A giving circle – the concept is as simple as it is powerful – individuals coming together to pool resources and collectively decide how to distribute them. Today, women in philanthropy, on a global scale, are exerting more and more economic power as donors and philanthropists.
For a group of Purdue Science alumnae wanting their efforts to bring about change, they are unleashing their power, opening their purses, flexing their philanthropic muscles and taking the lead.
In 2007, the Science Women for Purdue (SWFP) formed their own giving circle to create funding in support of Science at Purdue while encouraging women to be philanthropic leaders. Circle members include Science alumnae, parents and friends. They recognize that women, as donors, have the capability of making a tremendous impact on the College of Science, its students, faculty and staff.
Giving Circle voting members each have 100 points they can designate to requests. These must come from a Science group, organization, faculty member or department. Christy Harrison, associate director of development for the College of Science, explained, “The voting process is interesting and different for each person. Some members want to spread their points around to multiple projects – trying to have the greatest impact on the greatest number of students possible – while others give all of their points to one or two projects.”
In its first year, the Circle received three proposals and awarded $5,200. With seven members the second year, they awarded $7,500 to six of the 11 proposals received. Now in its third year, the membership has doubled and they will award a total of $14,000 in early April.
The impact of giving grows exponentially when contributions are united in support of the College and directed through a collective voice. Through the power of their philanthropy, this energetic and diverse network is creating a brighter and more prosperous future for women in science and for our world.