Interview with founder of the circle, Indian American Farida Kathawalla.
Greater Boston is known for being a robust and involved community in every sense of the term. It is no different when it comes to giving and philanthropy as well. It is also known for charting new courses and showing new ways of generating community ownership to address global issues. It is with this spirit that a very unique women’s giving circle termed “Circle of Hope” is taking off in the city of Boston.
The visionary behind this giving Circle is a trailblazer herself and is steeped in the world of philanthropy in Boston and beyond. Farida Kathawalla has invested months in conceptualizing the idea, customizing it for the demography she aims to work with and then to garner the initial support needed for it to take off. She is at the forefront of many philanthropic organizations in the region including New England International Donors, American India Foundation and World Education among others. She is deeply passionate about women’s empowerment. Kathawalla is relentless about finding new and creative ways to channel her boundless energy coupled with the community’s ideas and resources for the greater good.
The launch event of the Circle of Hope is scheduled for September 10th in Boston. Against this backdrop she spoke with Venky Raghavendra.
Please tell us a little more about the genesis of the idea and why you felt the need to create this in Boston.
Most giving circles are groups of women who are grounded in a tradition of volunteerism and sharing. At a time when individuals seem increasingly disconnected from each other, giving circles promote collective learning, decision-making and giving. They build community by rallying individuals who, over the course of their work together, have meaningful conversations and make real-world decisions. Through giving circles, donors learn about community issues and become deeply involved in nonprofit organizations they may never have known existed.
You have been steeped in a variety of philanthropic activities in the greater Boston area. What keeps you inspired and energized to do the work that you do?
I have been fortunate to have lived a privileged life and since I was a little girl, my parents have instilled in me to give back. Having travelled all over the world and lived in other countries, I have come to the conclusion that empowering women to realize their full potential can break the cycle of poverty, create prosperity and generate other transformative outcomes.
This is the reason that keep me going and why I am so focused on empowering women.
Studies have shown that women give higher than their male peers at all income levels. Also it is said that women are more generous and empathetic in nature. How will you tap into this phenomenon as you grow the Circle of Hope?
In order to grow the circle, we plan to recruit on a one to one basis as we want this to be a very personal engagement. We will have our current members become our advocates for bringing in new members. We have terrific ideas to keep our members engaged and excited by bringing in powerful speakers and creating fun but meaningful events. This is how we will build a community for like-minded individuals.
What outcomes are you hoping for from the launch event that is coming up and what is the trajectory you see for the next one year?
We want to introduce the concept to our guests and get them excited about the giving circle. We hope they will join and help us spread the word within their network.
As for the trajectory we are looking to have around twenty- five members join by June of 2018. We rather go slow and find like – minded, committed and community oriented women to join our circle. We also hope to get some cooperate sponsors in the mix.
Can you talk a little bit about the keynote speaker for the event and the reason behind the choice?
Colette Philiips has been a game changer in the Boston philanthropic community and a strong Ambassador for the American India Foundation. She is an amazing connector and is regarded as a pioneer and an innovator, bringing people together from all walks of life with causes and issues that affect them most. We are truly delighted to have her as the first keynote for this Circle launch. She embodies all that this Circle of Hope stands for – a women of courage, determination and passion for what she believes in.
Venky Raghavendra is a philanthropy expert and currently serves as Vice-President at Safe Water Network. He writes regularly about development issues and social innovations.