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CFP Executive Director Bob Wittig Shares Three Ways to Join the Collective Giving Movement


Recently, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Giving Circle of Hope’s event. One of the topics I was asked to speak about was the role and impact of collective giving.

Collective giving aggregates all-sizes of donations. Pooling together donations of $25, $50, or $100 can quickly add up to thousands of dollars and together have a greater impact for the recipient nonprofit.

Collective giving is an emerging force of philanthropy in our country. It is helping to democratize and diversify philanthropy, engage new donors, and increase local giving.

As we enter the season of giving, here are three ways you can join the collective-giving movement:

  1. Join a Giving Circle. Giving Circles are one of the fastest forms of collective giving in the United States. Since 2007, the number of Giving Circles in the US has tripled and it’s estimated that nearly $1.5 billion has been donated to the nonprofit sector by Giving Circles over the past 10 years and that number continues to grow dramatically. Being part of a Giving Circle is a terrific way to give back, pool your donation with others for grantmaking, and meet like-minded people who want to do good through philanthropic efforts.
  2. Give on Giving Days. Giving Days, such as Giving Tuesday and Do More 24, are opportunities to donate with thousands of others over a specified period of time. Giving Tuesday is on November 27th this year and many nonprofits participate in this day of giving all across the country. In the DC region, the Catalogue for Philanthropy is the Giving Tuesday community leader and will feature and promote over 200 nonprofits.
  3. Start a GoFundMe or Facebook Campaign. Another way to join the collective giving movement is to set up a donation page for a cause that you support and invite people to reach a giving goal. I’ve seen more Facebook users ask their connections to donate money to a cause instead of giving birthday or wedding presents.

If you already donate to a cause, collective giving may be a way for you to leverage your giving with others. If you don’t currently give to a cause, collective giving might be a great place to launch your career in philanthropy!

To learn about amazing nonprofits in your area check out the Catalogue for Philanthropy where you will find over 400+ nonprofits. Each nonprofit’s programs and financials have been vetted before earning the Catalogue’s seal.

Join the movement!

7 Questions with Eloise Russo, Executive Director of City Kids Wilderness Project

Today for 7 Questions we welcome Eloise Russo, Executive Director of City Kids Wilderness Project! Eloise has been with the organization since January 2011. Prior to City Kids, Eloise worked with Institute for Non-Profit Management and Leadership in Boston, MA, and with Kaplan K-12 Learning Services, managing after-school and summer school programs for 800 under-served DC youth. Eloise earned her BA from Tufts University in Peace and Justice Studies, and her MBA from Boston University’s Public and Non-Profit Management Program. Most recently, Eloise was selected as a member of the 2012 class of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington’s Future Executive Directors Fellowship.

1. Welcome Eloise! What motivated you to begin working with City Kids? What need does it fulfill and how is your organization working towards meeting this need?

I started with City Kids Wilderness Project (City Kids) shortly after graduating from business school. I grew up in DC, attended public school K-12, and wanted to join an organization doing community building and youth development work with DC youth. In addition, summer camp and wilderness experiences through Outward Bound were critical in helping shape my view of the world and my abilities and confidence as a leader. Joining the City Kids team allowed me to combine my passions for youth development and wilderness programming with my background in program management and organizational development.

2. What was your most interesting recent development?

City Kids works closely with many other nonprofits and social service organizations in order to open doors for our youth. For many years, we have had a strong partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), through which many of our youth have received scholarships to attend NOLS wilderness courses. One of our youth, Tyrhee Moore, successfully completed two NOLS courses and is now being sponsored to climb Denali in Alaska as a part of Expedition Denali. This is an all African American climb designed to help inspire youth of color to get outside, get active, and become stewards of our wild places. Tyrhee grew up as a part of the City Kids program, is now a student at West Virginia University, and is a mentor and role model for our younger youth.

3. What other projects are you up to?

We just moved out to Jackson, WY for the summer, where we run programming for our DC youth. We’ll have three sessions of summer camp where campers will go horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, and white water rafting. Camp is a fun-filled time for our youth and includes camping trips to National Forests and National Parks including Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

4. Who inspires you (in the philanthropy world or otherwise)?

My biggest inspiration is our kids and seeing them grow and challenge themselves through the City Kids program. Our kids consistently step outside of their comfort zones to try new things, be it rock climbing, jumping off a ledge as a part of a high ropes course, or applying for and participating in their first internship or job experience. Being a part of an organization where trying new things is built into the structure of our work, encourages all of us, staff and kids alike, to take on big challenges and to not be afraid to fail.

