Ep. 118: The Growing Charitable Movement That’s Raised a Billion Dollars (with Sara Lomelin)

by Joan Garry

Giving circles have raised well over a BILLION dollars over the past 20 years. Learn how your org can tap into this growing movement.


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When one person makes a donation to a nonprofit, they can make a difference for one organization. Now imagine that you gathered with a group of friends, relatives, colleagues pooling resources, sharing ideas and expertise to make a much larger collective impact in your community.

This is called a giving circle. And it turns out that giving circles are fueling the world of modern philanthropy in a big way. Huge.

How huge? Try 1.3 billion dollars over the past 20 years. Like I said, huge.

Philanthropy Together, a national initiative with a mission to diversify and democratize philanthropy, is led by my guest, Sara Lomelin. By strengthening and scaling the power of giving circles, she and her team are working to challenge the narrative that suggests you need to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist. Each spring and fall, Philanthropy Together hosts Launchpad, a virtual, interactive leadership training program that helps launch giving circles for a diverse group of community leaders from across the country.

Are giving circles the future of philanthropy? And how can you tap into this growing movement? Let’s find out.

About Sara Lomelin

Sara Lomelin is a connector of people and ideas, a relationship builder, and a firm believer that everyone can be a philanthropist. As the executive director of Philanthropy Together, the first organization dedicated to strengthening and scaling the collective giving movement nationally, she is working to diversify and democratize philanthropy by creating the infrastructure and information-sharing needed for the giving circle model to flourish in ALL communities. Prior to Philanthropy Together, Sara served as senior director of leadership philanthropy at Opportunity Fund, the largest nonprofit lender in the United States. Previously at the Latino Community Foundation, Sara served as vice president of Philanthropy for seven years and brought her high-energy approach to creating the Latino Giving Circle Network™, which she helped grow to become the largest network of Latinx philanthropists in the U.S. that support Latino-led organizations. She has been featured in Forbes, Amplifier and also participated in panels hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Hispanics in Philanthropy and more. Sara graduated with honors from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and received her Administration and Management Certificate from Harvard University, where she also earned the prestigious Katie Y. F. Yang Prize.