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Giving circles – having a bigger impact than you can on your own.

Back in 2013, four women from the University of Auckland’s Business School combined their giving power and shared passion, to make a difference by creating the “Fabulous Ladies Giving Circle”. In doing so they have connected with like-minded people, are having some fun while learning and making a bigger impact than they could on their own.

The group is now 19-members strong, has a firm mission, and has raised $36,000, and distributed $7,000 to support three young parents to complete their university education.

Through a fund set up with Auckland Foundation, the Fabulous Ladies Giving Circle supports young parents by paying for childcare, allowing the parents to finish their tertiary education. And as a secondary benefit, education is also provided to the pre-schoolers.

Meanwhile, Auckland Foundation takes care of all the legal, financial and administrative responsibilities associated with a charitable foundation, providing continuity and professional management over generations.

One of the founders, Professor Deborah Levy, shares her Top 10 Tips for creating your own giving circle:

  • A group of around 20/25 enables everyone to have input into the decisions.
  • Agree as a group, and use consensus.
  • Be flexible and allow people to come and go as their circumstances change: “We’ve got women at all salary levels within the business school – some have to pull out and come back in when they have kids; the flexibility is really important.”
  • Be professional, transparent and able to back up all your decisions.
  • Meet regularly and make it fun and informative: invite people to come and talk to the group.
  • Look for an issue that everybody cares about and take your time to find the right one to support.
  • Consider who you invite into the circle. “I don’t think giving circles are right for people who want to be in control and aren’t prepared to agree on consensus, you’ve got to want to be part of a group and be relatively relaxed; as long as you’re wanting to make the difference.”
  • Include a mix of people, those who want to be hands off and those who want to do the work.
  • Create alliances – to add to the circles capabilities.
  • Don’t be in a hurry. Set up your giving circle, start paying, but take your time to get to know each other as a group and listen to each other.