of sorts to share perspectives on philanthropy? Check.
Members initially joined the group with a big focus the amount given, the collaborative process and perhaps curiosity about my American charitable habits. It is no secret that collaborative philanthropy through giving circles is already a popular method in the U.S. and UK. However, it’s not yet so popular with the Dutch.
Our grants, however important, such as helping Stichting VoorUit supports ethnic and economic integration in neighborhoods in the north of Amsterdam or Sympany to train women as tailors so they become self reliant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are modest in the world of philanthropy. The long lasting impact the Giving Circle of Amsterdam will have in our lifetime ay not necessarily be on the organizations funded.
The real impact of the Giving Circle may be that our members have become more engaged in philanthropy — more strategic and thoughtful — earlier in their lives as a result of joining the group. Should their giving evolve along with an increase in wealth and experience – their total lifetime giving will be increased exponentially. Catalytic impact, perhaps? I would like to think so. So why and how?
Our meetings are relaxed and fun, yet focused. Sessions are lively and never dull. We have fun because giving is not a chore. We are unique in that we don’t have a particular theme or cause as most giving circles do – we let members explore their own areas of interest to find potential grantees. As a founder, I am most invigorated by the passion and critical thinking each member brings to our meetings. Over a short time, everyone’s philanthropic philosophy has evolved. Members are more clearly defining what impact they each want to make and learning how to do it.
We want our giving to come from a positive and hopeful concern for the world’s future, not from guilt or peer pressure. Over time, giving should just be a natural reflex. Something we just do. And do well.