We’re back! My name is Maggie, and you might remember me from my live-blogging experience with Launchpad For You.
Launchpad For You is Philanthropy Together’s virtual, interactive leadership training program for people interested in starting their own giving circles. I participated in this year’s spring cohort, with the opportunity to start and grow my own giving circle. I’m delighted to say that the program has been an absolute success for me, and today, I’m proud to introduce my very own circle: The Undercard Collective.
What is The Undercard Collective?
Officially launched on June 1, 2022 – just in time for Pride! – The Undercard Collective (UCGC) is a group of like-minded souls all over the country who want to radiate positivity and make a difference! We are a network of professionals and individuals, inspired by the positivity movement born out of music festivals, who support the arts and nonprofits focused on making the world a more equitable, inclusive, and exciting place to celebrate.
We named our organization after the “undercard”, the bottom half of a music festival lineup or other event schedule. This is where you’ll find the up-and-coming artists and individuals first starting to make their mark on the world. Our goal is to support that undercard around the world: grassroots nonprofits and organizations fighting for equity in the arts and empowerment for LGBTQ+ and communities of color.
We plan on holding a new grant cycle every quarter, with our first taking place from July 1 to September 30. UCGC is a fully virtual circle, with Zoom meetings held on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. ET. Our members span the country from California to New York and everywhere in between. We ask for a suggested $25 donation per month, but we also offer ways for members to stay engaged with “sweat equity” instead of making a financial contribution. For more information about UCGC and what we’re doing next, check out our website at www.undercardcollective.com.
How did Launchpad For You make this possible?
Frankly, UCGC would not exist without Launchpad For You. I first had the idea for a circle like this about three years ago, when I first began covering the collective philanthropy movement as a journalist. But with where I was in my career – and without a lick of free time to speak of – getting past the “idea” stage seemed like it might never happen.
I had the benefit of knowing the basics of collective philanthropy. After writing about it for several years, I felt like I had most of the knowledge I needed to start a circle, but every time I really let myself think about it beyond wistful thinking at 2 a.m., all the things I didn’t know weighed me down to the point where I gave up on trying.
But with Launchpad For You, I got so much more than information. There was the 127-page giving circle founder toolkit, a comprehensive guide to every nagging question that kept me from making forward progress. There were five weeks of online workshops, with full access to Philanthropy Together team members and endless examples from established giving circles across industries, membership styles, and budgets. And most importantly, there was accountability: one-on-one sessions with Philanthropy Together educators, follow-up emails to check in on my recruitment process, and an active online forum with space for Q&A, downloadable resources, and recordings of every training session to come back to again and again.
I can’t sing the praises of this program enough. I came into Launchpad with a healthy education on giving circles, but left the program with the most important piece of all: confidence. Encouragement from the Launchpad educators helped me take the plunge in recruiting my co-founders, Kyana and Amber. Accountability kept me up to date with my goals and deadlines, like creating a website and registering on Grapevine. And the pure excitement from Philanthropy Together team members like Isis Krause, Kelsey Barowich, and especially Tyeshia Wilson kept me engaged, hyped up, and fiercely passionate about every step of the circle founding process.
Everything I learned in Launchpad and passed along to my co-founders has helped to make The Undercard Collective a reality. And after our official launch on June 1, we’re gearing up for our first full grant cycle from July to September!
So, what’s next?
Since I last checked in, UCGC has officially grown to 6 full-time members! Our goal is to have 10 registered members in time for our first full meeting on July 6th. To join us (we’d love to have you!) or follow along in our journey, keep an eye on our Instagram, Grapevine, and website. Coming up next, you’ll find us at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in June mid-June, where we’re co-sponsoring the official Birthday Parade through the campgrounds and handing out stickers and good vibes to spread the word about UCGC in particular and the giving circle movement as a whole.
I can officially say now that starting a giving circle is an immensely rewarding experience. All the work my co-founders and I have put in (and trust me, it’s been a lot!) has been utterly worth it, and it’s equal parts inspiring and terrifying to know that we’re just getting started. I understand now how my parents must have felt sending their youngest off to college… The Undercard Collective is just getting off the ground, and I’m just so proud of all the effort that got us here!
For my co-founders and I, our next steps are growth, growth, growth. We plan on hosting our first official meeting in early July, during which we’ll celebrate with our founding members and make the strategic decisions going into our first grant cycle.
For you, your next step can be joining or starting a giving circle of your own! The Philanthropy Together and Grapevine giving circle directory is the largest in the world. If there’s a cause or a geographical area near and dear to your heart, you’re likely to find a group to join and start making a difference in a few short days. Or if you’re ready to take the plunge and found your own giving circle, Philanthropy Together is here to help.
New sessions of Launchpad For You, Launchpad For Hosts, and other Philanthropy Together training programs are always just around the corner. To learn more, register for an upcoming cohort and keep an eye on your email inbox. New events, campaigns, and resources from our team and our partners help transform and grow the giving circle movement every day – and it’s your turn to be a part of it.
Follow along with The Undercard Collective on Instagram, Grapevine, and our website, www.undercardcollective.com. Follow Philanthropy Together for more updates about the growing giving circle movement, and for more news about the 32+ “LaunchGrads” from this year’s program. To join an upcoming Launchpad For You cohort, register today!
Read about Maggie’s Launchpad For You journey:
Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist within the nonprofit sector. Maggie is the Founder and Executive Director of the agency Get Mighty Creative, as well as a co-founder and the Director of Operations for The Undercard Collective, a giving circle focused on representation in music and the arts. She is a Maryland transplant by way of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ireland, and most recently Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.