Foundation Center Talk

We are thrilled that Tim Smith, our Director of Engagement and Operations, represented Full Circle Fund at the Foundation Center’s open house panel How to Connect with Giving Circles in late February. Moderated by Raquel Donoso, CEO of Latino Community Foundation, the panel also featured Nancy Heinen from SV2, Ginger Hintz from the Women Donors Network, and Anna Welton of Foundation for Sustainable Development.

The panel highlighted how these four giving circles employ different models for connecting donors to nonprofits; each organization suggested some simple do’s and don’ts for the nonprofit audience members looking to build funding relationships with innovative donors. The Foundation Center’s recap of the event outlines these tips, adding to the wealth of resources the organization offers grant seekers.

A recurring theme in the panel discussion became how giving circles are breaking down exclusivity in philanthropy. Full Circle Fund and SV2 both emphasized how our member-driven models aim to encourage participation in the social sector by engaging new types of philanthropists. Nancy Heinen remarked that an often overlooked but especially powerful tool in fundraising is the simple action of asking people to become donors. Ginger Hintz also noted that increasing inter-generational collaborations helps dissolve historic silos in philanthropy, and prepares a new generation of citizens to engage with the social sector in new ways. Further, the panel noted that giving circles are trending towards committing to transparency, making it clearer who the organizations’ donors are and how they are drawn to build networks with each other.

When giving circles share best practices, models, and connections, we work together to push the engaged philanthropy movement forward; as Nancy Heinen said, we “increase the catalytic power of the network.” The panel continued the thread of future opportunities, such as creating new ways for giving circles to engage with nonprofits that might not fit a circle’s regular portfolio. There was also substantial interest in seeing how giving circles might fund networking entities or more giving circles, as reflecting the basic belief behind strategic philanthropy, that together we are greater than the sum of our parts.

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