Aurora Foundation Women's Giving Circle

Inspiration from other Giving Circles

The quotes on this page from founders of other circles relate some reasons women choose to work together to make their communities stronger through philanthropy. All of the excerpts come from Women’s Giving Circles: Reflections from the Founders by Sondra Shaw-Hardy


Colleen Willoughby, Washington Women’s Foundation, Seattle, Washington (1995)

“After forty years of active volunteerism, I became aware of a disconnect for women donors between their capacity to give and their confidence to make major gifts. The model we created was a new form of giving. I started and focused on women because they were the unseen and unrecognized potential for new philanthropic dollars. I have always been interested in promoting women’s leadership. I feel strongly that it was the community’s loss by not having more women as donors. And I am always trying to express the idea that philanthropy is more than addressing dire need — it is also about creating new solutions through new ventures for the community.”


About Wendy Hermann Steele, Impact 100, Cincinnati, Ohio (2001)

Wendy reviewed the ways women in her church were raising money for ongoing operations and capital improvements. “They were doing it through bake sales and rummage sales,” she says. When men raised money at the church, they called their buddies and raised $45,000 compared to the women’s $7,000. “It never occurred to the women to write a check because that wasn’t their mindset. I wanted to empower women to feel they can write a check and it feels good and they would get as many rewards as having a rummage sale.”


From Lynn McNair, African American Women’s Giving Circle, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Washington, DC (2006)

The women in the circle concentrate their grantmaking on “place” and “placed-based” giving — finding a “place” in their community where they can give and then becoming directly involved. They settled on Ward 8 in southeast Washington, DC. “We wanted to dig a little deeper and really put in our tentacles so that it was more than just making a grant,” Lynn says. The women volunteer in the community as well as make grants. They call it “deliberative involvement.”


Ann Baker, Women’s Giving Alliance, Jacksonville, Florida (2001)

“I feel our giving circle is creating philanthropists.”


Deborah McManus, The WellMet Group, New York (1999)

“The three of us decided we would look for the new kids on the block — for the emerging 501(c)3 groups led by dynamos. We wanted to carve out our own place. The big players such as the community foundations tend to go for established charities. That’s exactly what we didn’t want to do. We wanted to be the first or second funder,” Deborah says.