AAPIP Voices

Inspiration from the AAPIP Giving Circle Convening 2015


In October 2015, representatives of AAPIP Giving Circles gathered in Los Angeles for their annual national convening.  Together, they shared stories, discussed strategies, and looked forward to the future of giving within their circles. Three of our attendees shared their thoughts and reflections on the convening, which you can read here on our blog.

Pamela Hung, Saffron Circle

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the 2015 AAPIP Giving Circle Convening. As a native of southern California, I was also lucky to be back at home in Los Angeles! This was my first convening and since I’m also a relatively new member to Saffron Circle, it was a novel experience.

The first thing I noticed was how open and welcoming everyone was. It was inspiring to hear the unique stories about how folks had first heard about and became involved in their giving circles. It was also fascinating to learn about the great diversity of giving circles represented, from circles celebrating their 10th anniversary to circles with national reach to circles organized by youth. Giving circles can exist in all shapes and sizes!

My favorite part of the convening was the conversation about the future of the AAPIP Giving Circle Network. As we approach the end of the 5-year Giving Circle Campaign, this convening was an opportunity to reflect and brainstorm together on the giving circle movement. In our focus groups, we were asked to identify the strengths of our respective giving circles. I continually pointed to the informal and laidback nature of Saffron Circle as one of its greatest strengths. Though we have governance and review processes in place, at the end of the day, we are a group of friends who simply want to give back to the Greater Boston AAPI community.

However, by the end of the focus groups, I was sending a different message: that giving circles should strive to become institutionalized in their communities to ensure long-term sustainability. As a Program Associate at The Boston Foundation, a 100-year-old community foundation, I saw the benefits of having a permanent established network committed to AAPI empowerment and philanthropy.  Moreover, The Boston Foundation and Saffron Circle have recently been exploring more routes of partnership to enhance long-term giving to the Greater Boston AAPI community.

Should AAPI giving circles maintain their grassroots feel or strive towards more institutionalized models? Can these two elements exist in harmony? Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) recently issued a report which also raises this issue about how the culture of a philanthropic entity deeply affects its mission execution. The answers are not yet clear to me, but having met so many fantastic people invested in enhancing AAPI giving at the convening, I’m confident and optimistic about the future of AAPI philanthropy.

I’m glad I had this opportunity to attend the convening and be a part of this empowering AAPI giving movement. Being with this group raised important questions about the AAPI philanthropy, and it’s inspiring that there are so many others along this same exciting journey.