It’s About Community

From Red Cross Chat

By Wendy Harman, American Red Cross.image

I’ve been reading with interest Sarah Hall’s recent guest posts on Sean Stannard-Stockton’s Tactical Philanthropy blog. Her analysis centers around how women become effective philanthropists and what makes them engaged.

I mention these posts here because this week we’re hosting our Tiffany Circle Summit for women donors. These are women from all over the country who have invested $10,000 in the American Red Cross. The women have a packed schedule of events this week, and their impact over time has been felt throughout the organization.

With the Tiffany Circle, we are engaging women in many of the ways Sarah Hall is discussing.

Sarah Hall mentions 6 principles of Women’s high-engagement philanthropy. If you’re a woman and a budding or established donor/philanthropist, do you identify with these principles?

1. Women are passionate about their cause and they often come to it through an intense and meaningful personal experience.

2. Women act as connectors as well as grantmakers, linking partners, allies, advocates, and grantees. Building relationships and networks is a key component of women’s philanthropy.

3. Women are willing to start at the beginning, allowing their energy for the mission to propel them through the earliest learning stages. They become deeply engaged in the process of learning, are willing to be perceived as novices, and tend to be open not only to ideas, but to getting things done in unconventional ways.

4. Women’s philanthropy combines rigor with intuition. At an Association of Small Foundations lunch workshop in Los Angeles last week the attendees, all women, talked about how they balance due diligence with intuition, especially intuition about a grantee’s leadership qualities. “You can’t use metrics alone,” they said. “You have to use your judgment about people.”

5. Women are not only willing to mentor and share, they seek opportunities to do so. They engage the community of other philanthropists, grantees, and partners, and share their stories to inspire and guide others.

6. Finally, women use their philanthropy to enrich family life and promote connection—within the family, with the larger community, with the world. So their family philanthropy is not only a means to pay a debt to society and reinforce a family’s personal values and culture, but also a way for their children to have a direct experience of giving to the larger community, an experience that helps them become more fulfilled adults.

To find out more about our local Tiffany Circle, visit


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