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RDLN Participates in 52nd Commission on the Status of Women

"Want to be a Philanthropist?
Empower Rural Women Through Giving Circles"
Written Statement by Shirley McClain

I am Shirley W. McClain from Holly Springs, North Carolina in the United States of America.  I am the Issues Coordinator for Rural Development Leadership Network, the convener of this workshop.  I have worked as a rural development practitioner in low-income communities for many years.

The women I worked with were poor, hard working women trying to rear their children the best way possible.  These women learned that they had the power to influence good changes in their lives.  They learned that they had resources and assets.  What they did not know is that they were philanthropists.  Yes they were.  Not only did they help themselves, but they organized to help others.

Rural Giving Circles and Philanthropy

• If you are giving your time, treasure, and talent, you are already a philanthropist.

• Giving Circles provide opportunities for groups of women to combine their resources in order to accomplish things in their community.

A giving circle usually begins with one individual gathering a small, informal, like-minded group whose members share a desire to:

   1. Leverage their individual giving

   2. Participate in a social network of people who share similar interests    and values

   3. Form social justice organizing groups to advocate for their needs

   4. Decide where their money is invested

These informal groups make their rules.  They decide what financial contribution members make, who their beneficiaries will be, and how often money is given. This is a great model for rural women to use to help with financing and empowerment.

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