Philadelphia Is a Stronghold for Women’s Giving. Which Issues Matter Most?

The giving circle movement is getting stronger across the country—not just with women, but also among men, as we recently pointed out. That particular story was inspired by a group in Florida, but one thing we’ve noticed is that giving circles tend to be more popular in some cities than others.

One of the biggest strongholds of the giving circle movement is Philadelphia, which may come as a surprise to some grantseekers. Philadelphia certainly isn’t the largest or most philanthropic city in terms of overall giving in America, but it has a unique spirit that brings people together in grassroots ways. Recently, we discovered another women’s giving group that has Philadelphia as its focus.


The Saturday Club is one of the oldest and most well-established women’s giving groups, not just in Pennsylvania, but in the entire U.S. Impressively, this club has been around since the 1880s to provide women with ways to connect with each other, support local causes, and enrich their lives through philanthropy and volunteerism.

In its most recent giving cycle, earlier this spring, the Saturday Club announced new grants to several local organizations that support women and children. Compared to past years, the club’s grantmaking expanded in 2017 due to strong fundraising and campaign efforts. Unlike such local giving circles as Impact 100 Philadelphia, which fund a broader range of issue areas, this organization usually sticks to grants that benefit women, children and families. However, the sole geographic focus of these funders is Greater Philadelphia.

Let’s take a look at where Saturday Club grants have been going lately.

Girls Leadership

The Saturday Club is most interested in boosting the leadership skills of Philadelphia-area girls. A recent grant went to the Community Center at Visitation to support two teen girls in the center’s leadership program. Key goals are to improve self-esteem and decision-making skills among girls. Yet this grant stands out because it’s directly investing in two young individuals rather than the organization as a whole.

Healthy Food

Fresh and healthy food is also a priority, especially through programs based in schools. One grantee, the Greener Partners’ Norristown Healthy Food Project, targets Norristown children through education and also access for families through food distribution strategies.

Homeless Women and Children

Women and children who find themselves homeless in the Philadelphia area are also on the Saturday Club’s radar, and it is is particularly interested in helping homeless women advance their education. A grant was recently awarded to the Milagro House to meet this need.

Children with Disabilities

To support local children with disabilities, the Saturday Club awarded a grant to Paws and Affection to pair dogs with disabled children to help kids gain independence. The money is going toward dog training, but the end goal is all about the kids.

At-Risk Youth

Other types of at-risk youth are also of interest to this funder, especially those in western Chester County’s most disadvantaged areas. With summer around the corner, this is an especially timely grant for kids in need of positive activity options like skate parks and camping.

The Saturday Club offers annual grant opportunities for local nonprofits, with applications due in January and awards given in April. Interested grantseekers can learn more about the application process here. The club of women celebrated its 131st anniversary in March. Over the past two decades, it has awarded around $1 million to community groups, and these grants typically range from $500 to $3,000 each.