Part of a Philanthropy A-Z series

There are instances where a downturned economy can offer new and innovative solutions to issues that we face. Even though many of us are tightening our own wallets, social problems and worthy causes do not decline. Giving circles are a growing form of philanthropy that offer solutions to social causes, while not financially overburdening those that want to support those causes.

Members of giving circles collectively pool their funds, learn about community needs, and together determine where and how their gifts are granted. A giving circle’s strength is in the collective power of its resources and ideas, not in one person solely.

Inspired by Oseola McCarty’s generous gift to Southern Mississippi University, a group of women in New Orleans formed the Zawadi giving circle. Remarkably, McCarty was not a wealthy woman, and gave away a large portion of her life savings to a cause that she deemed worthy. Zawadi continues to replicate the spirit of McCarty’s generosity, by requiring that members contribute a minimum of $100 a year to their collective pool, and to causes of their choosing, such as aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina.

At CAAP, the Bustan Al-Funun giving circle was recently formed by a group of women interested in supporting causes that present Arab world or Arab American arts in the United States. For more information on the benefits of giving circles, or to inquire about starting one through CAAP, please visit our website.

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