GCHopeLogoThis is the final of four blog posts from Joan Kasprowicz and Diana Katz, co-founders of the Giving Circle of HOPE (GCH) at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, celebrating its 10th anniversary this season.

Word spread that the organization funded by the GCH was operating with a new automated volunteer management program. Questions arose.   “Why can’t we expand the use of this application to all the organizations that provide volunteer rides? How about the Elder Villages that are sprouting all over the County? They could use this too!”

Members of the GCH, together with Fairfax County’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council (LTCCC), assembled a team of organizations that will collaborate to create a Northern Virginia Rides Program (working title). Under the leadership of the Jewish Council on Aging (JCA) and the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCC-NoVA), and in cooperation with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and the GCH, a steering committee is gauging the interest of potential user organizations and researching possible funding sources from private and community foundations, county government, and others.

To start, the newly created countywide nonprofit-managed program will offer the RideScheduler application to the current Elder Villages and several other nonprofits that offer volunteer rides. The intention is to expand the program to include all organizations that offer the same service throughout Northern Virginia.  The desired outcome is that the area will be in tune with or ahead of the transportation needs of the population that is aging in place.

Much to our surprise, this kind of intervention into the community is what Leslie Crutchfield, et al., call catalytic philanthropy in Do More than Give. It is exciting and rewarding to realize that the words we chose long ago, “to build a network that is a catalyst for positive change” have come to fruition. In the case of this particular program, the GCH was, in fact, that catalyst.  

Much is being said and written about this new kind of philanthropy. Bill and Melinda Gates, Jacqueline Novogratz, and Tom Siebel are all engaged this way.  The experience of the GCH shows that catalytic philanthropy is not just for the ultra-wealthy. Any concerned and engaged citizen can observe, learn, network, and use their own skills to change the community in which they live.