Imagine the opportunity to grant $10,000 to your favorite nonprofit, helping them to further their impact on our community. With the Giving Circle, you can join like-minded community members and help decide which nonprofit will receive this grant, as well as additional grants.

By donating $250 annually to the Giving Circle, you’ll earn membership and the opportunity to make a difference for a local organization. Your donation will be used to directly fund the chosen nonprofits’ projects and includes an invitation to the annual Giving Circle reception. Those who join at the $500 “VIP” level have the ability to make an additional grant during the event.

Since the Giving Circle’s inception, members have distributed $198,000 in grants to Centre County nonprofits. In 2021 alone, $23,000 was granted to three nonprofits: $11,000 to Jana Marie Foundation, $8,000 to Go ReEntry, and $4,000 to Centre Helps. Through this granting opportunity, the Giving Circle offers a unique option to support established and new nonprofits.

One Giving Circle member who makes an impact on the community through this program is Cari Gustafson.

Cari is a Centre County resident of 30 years, a Centre Foundation board member, and a Giving Circle member of about four years. She describes being a part of the Giving Circle as fun, energizing, and supportive.

“In one evening, you learn about the different immediate local needs, engage with and talk to folks who are working at these nonprofits, vote, get immediate results, and celebrate the winners. All while having a cocktail and great local fare,” said Cari.

Cari has an affinity for Centre County nonprofits, and a few are special to her for helping make the community so vibrant. She mentioned some of her favorites: Jana Marie Foundation, Park Forest Preschool, Centre Volunteers in Medicine, Youth Service Bureau, Centre Region Parks and Recreation, and Centre Safe.

“The Nittany Valley Figure Skating Club also holds a special place in my family’s life because my daughter skated with NVFSC for 12 years,” she added.

Even with her love for nonprofits and involvement in the community, what makes the Giving Circle so different than other giving opportunities for Cari is she often learns about new local organizations.

“I often learn about a local nonprofit that I wasn’t aware of during the Giving Circle. I always end up being impressed and becoming a new supporter as a result of their presentation,” she said.

Cari was inspired to join the Giving Circle by a friend of hers. She talked about how fun it was to attend, and Cari was sold. Now she hopes to inspire other friends to join by inviting them to participate as well.

“The intimate setting and immediacy of the event are what I enjoy most about being a member,” Cari said. “In one evening, you learn about, vote on, and celebrate the recipient. My husband also enjoys attending because of this, and my children always looked forward to hearing about it when we got home. It’s almost like going to a sporting event.”

Cari shares some advice for other community members who want to make a difference in Centre County but may not know where to start or how to help.

“The Giving Circle encapsulates Centre Foundation in one evening: members pool their money to help specific projects in our community and everyone benefits. Very few of us could start an endowed fund, which makes the Giving Circle’s $250 membership so accessible. If you love living in Centre County, the Giving Circle is the perfect opportunity to make a unique impact,” she said.

There are more than 40 Giving Circle members like Cari who love and are inspired by our local nonprofits and are dedicated to making an impact in Centre County. Join them by becoming a member here, and be a part of making a difference for a local nonprofit and our greater community.