Two weeks ago, I headed to San Francisco for the weekend to co-represent one of Los Angeles’ three giving circles, The Circle of Change. I joined members of 15 other giving circles from across the country to connect with other donor-activists, share our circle’s methodology and learn best practices from others, as part of AAPIP’s National Convening. It was a weekend that reinvigorated my commitment to social justice and helped me carve out a path toward action—a path not just for me to follow myself, but one I can travel as part of a larger community.
AAPIP executed one of the most exciting and inspiring morning meetings ever to open a conference. The speakers included Eugene Cho of One Day’s Wages; DREAM Activists David Cho, Catherine Eusebio and Ju Hong; and even San Francisco’s first Asian mayor, Ed Lee.
I can still hear some of their and the other speakers’ words…
“We believe in the value of humanity, that every single person matters.”
“For undocumented students, the most basic form of civil disobedience is to get an education.
“Your activism protects our democracy.”
There were several standing ovations. There were also tears and laughter. The inspiring words set an assertive tone and called on us to take charge, take action and make change. The audience of nearly 150 people were pumped as a cohort of giving circle leaders were reassembled in another room to learn about each others’ work. Personally, I was ready.
Attendees were diverse, and included individuals from giving circles as different and far-flung as the Cherry Blossom Circle in Washington D.C., the Muslim Women’s Giving Circle in San Francisco, the Asian American Giving Circle of Greater Houston, and the Asian Mosaic Fund in Philadelphia. Some members had been in their giving circles for ten years while others were just beginning their first day there at the conference and were still figuring out a name!
Our giving circles are addressing the challenges faced by Asian, Asian American, South Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Right now, AAPI communities aren’t getting enough funding or attention from the government or foundations—and giving circles are working to fill that void. Our circles are the beginning of a movement of democratic philanthropy. Eventually our 15 circles will grow to twenty, thirty, forty and fifty—our goal.
It was so clear to me that my individual giving was now part not only of a circle of giving, but also part of a larger circle of change. I am grateful for AAPIP being the catalyst for the giving circle gathering and for this movement.
Postscript: In the dozen or so days since the AAPIP conference, I’ve already signed a petition to prevent the deportation of a Dream Activist, donated a gift to One Day’s Wages and am preparing materials so I can ask our Circle of Change to consider giving to the group Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education (ASPIRE). And I can’t wait to do more!
Kristin Aldana-Taday is the Deputy Director of Donor Services for Liberty Hill Foundation and a member of the Circle of Change, a giving circle committed to creating positive social change in the Southern California AAPI community.