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Let's Give them Something to Talk About – Our Region’s Amazing Giving Circles!

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, November 14, 2016

Blog written by: Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Programs and Initiatives Director



Our region is home to dozens of giving circles that benefit from connecting to and learning from one another about a variety of issues important to giving circles.


On October 27, 2016, ABAG brought together 40 giving circle leaders representing 10 giving circles of various ages and sizes from four states to Annapolis for our eighth Annual Giving Circle Connector Gathering.


We had a wonderful day of learning and sharing with the theme: "Let's Give them Something to Talk About: Communicating with and about your Circle". As in the past, the Gathering provided the opportunity to network, and conversation about resources and best practices on how to sustain, nurture and grow giving circles. Marketing and Communications Specialist Adrienne Peres kicked off the gathering with helpful tips to guide circles in their marketing and communications endeavors.  


This year's event, co-hosted with Anne Arundel Women Giving Together, a giving circle at [ABAG Member] The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, was held at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's beautiful Philip Merrill Environmental Center. John Rodenhausen, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation shared with us some interesting facts about the Center and its green features. Some attendees were founding donors, others new to giving circles. Some had a long history of giving, others were relatively new to philanthropy. But it was clear by the energy in the room all were excited to learn and share about the work they do.


Underscored during the day together is that giving circles are making a great impact!


Our quick in-person survey of the 10 circles present revealed that about 2,248 donors granted $1,207,000 in this last grants cycle. Amazing!


The collective power of giving circles to make change in their communities was clear, as was the passion and dedication of the donors around the tables. While the Gathering didn’t target women or women’s giving circles, all but one of the circles present focus on women or women and girls. It was inspiring to be among women leading efforts to affect change for other women in their communities.


ABAG has spent the last 15 years supporting giving circles because of our mission to promote philanthropy.


Our tagline is "Informing Grantmakers, Improving our Community” and much of our work focuses on assisting members to learn about community needs, possible solutions, and effective and efficient grantmaking to address these needs. Since our formation, ABAG has been interested in promoting philanthropy and cultivating a community of givers, knowing the great needs in the community. Our early hypothesis for championing giving circles was that they would be a terrific way to positively impact the community, as well as a great training ground for philanthropists, which circles (pun intended) back to what ABAG is all about.


We at ABAG are pleased to continue to play a role in bringing our region's giving circle community together. We will continue to be the regional resource and hub of giving circle activity, and look forward to continuing to provide information via our GivingCircleConnector Facebook Page and GivingCircleConnector Twitter page. And, we offer membership for giving circles in the region.


ABAG is proud to serve our region's thriving giving circle community. To learn more about giving circles, visit


Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions!

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers was founded in 1983 to provide a forum in which colleagues could address common problems, approaches and interests.

Our vision is that philanthropy in Maryland will be an integral force in tackling Maryland’s most pressing problems through partnership with government, business and nonprofit decision-makers.
Our mission is to maximize the impact of giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective philanthropists. 

Tags:  giving; giving circles; the giving life 

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