5. What is the single greatest challenge that your organization faces, and how are you working towards combating this issue?

We’re growing! City Kids started as a summer camp for DC youth in 1996, and in the past several years, we have expanded to become a year-round program. We now have a four day per week after-school program for our middle school youth, weekend outdoor adventure programming, and leadership development, job training, and post-secondary educational and career support for our older youth. As we grow our programs and the length of time that we work with each child enrolled in the program, we need to work hard to ensure that our focus on program quality continues to be high and that we continue to be able to provide individualized support to our youth. In addition, as our programs grow, we have also needed to focus on growing our organizational capacity in order to support our increased efforts. To support this growth, we applied and were recently selected for a Fair Chance capacity building partnership. We are excited about what this year will bring and look forward to building the strength of the organization so that we can continue to provide high quality programming for under-resourced DC youth for years to come.

6. What’s your biggest take-away lesson you would tell others that you have gleaned from your experiences?

Build and nurture your network! I recently participated in the Nonprofit Roundtable’s Future Executive Director Fellowship and have been blown away by the support of my peers through this fellowship. Having a strong network of people to go to for support, to bounce ideas off of, and to share resources with makes the role much more manageable and makes your potential impact that much greater.

My biggest lesson that I learned is that it really helps to absolutely love what you’re doing. Being an ED is a demanding role, but when you love what you’re doing, it can also be a really fun role. On any given day I can have a funding meeting, conversations with a parent, a meeting with our accounting team, a conference call with board members, a program site visit or even be directly involved in leading our youth programming. Having a strong belief in the mission, and an innate enthusiasm for the role, helps to make the breadth of the responsibilities of the ED role more personally fulfilling and ultimately helps make me a better leader and advocate for the organization.

7. What’s next for your organization, both in the short term and long term?

In the short term, we’re focused on revamping our evaluation system. Working with kids for 6+ years includes many important milestones and being able to track our participants’ growth over time and their ability to meet goals is crucial. In the long term, we’re focused on creating a sustainable organizational structure. This involves formalizing many of our program and organizational systems as well as being really thoughtful about our growth, financial model, and community of supporters.

Fearless Changemakers Surround Us

By Michael Smith, Senior Vice President — Social Innovation, The Case Foundation

Earlier this year, we at the Case Foundation declared our intention to Be Fearless in all that we do. As we reflected on the 15 years since Jean and Steve Case created the Foundation, we realized that we — and our partners — were best when we were willing to dream big, experiment with new approaches, and admit our failures so that we could learn from them. We were best when we were fearless.

In a time when social challenges seem to be getting bigger and more complex, those of us charged with finding and funding solutions cannot be satisfied with the status quo. In a world where athletes, entrepreneurs, and explorers are all supposed to be fearless, for some reason many leaders responsible for lifting up communities and changing the world for the better have often become safe, incremental, measured, and sometimes slow to act. It’s time to change the game. That’s why not only have we declared our intention to Be Fearless, but we are committed to inviting others to help us define a fearless approach to social change, to spread the concept far and wide, to learn and experiment together, and to uncover the fearless changemakers and change movements already happening in communities in the US and around the world.

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Volunteering in America

By Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

Over the past few weeks, Sherika Brooks and I have ventured “into the field” with a handful of Catalogue nonprofits –sorting books, promoting clean water, and serving meals. We are not alone in engaging in volunteer work in our community. Across the United States, over 60 million people spent time volunteering last year, contributing nearly $173 billion worth of value to their communities. In the District, about 30% of adults volunteer, and the same is true for Maryland and Virginia — which is just above the national average of 26.5%.

So who volunteers in America? Sherika and I fit the typical volunteer profile in some ways, but not others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, women volunteered more than men and middle- and older-aged adults are most likely to volunteer. (We broke the trend for adults in their early twenties, who are least likely to volunteer among all age groups.) Another interesting trend is that “individuals with higher levels of educational attainment engaged in volunteer activities at higher rates than did those with less education. Among persons age 25 and over, 42.4 percent of college graduates volunteered, compared with 18.2 percent of high school graduates and 9.8 percent of those with less than a high school diploma.” A majority of those who volunteer dedicate their time to one or two organizations, one of which is often religiously affiliated. Among all volunteers, the most common activities are fundraising and providing meals.

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7 Questions – Elisabeth Crum (Sewall-Belmont House & Museum)

Today on “7 Questions,” we welcome … Elisabeth Crum, the Public Programs & Outreach Manager at The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, which celebrates women’s progress toward equality and explores the evolving role of women and their contributions to society.

