Sarasota giving circles

If two heads are better than one, then think about the good that can happen when you gather 12 or 22 like-minded people together to support causes they care about. That's the notion behind the Community Foundation of Sarasota County's newly formed Giving Circles Initiative.

Giving circles, explains director of development and donor relations Danielle Sherrill, allow people to pool their resources to make a bigger impact on a demonstrated need. "There's a real social aspect to it in the networking," says Sherrill, "and a real learning piece, too, because as you come together as a group, you learn about causes from one another, and you are researching other charities you might want to support."

Already, five local giving circles have formed. The smallest, the Giving Girls, has five members; the largest, Women Giving Together, has 20. Our Sarasota Fund focuses on helping local LGBT-related nonprofit organizations, while the Athena Progressive Giving Circle funds programs that improve the lives of local females, and the Anna Maria Island Women's Circle's broad mission is to make life better for people and causes in their community.

The Community Foundation is the financial steward, but the giving circles themselves decide the contribution levels. One local fund, Sherrill says, set an amount of $25 per month; another requires an annual contribution of $1,500. "One meets over a glass of wine every three months," says Sherrill. "Others are more formal; members are assigned various duties like research, governance and marketing to recruit new members."

"It's encouraging people that everyone can be a philanthropist," says Community Foundation marketing director Sharon Kunkel.

Click here to read our 2013-2014 giving register. 

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