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Self-proclaimed philanthropy disruptor speaks in Grand Rapids on National Philanthropy Day

Sara Lomelin
Philanthropy Together
Sara Lomelin

Sara Lomelin, CEO of Philanthropy Together, spoke at the Council of Michigan Foundations annual conference Tuesday explaining how individuals pooling their money in ‘giving circles’ is one way to democratize giving.

The Council of Michigan Foundations hosted its annual conference in Grand Rapids Tuesday on National Philanthropy Day.

Keynote speaker, Sara Lomelin CEO of Philanthropy Together, spoke with WGVU’s Patrick Center about philanthropy’s need to diversify. She explains individuals pooling their money in ‘giving circles’ is one way to democratize giving.

“For a long time, diverse communities and I'm talking about, you know, the black community, the Latino community, the Asian community, the LGBTQ community.

We have been seen as recipients of philanthropy. But not as philanthropists ourselves. And we are a very generous community. We just need to be invited the table. I worked for many years with Latino giving circles in California. When I was inviting people to be part of giving circles some folks with telling me, ‘Oh, my God, you are the very first person who asked me to be part of something like this. I lot of times we have been invisible to traditional philanthropy. So, the very first thing that I would say for people is to not make assumptions of who can give and who cannot give, because you will be surprised.”

And you find that there is power in giving - for and by - diverse communities?

“Totally because, you know, especially a lot of the people that are part of these giving circles are part of the local communities themselves and the communities that they are serving. Right? So, they have a special insight in what is needed in the community. And what, you know, research have seen is that giving circles are not only important for mobilizing money to different causes, but they are the civic engagement incubators. Once you make people aware of the needs of their community, people cannot go back. Once you see what you can do as an individual especially as a group of individuals, you will get more and more involved in different aspects of democracy and of civic engagement in your community.”

Philanthropy Together CEO Sara Lomelin, thank you so much. Thank you, Patrick

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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