Quality of life, especially toward the end of life, is priceless. That’s why Northwest Colorado Health submitted a proposal to Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Women’s Giving Circle for consideration of funding in August 2020. The client, we will call her Norma, is a retired woman over 65 with lung cancer. With her illness preventing her from working and the costs of her treatments driving her family into bankruptcy, she was unable to afford a portable oxygen concentrator, and thus was unable to leave her home due to the weight of the non-portable machine tanks. The Women’s Giving Circle donated $1800 to Northwest Colorado Health for the purchase of the portable concentrator, allowing her to go outside and find companionship during her illness, key to mobility, freedom and a better quality of life. This is just one example of dozens of requests fulfilled by YVCF’s giving circles in 2020. Quality of life, and so much more, is what giving circles are able to offer to those in need.
A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy, or collective giving, where individuals pool their charitable donations and decide as a group where to give the funds. In doing so, the members of giving circles increase their awareness of issues within their communities and maximize their positive impact.
The Yampa Valley Community Foundation administers three giving circle charitable funds: WZ Giving Circle, Women’s Giving Circle and IMPACT100. In 2020, these three giving circles granted out over $103,000 to nonprofits serving the needs of individuals and families in the Yampa Valley. Each member of a giving circle makes a predetermined minimum tax-deductible donation. YVCF serves as the host organization, accepting and processing the donations, and managing grant disbursement to the qualified charitable organizations selected by the giving circles.
“Members of the WZ Giving Circle are committed to helping families and individuals in the Yampa Valley who are in need,” says Ray Parks, founder of the WZ Giving Circle. Through their charitable giving, the WZ Giving Circle members help those whose specific circumstances require immediate financial assistance and for which there are gaps in other sources of funding. Over the course of three grant cycles in 2020, the WZ Giving Circle received proposals and heard presentations from 11 nonprofits on behalf of clients with critical needs and for which funding could have a profound impact on their lives. The group approved over 21 requests for funding, totaling over $63,000, including new glasses and snow tires for a single parent, therapy services for a child, and wood delivery and propane tank refill for an elderly woman with disability.
The mission of the Women’s Giving Circle is to make an impact toward improving the situation of women, children or the elderly in the Yampa Valley. It began in 2003 when a group of local women pooled their dollars together and made donations to local children and women in need. Through partnership with YVCF, the Women’s Giving Circle receives proposals from nonprofits on behalf of their clients who have a one-time, finite expense that addresses an urgent but not chronic need. Proposals are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis, year-round, making this giving circle nimble and able to promptly respond and provide assistance in emergency situations. In 2020, the Women’s Giving Circle funded 22 requests totaling almost $28,500. Proposals that have been funded in the past include a handicap access ramp for a home, boiler repair and mold mitigation, and car repairs for a single parent.
The IMPACT100 concept is for 100 people to donate $100 each, creating a pool of $10,000. Through four events spanning September-April, four nonprofits are selected to present each year, culminating in a voting event to determine final grant awards. IMPACT100 is intended to inspire the next generation of philanthropists and its goal is two-pronged: to increase charitable giving in support of Yampa Valley nonprofits, and to provide members with opportunities for education about the nonprofits serving our communities as well as the needs that exist in our communities. This year, $12,500 was granted to organizations through the collective giving of IMPACT100 members.
The Yampa Valley Community Foundation hosts these giving circles because they are an effective and impactful tool in philanthropy, allowing members to magnify the impact of their donations, and because they provide members with an opportunity for enrichment and connection with other like-minded people in our community. Participants in philanthropic giving circles experience a greater feeling of connectedness to their communities and find fulfillment in making a difference in the lives of others, especially important in these challenging times.