What a Giving Circle Wants to Know About Your Profile in The Giving Partner

September 25, 2013

givingcircleYesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with individuals in a giving circle who are in the process of developing their funding priorities and considering potential nonprofit grantees.

Giving circles are growing in popularity, creating a flexible structure in which groups of individual donors pool their resources and have meaningful conversations together about the intentions and outcomes they wish to see in their joint philanthropy.

The group creates its own mission focus, reviews potential grantees, and makes a joint decision about who they wish to fund. By working in a focused group, they discover commonalities and fascinating discussion points while making a larger impact with their “together gift.”

In yesterday’s discussion, we talked about the wealth of information available through The Giving Partner and how profiles can be used to establish thoughtful dialogue with the nonprofits they consider supporting.

The group was fabulous. Giving circle members shared some amazing questions that provide valuable insights into what is important for them. Like foundations, businesses, and individual donors, every giving circle is unique and has different approaches, questions and interest areas.

Here is what they wanted to know:

  • Why don’t the profiles for all organizations addressing our giving circle’s interest area come up in an advanced search using The Giving Partner?
    We have some work do to here, friends! The advanced search draws on an organization’s name, mission area, mission statement, and the keywords entered in the profile behind the scenes. Each organization can choose its own keywords in the keyword field (statements & search criteria section). Does your nonprofit help a certain population or have a program keyword that is important? Re-visit this and list those words in the special keyword section. You want to be included in a search when donors are looking for you!

  • How important is 100% board giving?
    Many foundations and donors believe that an organization might not be ready for funding from outside sources until all board members are making personal monetary contributions. I saw lots of nods in agreement from those around the table. The amount an individual board member gives is not as important as 100% participation. This data point is provided in the governance section of each profile.

  • When organizations do not list specific items with dollar amounts in the needs statement section, is it because the agency is afraid to be bold in articulating its needs, or because there is no agreement about its greatest needs?
    This seems to come up continuously in conversation with donors. Donors are looking for organizations to articulate specific needs with a range of dollar amounts so they can better understand how a gift might be put to work at the organization.

  • What sources did nonprofits use for the statistics they share in the program section?
    Another great question. In one specific nonprofit profile the group was reviewing, the organization provided some compelling numbers to make the case for its key program, but there were no citations about where the statistics originated and whether they were local or national. Smart, inquiring donors and giving circles want to know.

  • How often can the organization update its profile in The Giving Partner?
    Some out-of-date information was included in The Giving Partner profile we were viewing together. Some individuals in the giving circle sat on the board of the organization or were otherwise involved and recognized this. Keeping profiles loaded with the most current information is so important. The giving circle learned that organizations can update profiles as frequently as they wish.

One final question from the group: “How can we make sure the organizations we care about have profiles in The Giving Partner?” Thanks to the great work of 350 nonprofits, many profiles are available, but others are waiting to be created.

The Giving Partner has helped us discover organizations new to us and new to donors. We want everyone to be represented.

Orientations take place every other month, and the next session is Friday, October 18. Organizations that would like to develop profiles in The Giving Partner and those who want a refresher are welcome to attend. For more information, contact Kaci Carroll at KCarroll@CFSarasota.org.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


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