Women are the networking superstars of the philanthropy world. They're coming together to pool ideas, energy, and funds to make things happen more than ever lately. Not only are women's funds thriving around the U.S., but so are women's giving circles.
Over the last few years, for example, we’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of the local Impact 100 groups around the country. These women’s giving circles are based in the Southwest, Philadelphia, Chicago, and beyond.
But one thing I’ve always wondered while covering news about these groups is “what about the men?”
A common rap on men in philanthropy is that they're more apt to operate in traditional hierarchical or ego-driven ways. You're more likely to find them climbing to the top of foundations or slapping their names on buildings than joining giving circles or other collaborative efforts to pool funds.
Well, we're happy to report that this stereotype is overblown. We are seeing more networked donor efforts spearheaded by men. And we're seeing some male giving circles, too. Recently, I wrote about the Full Circle Fund, a philanthropy network in the Bay Area developed by collaboration-minded men in the tech and business world. Also in the Bay Area, you'll find the San Francisco Men's Giving Circle. A newer and more political example is the January 21st Men's Giving Circle, formed earlier this year to "resist" Trump by donating to nonprofits. In Denver, there's a male giving circle called Denver African-American Philanthropists, whose tagline is "black men giving with a purpose."
In Palm Beach, Florida, a group called Impact 100 Men Palm Beach County has united to give back to the South Palm Beach County area. This is a donor-advised fund of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. Most community foundations have a long list of donor-advised funds, but very few of them include men’s giving circles, which is why this particular one stands out. Meanwhile, there is also an Impact 100 Palm Beach County for women, as well.
So, what does a men’s giving circle focus on, and how does it differ from women’s local giving?
The local Impact 100 for men just debuted here last year, actually, so we don’t have a whole lot of information so far. Men in the community thought that if the women can do it, then men could, too—and they were right. Three men, Chuck Halberg, Stephen Greene, and Ted Hoskinson, set out to mimic the local women’s group and replicate their success. These three men had previously been involved in local charitable groups and this was the next logical step in their philanthropic endeavors. In the past, the men started a program at a local elementary school to give gift cards to teachers, and an initiative that hosts fundraising events around town.
“It’s all about just giving back and making a bigger impact,” Halberg said. “We have done the events and raised small amounts. Now, it is time to make a big difference.”
Women’s giving circles are much more established in cities, and have developed well-defined focus areas over time. For example, the local women’s group in Palm Beach has the following focus areas: arts and culture, education, environment, family, and health and wellness. Meanwhile, the much newer men’s group has been working to establish its priorities and decide which types of organizations it will fund.
Recently, the men’s group made a $50,000 grant to an organization called Miracle League of Palm Beach County. This grant touched on outdoor recreation and children with special needs, as the organization plans to build an accessible playground.
“Our group decided on Miracle League as we felt the money would make the largest impact with a great amount of local children,” said Impact 100 Men Palm Beach County’s co-founder Stephen Green. “Most importantly, it will be an all-inclusive area allowing participation, providing perspective, and reducing prejudice for those with differing needs.”
The men also made $3,000 grants to Junior Achievement of South Florida and the Milagro Center. Thus far, the men have been most interested in supporting children from birth through 16 years, but that focus could change from year to year.
What’s great for men’s giving circles is that they don’t need to reinvent the wheel—as much as they might like too, being men and all. (Joke!) Women’s giving circles have been pretty effective lately, and men can largely replicate this success with a little help. For example, Palm Beach’s Impact 100 co-founder, Tandy Robinson, helped the men’s group get off the ground. There’s also potential for women who are already involved with Impact 100 to recruit their significant others to learn more, too. Membership recruitment will increase the effectiveness of men’s groups like this one and help them serve as a model for men in other cities.
You can follow Impact 100 Men Palm Beach County on Facebook to keep up with who’s getting their attention and who’s involved. We’re not exactly sure what the big picture of men’s giving circle grantmaking will look like yet, but we are excited to see how it progresses and finds its place in cities across the country.