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SPIN Giving Circle

WFCO’s First Giving Circle

// August 15, 2018

Meet The Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN)

During Black Philanthropy Month and all year, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado celebrates the many African-American philanthropists who give their time, talent, and treasure to strengthen our communities. The Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs (SPIN), Colorado’s first African-American women’s giving circle, is one such group, redefining philanthropy in communities of color.

WFCO is proud to partner with SPIN’s 13 members by housing their donor-advised fund and collaborating with them to empower and positively impact marginalized women and girls in our community.

Giving Circles Growing Nationally

Founded in 2014, SPIN builds on the tradition of African-American philanthropy and is part of the growing number of giving circles in the U.S. An estimated 150,000 donors are involved in circles, which include more women and people of color than other institutional models of philanthropy, and many find them to be a welcome place to expand their philanthropy.

“I grew up in a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi and there was a song we sang every Sunday without fail… The more you give…the more he gives to you… This song rings in my head sometimes,” said SPIN co-founder Tanaka Shipp.

“I learned philanthropy by watching my mother always giving her time and talent to community members. She gave simply because it was the right thing to do. Learning as an adult that these were all examples of philanthropy, learning that I have been a philanthropist for many years was thrilling, and most importantly learning how to give strategically in a more impactful way has been instrumental toward my personal efforts in giving.”

Philanthropy in Communities of Color

Nneka McPhee, who co-founded SPIN with Tanaka, also attributes her passion for philanthropy to her childhood: “As a kid growing up in the inner city of Denver, I was a product of the system and a recipient of government assistance. Everyone I knew or could ever imagine knowing was in the same spot, dependent on others for their most basic necessities. As an adult, by chance, I started working for a nonprofit organization. There I began to learn about the systems and the business of philanthropy and how it afforded many of the services I had benefited from as a child.”

“But even then, I thought the notion of giving money to charity was reserved predominantly for white people and the ultra-wealthy. It wasn’t until I started learning about giving circles and the rich history of philanthropy in communities of color that I began to see myself on the supply side of philanthropy instead of just on the demand side. This was not only liberating but incredibly empowering. I’ve been working ever since to provide this same revelation to others in my community.”

Maximizing Giving Circle Grants with Volunteerism

As a giving circle, SPIN’s 13 members contribute to a pooled fund housed at WFCO, and then make decisions about the recipients of their dollars while sharing their time as active volunteers to maximize the impact of their grant funds. For a full year, SPIN worked with Florence Crittenton Services, a Denver-based nonprofit organization that educates, prepares, and empowers teen mothers and their children to be productive members of the community, by providing a grant, conducting a diaper drive, and connecting with the teen moms as mentors and leaders.

As a teen mom myself, it was incredibly meaningful to share my story and to reaffirm that their current situations and hardships do not have to define their future,” Nneka said.

Other past beneficiaries of the giving cirlce include The Gathering Place, the Juneteenth Music Festival, and the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado. In late July, SPIN staged Summer SOULstice, an event celebrating its founders and outgoing co-chairs, Nneka and Tanaka. Funds raised will fuel SPIN’s continued good work and philanthropy. SPIN’s annual events offer a space for other like-minded philanthropists to connect. At their “parties with a purpose,” community members talk about philanthropy and the importance of giving back while also networking with fellow Coloradans.

“Representation and imagery are very important and when other black people, especially women and girls, see us on the ground in our communities collectively working and giving, they are inspired and inquisitive about how they can do the same,” said LaRae Scott-Jennings, incoming co-chair.

Incoming co-chair Dafina Tucker described SPIN’s vision for the future: “I see SPIN becoming a well-known organization in the community, known for the valuable time and treasure we offer. I hope that we can accomplish continuing to give out beneficial grants to smaller organizations as they are the ones that need it the most.”

SPIN 2018 Grant Recipients Announced

Black Philanthropy Month, held every August, was created in August 2011 by Dr. Jackie Copeland-Carson and the Pan-African Women’s Philanthropy Network as an annual, global celebration of African-descent giving. To honor the month, SPIN has announced their 2018 grant recipients: Sistahpreneurs; Star Girlz Empowerment, Inc; Project VOYCE; and Curls on the Block. To date, the giving circle has given out a total of $19,000.

With this new partnership, the impact WFCO and SPIN make on the lives of Colorado women, girls, and their families is multiplied.

LaRae explained how well WFCO and SPIN fit together: “WFCO is in the women thriving business and SPIN is as well. A SPIN and WFCO partnership just makes sense because we all believe and know that when women are supported we can move mountains and change nations.”

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