Hi, I’m Maggie! I’m a writer with Philanthropy Together, and a first-time participant in their flagship Launchpad For You program! This spring, I’ll be taking you through my experience starting and growing my own giving circle through Launchpad For You, where I’m a member of the Spring 2022 Morning cohort.
Getting Started: What is Launchpad For You?
Launchpad For You is Philanthropy Together’s virtual, interactive leadership training program for people interested in starting their own giving circles. During this five-session program, circle founders from all over the world meet on Zoom for 75 minutes each week for training and coaching with Philanthropy Together. At the end of five weeks, participants will have a fully-formed giving circle ready to find members and start their first grant circle!
I joined the program so I can start my own circle: I’ve been writing about giving circles and the collective giving movement for years, and now’s my chance to build my own.
Launchpad is also a great way to connect with the collective giving community. In this year’s Launchpad, we’ve got the beginnings of 32 brand-new giving circles with founding members from all over the world – in my own cohort, we’ve got members from the US, Canada, Zimbabwe, India, and Malawi, just to name a few!
Week 1: Making Progress Step-by-Step
Each of Launchpad’s five weeks focus on a different part of the circle founding process: why, what, who (and how much), how, and where. Week 1 is all about the “Why” – finding the exact reasons you want to found a giving circle, and why YOU are the person best positioned to serve the needs of your community.
Week 1 is also about meeting the other members of the cohort, so we started with a thought exercise: each person introduced themselves with their name and the statement, “I am of the people who…” By the time we separated into our Breakout Rooms, we were already relaxed and joking around. We shared our ideas for our unique circles, the people and communities who inspired us to give, and our plans for getting started.
An important part of Launchpad For You is the way Philanthropy Together breaks down the circle founding process into simple steps. Not everyone in the group was familiar with giving circles, so Week 1 was also our chance to break down the basics. In Week 2, we’ll start getting into the specifics of founding a circle – but for now, the most important thing is getting into the right mindset.
The WHY is the critical component. As our instructor Isis Krause, Philanthropy Together’s Chief Strategy Officer, put it, “If you don’t know your ‘why’, the road will get tough.” We shared our own “why”s: the desire to get rid of grantmaking red tape, the drive to show others how to make a difference, and the idea that anyone can be a philanthropist, regardless of their net worth.
“The moment you lose sight of that why, that’s when it starts to feel like work,” Isis said. She drove the point forward that giving circles are about having fun, not just collecting money. Many cohort members – like myself – already work within the nonprofit sector, and it gets pretty tough when it feels like you have to take your work home with you. But through Launchpad, we’re learning how to build our circles on the foundation of fun – and more importantly, on the foundation of community.
We also got homework: Each week of the program, we’ll receive tasks and exercises with real-world applications. But Launchpad is built on the idea of fun, too. Our tasks are less about the nonprofit grind, and more about sharing our excitement with our friends and colleagues, the people who will make up the founding members of our own circles.
Takeaways From Week 1
You’ll have to join Launchpad yourself to get the specifics, but take it from me: There’s a reason Launchpad For You is Philanthropy Together’s most popular program. Between the direct instruction from real giving circle experts and the Launchpad Toolkit (a comprehensive, 127-page giving circle guide worth joining a five-week program for), Launchpad For You offers full immersion into the world of collective giving.
I’m already discovering that the people are the best part of Launchpad. Everyone in the Spring ‘22 cohort is driven, passionate, and inspired to make a difference. The founders in my group are from all over the world, with a diverse range of interests and backgrounds. What brings us all together is our desire to do more.
We’re of the people who give, the people who like to cook for their friends, the people who raised small children during the pandemic, and the people who want to disrupt the historic idea of philanthropists.
And most importantly, we’re the people ready to take the next step.
Follow along for updates each week, and for more news about the 32+ giving circle leaders graduating from the program! To join an upcoming Launchpad For You cohort, register today!