History has shown that when people unite for a common cause, they become an unstoppable force. This is the essence of Centre Foundation’s Giving Circle. Since its inception in 2006, the Giving Circle can be likened to a quiet current in the ocean, subtly but powerfully driving significant waves of change in Centre County an entire community of people helping people. 

At its core, the Giving Circle offers a unique platform for community advocates to deeply engage with local causes, pool their resources, and fund transformative projects. But that’s just the beginning! With two big social events every year, the Giving Circle is more than a group of philanthropists. It enables residents to amplify their local impact while also connecting with like-minded individuals in an incredibly fun way. 

How it Works 

What makes giving circles so powerful is their ability to democratize philanthropy. Your donation, when combined with contributions from others, creates a transformative grant that can accomplish anything from launching museum programs to facilitating much-needed mental health resources. This pooling of resources allows for a greater impact than individual donations alone. 

For the last 18 years, this group of local philanthropists has collectively granted $243,000 to support various programs across the county that include initiatives like: educational and mentorship programs, free medical screenings, and nutritious meals for those experiencing food insecurity or housing instability. This is just a glimpse of the significant impact the Giving Circle makes each year. 

To become a Giving Circle member, donors make an annual gift ranging from $250 to $1,000, collectively funding the year’s Giving Circle grant. The Circle’s pivotal cocktail event in October is where members undertake several meaningful steps. — They start by selecting their three favorite project proposals, choosing which ones will advance to the final vote. At the fall reception, finalists passionately pitch their proposals, providing members with firsthand insights into their initiatives. This culminates in a live voting session, where members cast their votes to determine the grant winner. After this event, Giving Circle members gather once again the following summer at an Impact Celebration. Here, the previous fall’s grant recipients share updates on the progress and impact of their projects, offering a firsthand look at the positive outcomes made possible through their collective generosity. 



Amplifying Impact through Collective Giving 

The power of these grants was vividly illustrated last year during the annual summer Impact Celebration. Allayn Beck, Executive Director, and Heather Lee, Business Manager at the State College Food Bank, shared the story of their No-Cost Produce Markets, which provide fresh, local produce to anyone in Centre County. “Thanks to a Giving Circle grant,” they explained, “we were able to add an extra market and order more produce. We predicted that we could serve over 250 households instead of the usual 175-200, and we were right. This grant gave us the confidence to order the extra produce without second-guessing. It allowed us to combat food insecurity in our area more effectively than ever.” 

Deepening Community Connections 

The real magic of giving circles goes beyond the financial. It’s about connection, collaboration, and community! When you join a giving circle, you’re not just writing a check; you’re engaging in meaningful discussions about local needs, evaluating grant proposals, and seeing firsthand the impact of your collective efforts. You’re becoming an active participant in the philanthropic process, building deeper ties to your community and to the causes you care about. 

One long-time Centre Foundation Giving Circle member, Desiree Fralick, describes it perfectly: “I really enjoy the Giving Circle because it is an interactive and exciting experience! You hear from each of the finalist organizations, get to interact with them to ask questions, vote, and know the results that same evening. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the effect of giving on those organizations and learn more about the initiatives of the non-profits having an impact in our local community.” 

Making Philanthropy Engaging and Enjoyable 

Philanthropy doesn’t have to be serious or solitary. Giving circles infuse fun and engagement into the giving process. Imagine celebrating your impact with grant recipients at a summer gathering, or taking part in fun, educational sessions to learn more about the needs of your community with other members? These activities not only enhance the giving experience but also foster a sense of camaraderie among members. 

The bonds within a giving circle are just as meaningful as the good it does for the community. Members, each with their own backgrounds but all committed to the same cause, find a real sense of belonging and support. These connections make their lives richer and create a network that inspires collaboration. 

“What better way is there to give back to the community than to do it as a community?”, says member McQuillin Murphy, “It is a privilege to come together with our neighbors and be able to make tangible change in the Centre region and I can be confident in the impact of the Giving Circle precisely because it is a collective effort of brilliant, diverse, and passionate members of our community.” 

Whether you’re a young professional eager to contribute to your community or a retiree looking to leave a lasting legacy, a giving circle provides the platform for meaningful engagement. 

Join the Centre Foundation Giving Circle and make a powerful impact in Centre County. By becoming a member, you’ll be part of a community dedicated to creating positive change. You’ll amplify your impact, build meaningful relationships, and engage deeply with causes that matter. You will witness the tangible results of your contributions and celebrate collective achievements. 

Every year, members can support various Centre County nonprofits. Last year, our Giving Circle awarded $23,000 to three exceptional organizations. By choosing a membership plan and joining before October 15, 2024, you will have the chance to vote on which local nonprofits will be awarded grants for 2024-2025 at our fall member cocktail gathering on October 15, 2024. To learn more about the Circle visit our Giving Circle page or contact Kerry Tolton, our Development and Stewardship Director, at kerry@centre-foundation.org or 814-237-6229. 

Consider joining the Giving Circle today and unlock your philanthropic potential. Together, we can create a brighter future for Centre County!