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Sara Lomelin: Community, Identity & Collective Philanthropy


In this episode we speak to Sara Lomelin, founding CEO of Philanthropy Together, about the rise of giving circles and the intersection between philanthropy, community and identity


  • (credit: Bryan Patrick Photography)

    How did Philanthropy Together come about, and what is the organisation’s mission?

  • Who gets involved in giving circles? Are they different from”typical donors”?
  • Do collective giving models appeal more to younger donors?
  • What different approaches to giving circles take to decision-making?
  • Are there models of collective giving that bring recipients into the decision making process as well as donors?
  • How much collective giving takes place through long-term giving circles, and how much is through shorter-term “pop-up” collaborations? Is it possible to combine the strengths of both of these approaches?
  • Are giving circles more likely to give to smaller grassroots orgs that might be perceived as “risky” by institutional funders?
  • Can collective giving models help to make philanthropy more justice-focussed?
  •  Can collective giving help to build a sense of shared identity, or does it rely on there being a pre-existing sense of identity around which a group can be formed?
  • How do identity-based groups accommodate intersectional identities?
  • Does collective giving build social capital? If so, is it merely “bonding” social capital or also “bridging”?
  • The internet allows us to form communities of interest, identity or purpose that are not tied to geographic boundaries- in this context, is there still a meaningful relationship between ‘place’ and ‘community’?
  • How can we learn more effectively from other cultures of giving where collective or horizontal models are more common?
  • What is the relationship between collective giving and mutual aid? Is it more common to see a focus on notions such as solidarity when people are giving collectively?
  • Do collective giving models address some of the concerns about the potentially anti-democratic nature of elite philanthropy?
  • Should elite philanthropy fund collective giving models in recognition of their unique value? Or should elite philanthropists adopt practices and insights from collective giving?

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