Women are generous when it comes to charitable donations. And they want to make sure their money makes a difference. Why not harness all that good will by starting a women's giving circle? By pooling donations and handpicking charities, a giving circle ensures that each dollar makes an impact.
Step 1: Identify needs in your community Think about the causes that stir your passion. Then talk to community organizers with direct knowledge of those issues about what exactly can be done to make a positive change.
Step 2: Find members Find other women who are looking for a way to give back to the community – friends, neighbors, family, co-workers – and ask if they'd be interested in setting up a charitable group known as a giving circle. Explain the purpose – to target resources in order to make significant donations to selected charities.
Step 3: Set a date Host a meeting so you can set goals, like settling on the kinds of charities the circle would like to support; the financial and time commitment everyone's willing to make; when contributions are raised and provided to groups; how often you'd like to meet; and for how long. The group may be as informal or as organized as everyone likes: The important thing is that everyone has an equal voice.
TIP: Consider concentrating on one issue, meaning you'd give money to various groups tackling the same problem. It's one way to see fast results.
Step 4: Pick charities Choose the first charity or charities to support. Some circles invite charities to apply for contributions; others find worthy causes entirely on their own.
Step 5: Delegate duties Delegate duties, such as keeping the financial records, taking the minutes, and investigating potential recipients. Make sure there's time for some socializing, too! Giving circles are a fun way to meet new women, as well as spend time with old friends.
TIP: Consider giving to AARP Foundation's Women's Scholarship Program, which helps women over 40 get the education they need to re-enter the workforce or get a better job.
Step 6: Manage your money The simplest way to manage the money is for each member to write their own check. Then, give the checks to the charity as a group, so the charity knows where the support came from.
Step 7: Consider personal involvement in the chosen charity Discuss what members could do to help the chosen charities beyond their financial contribution, like donating their expertise or skills. It's an opportunity to use your life experience to help others in a hands-on way.
TIP: Establish personal connections with charities through on-site visits.
Step 8: Measure your impact Periodically examine your short-term and long-term goals at your meetings. It helps you see exactly how your contributions are making a difference – in your community at large, and in the lives of individuals. And what greater legacy could you leave than that?
FACT: Donors who participate in giving circles give more money to more organizations, and distribute it more wisely, than other donors, according to one study.