THE ‘Circle of Change’ a new fund set up by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland has brought together a diverse group of people with a shared desire for social justice including a company owner, a refugee, and a recently homeless woman.
This is the first time that this innovative giving model has been utilised outside of North America.
The 18 members of the ‘Circle of Change’ have raised a staggering £45k which will be split equally between six organisations who tackle a range of issues important to the group including poverty, mental health and minority communities.
The first charity to benefit, receiving £7,500, is the Love Works Co-Operative, based in North Belfast.
Justin Nicholl from Love Works, explained: “Love Works Cooperative is worker-owned and through the skills of our members who have experience in gardening, bike repair, and baking, we try and provide a useful service to the wider community whilst supporting ourselves.
“This is a huge amount of money to receive in one go; to say we’re delighted is an understatement.
“It would have taken us a very long time to raise this much money which we will put to good use in our community.”
Speaking about the new fund Andrew McCracken, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation, said: “The Community Foundation is always looking for new and innovative ways it can support communities and ‘Circle of Change’ is a unique concept that’s never been tried outside North America before.
“Where it differs from many giving circles is the varied nature of the people who are part of the group – effectively becoming fundraisers and donors, no matter what their financial means or backgrounds might be, where everyone’s contribution is valued equally,” said Andrew.
Andrew Campbell, ‘Circle of Change’ member, said: “The ‘Circle of Change’ is a really unique way of giving to good causes.
“As a member, I have a say in where the money raised goes so I can help causes that are really important to me; something that I find very appealing.
“As a member, every one of our voices was heard and even though we’re all from totally different backgrounds it was so interesting to see the correlation in the things that were important to us, like mental health and social justice at all levels.”
Andrew McCracken, concluded: “We are already recruiting for more members to join the ‘Circle of Change’ and literally anyone over 18 is eligible to apply which can be done by emailing andrew@communityfoundationni.
“We believe that the ripple effect of the ‘Circle of Change’ will go way beyond the resources we raise and give; beyond even the great work that will be enabled in the organisations we will fund.”
The fund can provide unrestricted core funding, and particularly seeks to fund projects that are innovative or new, and that could not be funded by statutory sources of income.