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  • Writer's pictureCaitlin King Khoury

A New Approach to Giving Circles

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

On a pre-COVID family trip to San Diego, my mother-in-law brought me along to a yoga class at her friend Rose Lochmann’s home. Rose is the founder of an organization called The Yoga Difference, a group of predominantly women coming together for yoga classes and retreats.

Rose Lochmann
Above: Rose Lochmann, founder of The Yoga Difference

There’s no official cost to participate in classes with The Yoga Difference, but donations are requested. And, 100 percent of donations go to nonprofits that are “committed to helping oppressed and impoverished women throughout the world.”

To date, The Yoga Difference has raised over $100,000 for organizations such as Women’s Empowerment International, The Fistula Foundation and Generate Hope.

Not only is Rose a fabulous yoga teacher (I may have fallen so fast asleep during shavasana that I needed to be jostled awake), but her organization is making a tangible, positive impact.

This is just one example of a modern, innovative Giving Circle that is making big changes in our world and in people’s lives.

To get a better understanding of this opportunity anyone can take to make a difference, I’d like to dive more into what a Giving Circle is and how you can create one in your community.

What is a Giving Circle?

A Giving Circle is a group of like-minded individuals that get together to create change in their communities, according to Nonprofit Quarterly.

The group talks about their values and they decide together where to put their talent, their time, their treasure and their testimony.

It’s likely that there are numerous Giving Circles in your community already. You can search for Circles on Growfund’s website, or visit the Philanthropy Together Launchpad to start your own.

But, you don’t have to follow the traditional route.

Rose’s Giving Circle is different from the usual methods by offering a service and donating the proceeds. Through this process, Rose has fostered a deep connection between her yoga students and the missions of the organizations they support. And, many participants want to donate more once they realize the impact attending a yoga class can have.

Creative Examples

Rose’s Giving Circle method is truly a win-win. Every Monday morning, these women do their weekly yoga routine – but it’s so much more than that. They gather afterward for bagels and coffee to catch up. They are friends. And, they are philanthropists.

Here are a few more ideas for those that may want to follow in Rose’s footsteps:

  • Have skills in the outdoors? Teach a class and donate the profits to your local Girl Scouts chapter.

  • Like to bake? Hold a sale and social that goes to a great cause.

  • Fancy a wine tasting? Toast with friends while chatting about wine and the causes you care about. Pool your funds to make a joint contribution to a nonprofit.

  • Obsessed with house plants? Create a plant swap that accepts donations to your favorite environmental organization.

  • Know how to dance? Or, maybe teach an exercise class? Online tutorials or in-person classes can be a fun way to raise funds.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but really the potential is limitless.

How to Start Your Own Giving Circle

Traditional Giving Circles take a lot more structure and planning, but you can start this new

modern way of Giving with just the power of social media and your network.

Other tips for Giving Circles:

  • Contact local nonprofits to brainstorm ways you can partner with them. They may be able to help cross-promote your group!

  • Think outside the box. People want to help, and your creativity can create new ways for your friends and family to get involved with something you’re passionate about.

  • Volunteer your time, too. If you aren’t able to create a service, think of ways you can gather your community to help at a local animal shelter or food bank.

Even though most of us don’t have big bucks to donate, we can still pool funds with like-minded people and make a big impact (and have some fun while we’re at it).

And I’ve been chatting with friends about how we can replicate this in Phoenix (any takers?) Maybe it’s a yoga class. Maybe it’s a salon, with speakers representing Valley organizations. There’s so much potential to help our community through this unique giving method.

Thanks to Rose for the inspiration and her support of wonderful organizations!


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