The popularity of giving circles -- a form of philanthropy where donors with shared values pool their money to fund specific causes or organizations -- has exploded in recent years. In partnership with Grapevine, we’re spotlighting several circles that are centering equity in their work and addressing the root causes of social issues. 

Meet Liberated Capital: A Decolonizing Wealth Project Fund.

Tell us about the purpose of your giving circle. 

Liberated Capital supports Indigenous, Black, and other people-of-color-led initiatives working for transformative social change. This fund aims to move untethered resources to help shape a future in which we can all heal from generations of colonial trauma and thrive in our cultures. Only 8% of funding goes to communities of color - our fund is seeking to address this philanthropic injustice by prioritizing our support to Black and Indigenous-led organizations. 

Please share more about the leadership of your giving circle. Who started it and why?

Our giving circle was started by Edgar Villanueva, a globally-recognized activist and philanthropist, and author of the award-winning book, Decolonizing Wealth, which offers compelling alternatives to the dynamics of colonization in the philanthropic and social finance sectors. Decolonizing Wealth Project launched in 2018 to put the principles in the book to work. 

What progress have you made so far? 

We have more than 200 members, many who give monthly. We also have received donations from 1,420 individuals and philanthropic institutions that have contributed alongside the members. We’ve raised over $1,260,900 for 91 Native and Black-led organizations - including a rapid response effort we launched to support Native American communities impacted by the pandemic.

Why did you choose the giving circle model?

Liberated Capital is so much more than a giving circle or a fund. It works to create a community, an experience, and a commitment to a process of healing for all of us and our histories to money. Often, when individuals with wealth commit to a process of learning and owning their relationship to money, it is done in spaces with their peers of similar age, socio-economic backgrounds, and race. Liberated Capital bridges individuals with wealth together with communities that have been harmed by how that wealth was accumulated. 

We invite white people to give alongside Black, Indigenous and other people of color in a way that both centers the BIPOC experience, while also guiding all of our members on a reparations journey.  This aims to be a transformational process that incorporates Indigenous practices of healing that advances our collective healing.

What does impact and success look like to you?

Our work aims to help donors give equitably, exercising the value of reciprocity. We are reshaping how resources are moved, how decisions are made, and what accountability can mean for those at both the giving and receiving side of funds. In addition to growing our membership and the amount of giving, we want to see our members deepen their commitment and leadership around racial healing.

What do you want potential donors to know about giving circles and the issue you’re addressing?

People of color are givers - not just beneficiaries of philanthropy.  Indigenous people were the first philanthropists on this land. We are creating a multi-racial, cross-class space that centers the wisdom and perspective of those most impacted by historical and systemic racism. Joining our circle is about joining the fight. It’s not about charity, it’s about radical solidarity, truth, and reconciliation.  

How can donors get involved with your giving circle or generally participate in the giving circle movement?

Jump in - join Liberated Capital to be part of this movement. Money can be used as medicine.  Using your money to repair, to heal, to support communities of color is the right thing to do - and you don’t have to have tons of it to be a philanthropist. Together, our efforts add up to a lot and make a significant difference.