WGCI Is Born
In the summer of 2017…
Sondra Shaw Hardy was invited by a friend, Marliese Ammon, the wife of then Peter Ammon, the German Ambassador to Great Britain, to come to London and speak about women’s philanthropy in the United States. There were women represented from all over the world at the luncheon and many were very interested in the concept of women’s philanthropy and in particular, women’s giving circles.
Taking Women’s Philanthropy Across the Borders, Sondra has been called “the mother of women’s giving circles” and has worked with women all over the US to begin the women’s giving circle movement. She was thrilled at the reception of the concept in London and thought perhaps there might be a way to encourage women’s philanthropy in other parts of the world, through giving circles. Later that fall, she and her colleague, Martha Taylor, were invited by the Vice President of Advancement at the University of Monterrey, Mexico, to offer a two-day workshop on women’s philanthropy to University donors and potential donors. Again, the concept of women’s giving circles had great appeal to the Monterrey women, furthering Sondra’s belief that just as women in the US had embraced the idea, women in other countries seemed ready to bring their resources, values and time to create women’s giving circles.
By the end of 2017, Sondra had spoken with several women throughout the United States who were involved with women’s giving circles. She shared her vision of an international organization to carry their message forward. In particular, Carmen Stevens, Buffy Beaudoin Schwartz and Wendy Steele were very supportive of the concept and encouraged Sondra to move forward. By the beginning of 2018, she had organized Women’s Giving Circles International and taken its message to the North American Community Foundations Summit in Mexico City in February of 2018 where it was warmly received by both Mexico and Canada.
WGCI’s Momentum Continues Over the rest of 2018, the concept of taking women’s giving circles international grew by the month and by the end of the year, an advisory committee representing the US, Canada and Mexico had been formed. In the beginning of 2019, WGCI seed money from women helped bring Carmen Stevens on board as a part-time executive director, non-profit status was being investigated and plans for developing women’s giving circles in both Mexico and Canada are progressing.