Growfund for Giving Circles

In the Summer of 2018, the Alliance presented its US chapters with an alternative to online donation collections: Growfund for Giving Circles.

With support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Impact created Growfund as the giving circle solution. Growfund is an innovative technology platform specifically designed to support giving circles such as ours. It’s built so that you can continue to do amazing work without cost barriers, administrative hassles, or communication troubles that giving circle administrators often face.

Growfund is a no-minimum donor advised fund (DAF) that allows giving circles to easily collect funds from members and grant those funds to more than 1.8 million charities. The simple and streamlined solution includes easy setup and hosting, full reporting of gifts and associated donor information, and grant distribution tools.

Read some recent press about Growfund in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Demonstration Video 

In May, Growfund hosted four demo calls with Alliance chapter leaders. To watch one of the video demos, click here.

Chapters Using Growfund for Giving Circles

Link to the Growfund featured giving circles: https://mygrowfund.org/featured-giving-circles/

FAQ’s

How Do I Set Up My Growfund Account?

To get your chapter up and running on the Growfund for Giving Circle platform, follow these easy steps!

  1. Go here: https://mygrowfund.org/giving-circles/
  2. Click the “Start a Fund” in the upper right hand corner.
  3. You first will need to create your personal account. You can do this by setting up your payment now, or do that later. Doing this sets you up as the administrator of the fund. If you want other steering team members to be an administrator, you can ask them to do this step individually OR you can add them when you create the Giving Circle (Step 4 below).
  4. From there you will be directed to create your Giving Circle (call it your 100 name (e.g. 100 XYZ Who Care Location)).
  5. The set up team at Growfund for Giving Circles will then be in touch with you to obtain the copy and logo you want on your page.
  6. Once completed, you can share the link in emails, your social media channels, and even link it on your website!

Do members have to pay $105?

No. You set the rules with your members for how you want to run your chapter! The extra $5.00 is a hold over from One Mission to cover fees. Similar to One Mission and making your donation online direct on the nonprofit’s site, Growfund for Giving Circles takes credit card fees and a small fee for administering the fund. That fee is now 1% of the total amount distributed (or 1% of what each member donates), so you could ask now ask for $4.00.

There are two schools of thought about credit card fees across chapters: ask the members to cover them vs. let the fee be covered by the nonprofit, thereby reducing your overall donation. Take it to the group and do what you feel is best.

What are the fees for administering the fund? How are they assessed?

Growfund assesses a fee of one percent (1%) of the total recommended grant amount. The fee will be charged against and subtracted from the amount of the recommended grant funds prior to distribution. Learn more.

Can my members make quarterly payments?

Yes! There is what you would consider a “subscription” feature, known as a “recurring payment” where members can make their donations routinely (annually, quarterly, bi-monthly, monthly, one-time, etc.) They even get to choose the exact date when their credit card should first be charged. So, if your meeting is on the first of the month, members can choose to have their cards charged on the 15th so you can distribute funds prior to the end of the month.

Will subscriptions be indefinite?

No. Members will need to determine how many recurring payments they wish to make at the time they set this feature up. Many chapters are doing different things, such as:

  • Asking members to set up a recurring payment for as many payments until their credit card expires
  • Asking members to set up a recurring payment to get them to the end of the current calendar year, so in January they can get everyone on board for the year
  • Allowing members to put in what they will.

You will be able to see/track/monitor who has paid and for how long on your back end dashboard.

Will Growfund collect the tax receipt from the nonprofit and distribute to my members?

No, and yes. When members make a donation to your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) on Growfund for Giving Circles, they are giving to a nonprofit called Global Impact (a 501(c)(3) that has existed since 1956 and the parent organization over Growfund). Global Impact is the organization that your members will have a tax receipt from for their annual donations. Your group’s donation will be mailed from Growfund to the nonprofit along with a letter stating that 100 X Who Care YZ made the enclosed donation and the letter will include the chapter’s name and contact information for a group acknowledgement.

How Do I Distribute Funds?

As a DAF and similar to a community foundation fund, you tell Growfund for Giving Circles where to direct your donation and they will. Every single nonprofit listed in the GuideStar directory is already preloaded into their system, and if a nonprofit is not on the list (think local scout troop possibly), then you can request they be added to the list. Growfund will vet the nonprofit and make it available for you to make your donation.

The key thing is, you direct the funds and it’s easy to do. Just follow these steps:

  • Go to https://mygrowfund.org/giving-circles/ and login
  • Navigate to the Make A Grant page
  • Use the GuideStar powered search module to find your grant recipient (Searching by the EIN is an efficient way to find charity)
  • Review the EIN and website to ensure it is the correct charity
  • Recommend the grant after selecting the grantee(s) and the donation amount(s)
  • After you recommend a grant, the Global Impact team will confirm the charity’s validity and distribute the check. The grantee will receive a letter indicating the name of the giving circle who selected them as a recipient in 7-12 business days.
  • Many giving circles also choose to alert the grantee that the check is on its way.

My account earned interest…why?

Because when you set up your account you were asked to choose between three investment options and a money market account they have available. To learn more about each, click here or here.

We feel burned by the past organization refusing to provide ongoing services to us. It took too long to get my members to embrace it and we will lose members by making this transition to a new platform. I can’t make a change if Growfund goes out of business in a year.

We feel your pain. That is the precise reason why we are suggesting you use Growfund and not some of the other online platform out there that was created for the nonprofit or their own financial gain and not that of giving circles like ours. Growfund for Giving Circles was created by people who worked in the community foundation world and understood the inadequate services they provide to giving circles. Also, they saw the high price they were asking of the giving circles and knew it was not sustainable (some of our chapters give one quarter’s worth of donations for the administrative task of collecting and directing the donation). The fees assessed with Growfund come no where near that, allowing you to truly provide a community service.

Couple that with the fact that Global Impact was established in 1956, has been overseeing work place giving campaigns for regions of our national government, and has received a large donation from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation specifically to set up a platform specific to clubs like ours, we feel pretty confident in endorsing them for the long term.

Why can’t we just ask our members to pay the nonprofit direct and send me their proof of payment?

You can! We just think that this is easier to track and monitor given you have a backend dashboard that allows you see who has paid and who hasn’t. There are no emails to track, making follow up easier and more streamlined. Also, in the future, your presence on the Growfund for Giving Circles platform will provide you with extra benefits with regard to running your chapter. Stay tuned!

To see FAQ’s on the Growfund page, please click here: https://mygrowfund.org/giving-circles-faq/