Ever since she first heard about giving circles, JoAnne Daudt was inspired. Something in her resonated with the idea of pooling her resources with like-minded individuals to make a huge impact. She began researching and collecting data in 2008 about this new form of philanthropy sweeping the nation that unites informal groups to leverage their resources for a charitable cause.
Four years later, Joanne encountered a group of like-minded professional women who shared her passion to make a difference and the first Christian women’s giving circle in South Florida was born: Strikeforce 421. They take their name from the date they met, April 21, and their common goal of being a force that strikes for the cause of Christ.
“We all had this passion to bring our giving to the next level,” attorney Rose Ann Lovell said of her serendipitous meeting with JoAnne and the other women at a Generous Giving workshop that brought the Strikeforce 421 founders together. At the end of the daylong seminar, JoAnne shared her vision of starting a giving circle for the Christian community in South Florida.
The result? A group of powerhouse women—three attorneys and one television producer—united to form an alliance that would eventually become Strikeforce 421. Rose Ann, Patti Velasquez and Kathy Gazda all teamed up with JoAnne to comprise its founders.
Giving circles have become a popular form of philanthropy in recent years. According to the Regional Association of Grantmakers, donors say they give more, give more strategically and are more knowledgeable about nonprofit organizations and problems in their communities when they participate in giving circles.
Most giving circles are created by women. JoAnne said that’s because women like to do things in community. “When you get a group of women together who love the Lord and are on fire for generosity—be it their time, talent or treasure—fun happens,” said Rose Ann of their organizational meetings that led to the ministry’s launch in November 2013.
Their God-sized dream is to enlist 100 women to give $1,000 apiece so they can give $100,000 to a Christ-centered organization in South Florida. Between their inaugural launch last Fall and a Spring luncheon, so far 80 women have teamed up with Strikeforce 421. Partners pledge to give $1,000 over the course of a year via a one-time payment or through quarterly installments of $250.
Through combining resources, their vision is to give a large sum away to a small or fledgling ministry—not an already established ministry with a large budget, but one where $100k could be a game-changer.
“The money that they give is going to make a huge impact for a ministry that’s just starting out or has a great need,” said Dee Proietto whose sexual abuse recovery ministry, Trees of Hope, is one of those up for consideration. “That’s where we are with our teen girl program and prevention program for parents. We are at a crossroads of taking our ministry to the next level. Being a small ministry, we’re thrilled to be a semifinalist.”
Other organizations in the running to receive a grant from Strikeforce 421’s inaugural award are There is H.O.P.E. for Me, a human trafficking rescue organization, The Well of Sychar, serving women and children who are victims of domestic violence, and Access Life, which helps people with disabilities. Of the eleven ministries that initially applied, these four made it through the rigorous application process.
Strikeforce 421 welcomes input from its pledge partners in the form of surveys collected after site visits. They completed their first round of site visits in May, where partners were invited to preview a ministry presentation from each of the four semifinalists. Another round of site visits are scheduled for the Fall. Only those donors who attend the site visits are able to provide their feedback to the Strikeforce 421 decision makers.
The goal is to have $100k in the bank to give away by November 2014, a year after their official launch date. If they haven’t raised the full amount, Strikforce 421 will empty its coffers anyway and give whatever they’ve raised to the winning recipient and the cycle will start all over again for the following year.
If you would like more information on how you can get involved please visit strikeforce421.org.
Christine Ringer, founder of Worthy Creations, a ministry dedicated to helping men and women find freedom from sexual and relational brokenness, is a contributing writer and can be reached at [email protected].