A growing national trend is making a big local impact on philanthropy: Giving circles are forming as a new approach to share and make a social investment.
The ability to inform friends and neighbors and leverage resources was attractive to 5224Good founders, Anne Vandenberg and Mary Westbrook. Westbrook said, "5224Good allows our members an opportunity to have fun while learning about community needs, and enhance the impact of their charitable gifts."
Vandenberg added, "The focus is on learning about the area's needs, issues, ideas and innovations."
Founders seek 100 or more members who pledge a $250 annual membership each year to create a grant for nonprofit organizations. The group also encourages members to contribute to an endowment fund.
Westbrook said, "Imagine 100 members giving $250 a year plus endowment contributions. In 10 years the result could be more than $400,000 in grants and a $750,000 endowment fund that generates $37,500 in grants every year – forever!"
5224Good meets four times a year. One meeting is dedicated to select a focus area; another meeting centers on learning about the focus area. Grant recipients are selected at a third meeting. The membership will learn how the 5224Good funds were used at the fourth meeting.
A majority vote of the membership will determine the focus area each year, Vandenberg said. "This year's focus area is food insecurity. In future years it could be another health and human services area, arts or something for the public good." Grant winners will be announced at the Community Foundation's annual grant award ceremony.
5224Good has strong ties with the Community Foundation of Johnson County. 5224Good membership dues are held in a Charitable Giving Fund and endowment contributions are in Endowment Fund. Both funds are eligible for charitable tax deductions. Contributions to the endowment fund are also eligible for a 25 percent Iowa Tax Credit.
Mike Stoffregen, Community Foundation of Johnson County executive director, said, "The Community Foundation is a catalyst to build a stronger community through philanthropy. We're pleased 5224Good is making social investment in our community. We look forward to working with them."
The 5224Good 12-member council, includes four current Community Foundation of Johnson County board members, and reflects the area's population and workplace diversity. Executive council members include Melissa Cantrell, Maggie Elliott, Jean Knepper, candy Murray, Carrie Z. Norton, Sharon Oglesby, Cathy Pugh, Nancy Richardson, Cyndie Schmeiser, Anne Vandenberg, Mary Westbrook and Thais Winkleblack.