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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, September 25, 2017

Amplifier, the global network of Jewish giving circles, is seeking to help philanthropists strengthen their giving circles – groups of people pooling their charitable efforts – with its first ever six-month training Institute.

The inaugural Giving Circle Institute, which began with a two-day learning retreat in New York last week, is training leaders across 10 states and two countries who lead 16 giving circles – groups of people who pool their charitable funds and decide together which causes or organizations to support. 

Amplifier is dedicated to growing and convening giving circles inspired by Jewish values in a global philanthropic network and is now expanding its efforts to help giving circles sustain themselves and strengthen the field. There are currently more than 3,000 giving circle members in the 102 giving circles that are part of Amplifier’s network. 

Amplifier is launching the Institute in part after conducting a survey of 315 members of 55 giving circles, in which 68 percent of respondents reported that their total philanthropic giving increased since they joined a giving circle. Importantly, the research found that this increase was tied to the number of years a person participated in a giving circle: 78 percent of those who participated for four or more years reported increased giving, compared to 63 percent of those who participated from one to three years. 

As such, the Institute is aimed at helping leaders to sustain their giving circles – not only to more deeply impact and increase members’ philanthropy, but also to equip them to be more effective and intentional grant-makers as their generosity increases.

The training is focusing on ethical philanthropy practices, strategies for engaging in civil society, finding new avenues for Jewish expression, and deepening a sense of community. As giving circles open members up to becoming more philanthropically active, they also have an opportunity to challenge members to work more ethically by effectively partnering with grantees, as well as to leverage their resources for civic engagement in their communities by participating in volunteer work and advocacy efforts.

Amplifier has also learned that giving circles are sustained, in part, by building close-knit communities that keep people coming back year after year. The giving circles also become outlets for deep spiritual and cultural fulfillment.

The Giving Circle Institute kicked off with two-day learning retreat in New York City last Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 7-8, led by faculty members Tamara Tweel, Lisa Exler, and Suzanne Feinspan. After the retreat, each giving circle will then design and implement a new initiative designed to sustain their circle over time. Once the program is completed, each giving circle leader will prepare a case study about their initiative to share with Amplifier’s giving circle network. This year’s Institute cohort includes the following giving circle leaders:

Miriam Bader (New York; Entwine Giving Circle), Ross Berkowitz (Philadelphia; Tribe12 Fellowship Alumni Giving Circle), Gene Binder (Boulder, Colo.; Olive Branch Giving Circle), Lindsay Bressman (Brooklyn, N.Y.; Hannah Senesh Giving Circle), Madeline Chaleff (Palo Alto, Calif.; Chai Giving Circle), Lauren Dranoff (Philadelphia; Tribe12 Fellowship Alumni Giving Circle), Shelby Ebert (New York; Atid), Shari Edelstein (Boulder, Colo.; Olive Branch Giving Circle), Natalyia Eidelman (Philadelphia; Tribe12 Fellowship Alumni Giving Circle), Mindy Freedman (Los Angeles; The SAM Initiative), Shannyn Gelbart (Melbourne, Australia; Australian Jewish Funders), Andrea Kovalsky (New York; Entwine Giving Circle), Susan Leff (Burlington, Vt.; Vermont Jewish Yo-pros Giving Circle), Sonia Marie Leikam (Portland, Ore.; OJCF Giving Council), Breanne Matloff (New York; Atid), Danielle Meshorer (San Francisco; San Francisco Jewish Women’s Fund), Michelle Ohayon (Los Angeles; The SAM Initiative), Naomi Sage (New York; Entwine Giving Circle), Amy Saltzman (Chicago; Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), Rebecca Shomair (Palo Alto, Calif.; Chai Giving Circle), Samantha Wallace (Houston; Venture Philanthropy), Ariel Weiss (Cincinnati; Jewish Innovation Fund), and Amanda Winer (New York; Challah for Hunger Alumni Giving Circle).

“We know that giving circles are a powerful, accessible model for intentional philanthropy. Up until now, we've helped dozens of leaders launch brand-new giving circles - so how can we help sustain these giving communities and strengthen them over time? The Institute is a new curriculum that will help circle leaders to build resilient, thoughtful experiences for their members,” said Amplifier Executive Director Joelle Berman. “The Institute will equip circle leaders with what they need to make a bigger impact together.”

About Amplifier: 

Amplifier is a global network of giving circles motivated by Jewish values. Amplifier is designed to strengthen and significantly expand the field of giving circles by educating circle members on best practices in collective philanthropy, and creating a platform to connect NGOs and Jewish giving circles to each other efficiently and effectively.

Edited by: JV Staff