Amplifier is the first concerted effort to unite Jewish giving circles into a field, catalyze the creation of new circles, educate circle members on best practices in philanthropy, and connect giving circles to each other and to grant seekers of all types efficiently and effectively through an innovative new web platform.
Giving circles are groups of people who pool their charitable donations and decide together where to allocate their money. Research shows that members of giving circles give more, give more strategically, and are more engaged in their communities than non-members.
This past summer’s Connected to Give: Community Circles report (Jumpstart, 2014) demonstrated that giving circles are also particularly strong among affinity groups, such as those connected by religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or age.
Supported by a pilot grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Natan convened dozens of partners from across the Jewish philanthropic and nonprofit sectors over several months to co-design Amplifier’s web platform and in-person training and mentoring programs.
More than 30 giving circles and over 100 nonprofit organizations have registered on the web platform during its beta phase, and the number is growing every day.
"People are craving a meaningful experience with giving, and giving circles can provide just that," says Felicia Herman, Natan’s executive director. "So much of giving is reactive – we give because we get a solicitation in the mail or our friends ask us to donate to their favorite cause.
"Giving circles, by contrast, are proactive: they enable members to discover their giving passions and then to give in way that is transparent, intentional, hands-on, and social – no matter how much money they have or what types of causes they want to support."
Amplifier’s in-person and online resources make it as simple as possible for anyone to start, grow, and sustain a giving circle and to connect with excellent potential grant recipients and with other giving circles.
Trainings, coaching, conferences, and events complement a unique interactive web platform, www.AmplifierGiving.org, that offers searchable directories of giving circles and nonprofit organizations, giving circle management tools, a growing Resource Library, and a Common Grant Application for grant seekers.
"Giving circles are for everyone," says Lynn Schusterman, chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. "They inspire people at all levels of giving to come together with a community of friends or family and to wrestle with how to bring Jewish wisdom to bear on contemporary issues of all kinds.
"We are investing in Amplifier because we believe that giving circles can be a powerful pathway for engaging with Jewish life and values, as well as for ensuring a vibrant future for Jewish philanthropy."
Amplifier is also intended to benefit nonprofit organizations, to make it easier for them to raise funds from giving circles and even to start their own circles.
"The Common Grant Application and Organization Directory make spreading the word about our work and connecting to potential sources of support incredibly efficient,” says Rachel Ishofsky at Innovation: Africa. "Submitting one application on Amplifier’s site not only saves us time but also showcases our work to a broad landscape of potential supporters."