Giving circles all over the country are using their unique strengths as a collective giving network to support their local communities in light of COVID-19. Read on to hear how one giving circle in Howard County, Maryland — the Women's Giving Circle of Howard County — is taking action right now.

We will continue exploring the path forward in providing relief to our community and look forward to leveraging our strengths as a giving circle and working with others to make a bigger difference together than we might otherwise make alone" said WGC Chair Barb Van Winkle.

10 ways the WGC utilized its strengths to respond to COVID-19:

  1. Quickly planned with our Advisory Board to communicate with our donors, nonprofit partners, and the community that we were taking this public health crisis seriously, canceling events, and continuing our work remotely.
  2. Decided to set aside additional funds to focus on our nonprofit partners and the broader community in the coming weeks and months.
  3. Determined we would broaden the scope of our grantmaking and Emergency Response Network at this critical time to stay nimble and flexible in order to be as responsive as possible to growing community needs.
  4. Focused on leveraging the strength of our Emergency Response Network to learn of and highlight needs, accept donations, and provide funding quickly.
  5. Engaged our Young Women's Giving Circle to support our nonprofit partners through their Spring Feminine Product Drive.
  6. Committed to regular communication, transparency, and amplifying our collective voice – among our leadership, donors, prospective donors, funder and nonprofit partners, the media, and the broader community, through both traditional and social media.
  7. Joined forces with local funding community partners – The Community Foundation of Howard County, Horizon Foundation, and United Way of Central Maryland - to rapidly raise funds and deploy critical resources to nonprofits in Howard County through the newly created - with the initial goal of raising at least $100,000 by early April and giving grants by mid-April.
  8. Prioritized connecting regularly with our statewide funding community through our regional association of grantmakers, Maryland Philanthropy Network, to learn and share together.
  9. Looked to regularly connect with national funding resources focused on the coronavirus, including our collective giving partners at Philanos and Philanthropy Together, and our national regional association partner United Philanthropy Forum.
  10. Have chosen to participate in #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity, set to take place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

About WGC: Launched in 2002, the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County, Maryland is building a community of philanthropists and creating a permanent legacy to address the needs of women and girls in Howard County, Maryland. We bring women together to learn about issues impacting our community, and pool our dollars to fund programs that address those issues. The WGC’s grant focus is on programs that increase the life skills of women and girls, encourage the healthy development and personal authority of young girls and raise the awareness of gender disparities in our community. This giving circle has raised over $1 million from over 1,000 donors over 19 years, and has given over $500,000 through over 100 grants to nonprofits that support women and girls in our community.

Are you a giving circle and have an interesting story or perspective to share more broadly? Reach out: