Last year, we at Amigos de San Cristóbal launched our Community Philanthropy Program. One of the strategies that this program focuses on is creating giving circles – groups of people who are driven by their shared values to come together and pool their time, talent, treasure and testimony. These resources and their scope are multiplied among all the members, and are then strategically given to the urban and rural community projects in the Chiapas Highlands that are Amigos de San Cristóbal’s grantees.
The program is coordinated by Silvia Santiz, Silvia Coca and Andrea Tacconi who accompany the giving circles along the way. Yoli Hernández also recently joined the Amigos de San Cristóbal team in the position of promoter for the giving circle made up of Tsotsil people. All members of the giving circles have been undertaking different activities together with their coordinators and promoter.
The giving circle made up of Tseltal people named themselves “Sejkubal Kuxlejal”, which means “The Rainbow of Life” in English, in order to represent the diversity of those who make up the circle. The members of this giving circle, as well as those who make up another two giving circles at the local and national level, are making headway on their individual conformation processes, during which they’re getting to know each other, sharing their values, and collectively building the identities of each of their circles.
The Neighbors for Integral Change giving circle is made up of people from all over the world who reside in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. They established their mission and vision, and are currently working on their action plan for the next trimester.
One of the first in-person activities we were able to take part in took place over the first weekend in March with Tierra Roja Cutxtitali Community Center, one of Amigos’ grantees this year. The organization held an event called the First Open Door Session at our School, which the Community Philanthropy Program’s coordinators, promoter, and giving circle members attended. This open house helped us to better understand the project, get to know the people who implement it, and consider ways that the giving circles might engage and take action to strengthen it.
All of us who participate in the Community Philanthropy Program are deepening our understanding and thinking of new ways to engage and mobilize philanthropic resources. We’re inspired to continue our journey together and collaborate in strengthening Chiapas Highlands projects.