Vintage Gratitude Giving Circle

Giving Circles: Neighbors and Friends Giving Together

Giving Circles are groups of neighbors, friends and/or family members who donate to a central pool of
charitable donations and decide together where to donate the funds. In doing so, they discuss social
issues and develop a shared goal for their giving. From what we’ve observed in the many Giving
Circles hosted by Jefferson Community Foundation over the years, they also have tons of fun and
learn a lot along the way. In this climate of political tension and social isolation, a Giving Circle is a
beautiful way to practice democracy and community building at a local level.
Here is a story about a special Giving Circle and the change maker who kicked it all off —
the chief instigator, Joanne Rittmeuller.

Learning Across Communities

A few years ago, Joanne heard about a JCF Giving Circle and was intrigued. She liked the idea of
people getting together, pooling their funds, and giving back to the community on a larger, more
impactful scale than they could if they acted alone. She reached out to JCF for guidance, tools, and
resources to get started. JCF also arranged for her to attend an active Giving Circle in Quilcene –
called the QuilSeed Pearls Giving Circle – to observe one of their meetings. Joanne liked what she
saw, and in particular, how the group worked together. She recalled, “They talked a lot about process
which I felt was important, maybe even more important than the results of any particular meeting. It
was about building a group and honoring the people in the group.

Launching the Circle

Joanne began to pull together a new Giving Circle from her Port Townsend community. She reached out to neighbors and friends from church. They named themselves the Vintage Gratitude Giving Circle (VGGC) in recognition of shared feelings that being “of a certain age” made it possible to give of their time and treasure. JCF supported those early meetings, providing insight and guidance on how they could discover shared values and how to turn those values into meaningful giving.

In that first year, VGGC spent a lot of time getting to know each other, their values, and the causes that mattered to them. Based on their shared goals, JCF connected VGGC to local nonprofits that were working on issues that matched their interests. VCCG interviewed program leaders and went to visit their programs before choosing Bayside Housing and Services as their first grantee.

Making a Difference

Over the last four years, VCCG has become more focused and now decides on a “giving theme” each year. This year, VGGC chose two themes, Belonging and Housing. Again, with the support of JCF’s staff, they identified local nonprofits aligned with their interests and arranged a tour of three organizations they felt most aligned with so they could hear more.

At the beginning of the year, VGGC chose two programs to support in their most recent round of grantmaking. The first was OWL360’s Nest, a newly opened coffeehouse where young people can gather, access resources, and learn about social and employment opportunities. The second was YMCA’s Building Futures program, a school-based mentoring program that matches local students with caring, supportive, and stable adult mentors.

Next on their agenda was a celebratory dinner for the group before jumping right back and beginning work on the VGGC philanthropic focus for 2023. It’s a process they are all grateful for. And so are we. Grateful, proud, and continually amazed at the generosity and caring of this special group of change makers.

To find out more about creating a Giving Circle with your community, contact Siobhan Canty at