There’s no such thing as “too much of a good thing” when it comes to giving circles. With the rise in participatory grantmaking and collaboration comes an understandable rise in collective giving initiatives. And in Denver, Colorado, the intersections between community and collaborative giving are crystal clear.
LatinasGive!, a Denver-based giving circle serving the Latina community, saw a great opportunity when a male colleague asked if the circle would be open to accepting funds from men.
Initially, the response from Co-Founder and Chair Marlene De La Rosa was a resounding “Yes!”, but after consideration, she realized there was a much more impactful path forward.
“I said, ‘How about we help you start your own giving circle?’” she remembers. Building off of the experiences and resources available from LatinasGive!’s years in service, Marlene worked with men from her community to form Latinos Impacting our Future Together (L.I.F.T.), one of the first all-male Latino giving circles in Colorado.
Today, L.I.F.T. has become a close partner of LatinasGive!. Often, the two giving circles collaborate for larger-scale grantmaking initiatives, including an upcoming joint giving circle project with two African American giving circles (Including DAAP), an AAPI circle, and a youth circle, all headquartered in the Denver area. Leveraging a support gift from Philanthropy Together’s Racial Equity Community of Practice, LatinasGive! will hire a facilitator for the six organizations to help maximize their collective impact by understanding and learning from each other’s experiences.
“It’s important that we understand each other,” Marlene says. “We can’t always say that just because I’m a person of color and you’re a person of color, we understand each other’s struggles. We don’t always know how to work together toward that common goal of improving all of our communities – so thanks to Philanthropy Together, we’re going to work through that with a facilitator who can help us understand and recognize each other in our struggles and uniqueness so that we can move forward together and be example to our communities, and the larger community of Denver.”
This educational approach to leadership and expansion is a natural evolution of LatinasGive!’s empowerment-focused practices.
In an effort to keep members engaged and wanting to deepen their commitments year after year, Marlene and the LatinasGive! leadership team have leveraged their membership in the Community Investment Network (CIN) to attend webinars and annual conferences, access resources designed to uplift community funders like their circle, and expand their relationships with other circles of color in Colorado and the rest of the United States.
Marlene sees this as a never-ending opportunity to expand relationships with women and organizers who come from similar backgrounds.
“Recognizing that even though I have a belief about ‘this issue’ and you have a belief about ‘that issue’, and we have to work to resolve those, we’re still coming together and recognizing that all of that brings some kind of value to the group and how we learn about the issues in the community,” she says. “Learning how to get beyond our differences and recognizing the one thing we have in common — and that’s building our community.”
Where some nonprofit organizations were forced to close down due to job losses and financial constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, Denver’s circle community banded together for immediate impact.
The “give what we can give” mentality expanded outside of regular grantmaking cycles. Members from LatinasGive! and L.I.F.T. organized campaigns to support the people worst impacted by the pandemic, including clothing and food drives, coordinated deliveries to quarantining families, and a money pool in support of Latina Safe House, a Denver organization serving Latina women faced with domestic violence.
The emergency funds from L.I.F.T. and LatinasGive! allowed Latina Safe House to expand their regular services as well as their support network — in response to the rise of domestic violence cases due to the pandemic, Latina Safe House began offering counseling services not only to survivors themselves, but to their friends and family members processing their own associated trauma and looking for ways to support their loved ones.
“Especially in families of color, what you go through is what we all go through,” Marlene says. “We saw the need and we immediately came together to support our community.”
Partnerships that stretch between and beyond circle membership is on the rise as giving circles continue to strengthen their community. Denver is just one city where the power of collaborative giving is growing every day. As you look to deepen your local impact, connect with other giving circles in your area!
To learn more about L.I.F.T., visit their website. Be sure to check out Part 1 of this spotlight, “Onward and Upward: Latina Leadership and Community Empowerment with LatinasGive!”, where we take a closer look at the founding of LatinasGive! and their efforts in Denver.