Donor profile: New community-directed giving circle formed at Bread & Roses

Members of the EPIP Philadelphia Giving Circle at their monthly meeting in February.

When the members of a new giving circle were looking for a home for their community-directed grantmaking idea, they immediately thought of Bread & Roses. “Our group has a strong social justice orientation, so Bread & Roses seemed like an obvious fit,” said Jenny Weissbourd, chair of the EPIP Philadelphia Giving Circle. The circle is an initiative of the Philadelphia chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), a national network of foundation professionals and social entrepreneurs dedicated to building a just, equitable, and sustainable society.

The EPIP Philadelphia Giving Circle has taken a novel approach to community-directed philanthropy. The circle sought applications from well-connected members of Philadelphia communities to become a “community connector” to inform their grantmaking. Phil Fitzgerald, a member of the giving circle, described this role. “We will learn from them what their community’s needs are, and they will join the giving circle.” This design is intended to put community needs first and funding criteria second.

“We want to shift power dynamics and create a pipeline to fund projects that aren’t easily fundable by large philanthropic institutions,” said Weissbourd.

“This is collective giving,” added Fitzgerald. “Everyone can give.”

This year, the giving circle will award a grant of at least $1,000 to a community initiative identified by the 2015 community connector.

The EPIP Philadelphia Giving Circle is actively recruiting new members, who commit to participating for one year. Members each contribute a minimum of $100 and are also strongly encouraged to fundraise within their networks.

Anyone interested in joining the giving circle or finding out more about it can email