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

On September 22, 2010, The Sewall-Belmont House & Museum presented the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, with the Alice Award in recognition of the barriers she broke for women in becoming the first female leader of a major political party and the first female Speaker of the House. In front of more than 200 women and men, Speaker Pelosi underscored Alice Paul’s enduring commitment to achieving equality and encouraged all who were present to uphold her legacy until we meet the goal. It was inspirational to see Speaker Pelosi with her daughter and granddaughter and know that generations of women can look up to the Speaker and truly believe that women can fill the ranks of power in politics.

2. What else are you up to?

I am thrilled to say that we have a very exciting workshop in our career skill-building series coming up on October 11, 2010. Titled ‘Yes, Please! The Art of Etiquette,’ this event will highlight Amy Zantzinger, former White House Social Secretary under President Bush, and Laura Schwartz, former White House Director of Events under President Clinton. I cannot wait to learn tricks of the trade and maybe catch a few White House social secrets as well.

3. Is there a moment, person, or event that inspired you to do this particular work?

I was raised by a single woman who put herself through undergraduate and graduate schools after I was born. My mother showed me the challenges that women in society face and instilled in me the passion to work for equality so that no woman or family would have to struggle as we did.

4. Who is your hero in the nonprofit/philanthropy world?

Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women, is one of my personal heroes. Terry’s breadth of knowledge on everything from the state of the industry to the specific behaviors and expectations of direct mail and issue-based campaigns is awe-inspiring to me. She knows the history and boldly forges a path for the future of women’s rights activists, and I am grateful for her courage and conviction.

5. What is the single greatest (and non-financial) challenge to the work that you do every day?

The single greatest daily challenge for me is facing blatant historical inaccuracies. There are so many important stories to be told about this House, the women who lived and worked here and the National Woman’s Party, and so often the stories are presented inaccurately if at all. It saddens me that Alice Paul is not one of the main historical figures we learn about in public schools. Correcting these inaccuracies and sharing the inspiring message of the National Woman’s Party motivates me every day to do all that I can to ensure that women’s history is not forgotten and that we continue to learn the lessons of the past.

6. What advice do you have for other people who want to work in your field?

I got my start in nonprofits interning in development, which was a smart idea because every organization relies on fundraising and usually these are the available jobs. I would encourage people to figure out what issues they are passionate about and look for work in organizations with missions that align with their passions. It helps if you are always willing to help out, learn a new skill, and take on a new challenge — plus these practices make you invaluable to the organization.

7. What’s next?

I am so thrilled to be responsible for celebrating women’s progress toward equality and educating the public about the history of women’s suffrage and equal rights. We have a great deal of work to do, but I am proud to be a part of the organization that will ensure that Alice Paul’s legacy is written back into American history and that her dream of women?s equality is achieved.

EXTRA: If you could have a power breakfast with any three people (living, dead, or fictional) who would they be?

My three companions at a power breakfast would be Alice Paul, Queen Elizabeth I, and my mother. Alice Paul and Queen Elizabeth I were a couple of the strongest, smartest, and most capable feminist women in history; passionate about their missions and dedicated ceaselessly to the achievement of their goals. They are among the strongest historical female role models I can imagine, and it would be an honor to speak with them. As my personal inspiration and most trusted mentor, my mother would have to be present as well, especially for her ability to bring laughter and a love of life to any situation.

In The News …

Welcome to Wednesday, Greater Washington! Just passing along some mid-week buzz from the non-profit news and blogsphere …

2010 Exponent Awards (Meyer Foundation) - many congratulations go out to the five incredible winners of the Exponent Awards, recognizing visionary non-profit leadership. Click here to learn more about the winners, four of whom lead Catalogue charities!

Urban Agriculture Challenge: Communities Helping Themselves (With Delicious Results!) – check out and the Huffington Post to learn how urban agriculture programs are improving food security, employment, and health in their communities and how online fundraising challenges are supporting their (tasty) aims.

Finding a Balance – The Philanthropic Initiative’s blog has sparked a multi-blog, multi-website debate on the “quantitative or technocratic elements of philanthropy” versus the “more amorphous elements,” such as values and emotional responses. Check it out! (More thoughts to come from here…)

Signal on DC education reform - the Washington Post is rerunning this Sunday’s opinion piece by former DC Council member Kevin P. Chavous regarding the future of DC schools and education reform under Vincent Gray. He argues that “maybe the change will provide the impetus we need.” What do you think?

Who Manages Your Group’s Facebook Page? – join the discussion over at As social media becomes ever more prevalent and powerful, who should be the organization’s online voice? Or need it have only one?