The Katy Community Giving Circle: Transforming our Giving and Community
Nathalie Morton grew up in Dubuque, Iowa and now lives with her family in Katy, Texas. She has been married to her husband for 29 years and they have two daughters, Kayla & Kinsey, and one son, David Jr.
This post is one in a series featuring the thoughts and opinions of Giving Circle Fund’s members and partners.
Until September 2015, I had never heard of a “giving circle.” That year, my family moved to Texas from a small Wisconsin town, and I was looking for a way to connect with my new Katy, Texas community.
Prior to moving Katy, I was involved with a pediatric cancer foundation in my previous home, so when my friend Brian shared an idea on Facebook about creating a “charity pool” for childhood cancer awareness month, I offered to help.
Brian’s idea for this new group was that it would be open to anyone in the community with no specific identity, background or belief, but with one group goal: help others. Members would each contribute $10 per month, and the group would give collectively to a single charity.
The problem was that neither Brian nor I knew how to organize a group like that, so naturally, I relied on a Google search to look for ways to grow such a group that could give collaboratively. My searches kept bringing me to one common term: ‘giving circle’. At the top of the list of suggestions for “giving circles” was www.givingcirclesfund.org.
My first impression was that Giving Circles Fund checked all of the boxes to be what we were looking for — a reliable way for our members to automatically donate, opportunities to share knowledge — but I was still cautiously optimistic. This new circle was going to be made up of people we may not know personally and we would be asking them to trust us, so a dependable platform was critical.
I set up a phone call meeting with a GCF representative, Kailyn, and she took the time — nearly an hour — to answer all my questions. I sent an email to Brian that evening and said, “This sounds like exactly what we need!”
A few days later, we created our circle and nominated our first organization for a grant. We started reaching out to our community in 2015 and slowly began adding members. We held our first circle meeting in January 2016 and besides the two members I knew — my husband David and my friend Brian — the members and I were meeting for the first time. Any concerns or doubts I had about making our new circle successful were gone by the end of that meeting. Everyone in the room was enthusiastic and excited about the possibilities of all we could achieve collectively, compared to what we might have done alone. It was the confirmation we needed that a simple idea shared on a Facebook page could really make a big impact in our community!
Two years later, we continue to grow our circle and expand our giving. Since our inception, the Katy Community Giving Circle (originally called the Cinco Ranch Giving Circle) has given three grants totaling almost $5,000 — and we expect our fourth to be the biggest grant yet as new members continue to join our circle. We’ve expanded our leadership with a Membership Coordinator, Anjana, whose genuine joy and commitment to our circle is truly inspiring.
There have been many moments in the last two years that have given us opportunity to reflect on the impact we are making and take pride in what we have accomplished with just $10 each a month. The monthly $10 our members give — the same $10 that could be spent on coffee, a burger and fries, or a Netflix subscription — has provided therapy for autistic children, an entire year of counseling for an abused child and food deliveries to those in need.
Together, we are growing our understanding of the nonprofit landscape in Katy and the larger Houston area, improving our granting process and making an impact in our community. We are learning alongside GCF, whose representatives continue to welcome suggestions for improvement.
With the help of GCF, we are on a journey to transform our giving and our community in Katy, Texas.
Want to join or start a circle and have questions? Email email@example.com.