This is a time of year that evokes traditions. Gathering of friends and family. A meal shared. And memories made.
For one group of Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation alumni that tradition includes giving back.
The 2006 class of Impact Denver, the inaugural class, has hosted a giving circle since their class wrapped 10 years ago. They give under the name WE-DID and to date have supported over 25 nonprofits. They anticipate they’ll surpass $75,000 of total giving this year.
We talked with Impact Denver 2006 alum, Leadership Foundation board member and Bespoke Event Group President Justin Ball about how his class has continued to give.
We speculated that maybe it’s because they were in Impact Denver when social media had not become the ubiquitous way to network or that smartphones weren’t competing for our competition. But what really mattered, Ball said, is that it was a group that was “all in” and “thirsty for engagement.” That made them excited to learn but also motivated to help organizations they were passionate about.
So here’s how they did it: Each year Ball and his peers have hosted a friends’ Thanksgiving just before the holiday. In addition to good food and fun while catching up, they take the time to talk about the community organizations they hope to support. Anyone who donates has a voice in the decision, regardless of how much they give. This year they had 22 members of their class make personal donations to the giving circle.
“It speaks to our civic responsibility,” Ball said. “It goes back to the values that we learned [in Impact Denver] of how we can engage, how we can make an impact, how much we are an open book to each other in Colorado where we all support each other and give access to each other.”
It fact, it was such a unique approach to giving that WE-DID was recognized by Community Shares of Colorado as Community Leader of the Year in 2012.
Though it may have been just six months that they shared as a group, it’s led to a lifetime of friendship and serving the community, Ball said: “I can’t think of any other example where I’ve had such a small interaction with people blow up to something that’s so impacted our lives.”
We hope this holiday season you’ll take time to make an impact as well. We have an easy way you can help: Refer a nonprofit to submit a project to our spring 2017 Impact Denver class. The deadline is next Monday, so don’t delay.