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Gates Foundation invests in collective giving movement

Exciting news for all of us in the world of “collective giving”, the umbrella term for crowd funding, and giving circles: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $2million investment to encourage the establishment of hundreds of new giving circles across the US.

The news is significant because it demonstrates the growing recognition of the value of grassroots philanthropy. Unlike grant-making by large institutional funders like the Gates Foundation, grassroots philanthropy works closely with the communities it supports, funds more diverse issues, reaches smaller, niche beneficiary groups, gives money away more flexibly, takes greater risks and involves a cross section of people in decision making. In other words, it behaves more democratically.

In an article about the Gates Foundation announcement in  US journal, Inside Philanthropy, Latino Community Foundation Vice President Masha Chernyak, expressed some very interesting thoughts on giving circles. She said when members of their  Latino Giving Circle close their eyes and picture a philanthropist, she wants them to see their parents and grandparents, not just Bill Gates.

This sentiment resonated with my childhood as I grew up watching my immigrant parents do everything they could to support our communities (both here in the UK and Somalia). I think about how my mother and her friends would come together to support the disadvantaged back home, organising parties, collecting money from their extended networks and so forth. They feel it’s necessary to give as they’ve had better opportunities than a lot of their friends and families had and feel compelled to help. Recently, my Mum spent hours in the kitchen cooking up a feast of delicious Somali foods to sell at a local community centre. They raised a little over £1000 and it was a huge success!

Giving circles challenge what traditional philanthropy looks like – they are inclusive of a larger demographic.  They give people a sense of purpose as they shape their communities for the better. I felt deeply connected to this way of giving because of my mother. She will never stop trying to support anyone who needs help. As Chernyak put it, “Philanthropy is in action. It’s in our collective DNA”.

To read more about this story in this thought-provoking article click here.

Pictured above, Anab Jama (Mum).

Hodan Jama, Communications and Membership Coordinator 


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