On the surface, women’s giving circles in America look a lot alike. Regardless of where they’re based, these philanthropic vehicles typically focus on the needs of local women and girls and promote women’s philanthropy by pooling donation dollars. Most of these groups are very new—a decade old, at best—and frequently affiliated with local community foundations for administrative support.
Yet the model and concept of the women’s giving circle continues to evolve with each new group, and the differences between them say a lot about what the greatest needs are in a particular community.
One of the new women’s giving circles to enter this growing scene is called 100 Strong Gallatin Valley, which is affiliated with the Bozeman Area Community Foundation in Montana. Something that immediately stood out to us about 100 Strong is its commitment to capital projects. Capital funding isn’t just something most women’s giving circles shy away from—lots of private family foundations avoid it too. Giving circles tend to stick to the kinds of program and project needs that can be wrapped up within a year so that they can move on to the next grantees without too many lingering obligations. However, 100 Strong’s mission is to bring together women to fund capital projects that will make the Gallatin Valley a better place to live for local families. This suggests that capital needs are something that is being overlooked by Bozeman donors right now and that these philanthropic women are seeking to fill that gap.
Fresh and Diverse Perspectives on Giving
100 Strong is one of the more accessible women’s giving circles out there today because membership only requires a commitment of $100 per quarter, for a total of $400 per year. This stands in contrast to some other women’s giving circles across the country with high buy-in costs that primarily attract older and wealthier members. There are a lot of young faces in the membership of 100 Strong, bringing some diversity and fresh perspectives to the local philanthropic landscape.
Although still new to the giving scene, 100 Strong plans to award quarterly grants, rather than pooling all of the annual funds for just one yearly distribution. This approach also differs from many other women’s giving circles. The funder recently hosted its very first giving event, featuring presentations by three local nonprofits sharing what they would do with a $10,000 gift. The circle chose Haven, a domestic abuse hotline that also provides emergency shelter and crisis intervention, to receive its first grant. The other top contenders were Bridgercare, a nonprofit reproductive and sexual healthcare clinic, and BYEP, an outdoorsy youth mentorship program.
100 Strong has an easily accessible online application and is accepting applications for the next round of giving through June 10. Learn more on the funder’s frequently asked questions page.