Season 2, Ep 08: Re-shaping the Future of Giving: Sara Lomelin’s Quest for Inclusive and Impactful Philanthropy

“We are reclaiming it. Philanthropy is love of humanity. We all can, and should, be philanthropists.”  


Sara Lomelin is determined to democratize and demystify the world of philanthropy and the image of philanthropists as benevolent billionaires who save the day by bestowing their riches on those in need. As the CEO of Philanthropy Together, Sara promotes “giving circles,” whereby a group of people with shared values gather together to create change. Together, they pool not only their financial resources but also their time and their talent. 


Collective giving is just as beneficial to the givers as it is to the beneficiaries. They become more engaged, educated and informed. They also experience a sense of community which is a boost to both mental and physical health and needed more than ever in a society in which citizens are suffering increasingly from loneliness and isolation. It also fosters communication among a diverse group of voices in a world that is more divided than ever. 


Diversity is something that’s severely lacking in the philanthropic world, Sara explains, with causes related to women of color and the LGBTQIA community getting a combined total of about three percent of all charitable funds. This is only further proof that we can’t wait around for a billionaire to support the causes most important to us and to our communities. 


Diversity is not just relegated to gender or sexual orientation, young people are also left out of the philanthropy conversation. Sara gives listeners advice on how they can encourage their children to get involved and why it’s important. She also shares stories of some impressive young people and the changes they are already making in the world. 


All of us, at any age, can get involved in philanthropy, and there is no better time than now. The key is to get out of our heads and stop expecting perfection. In giving circles, we all come to the table with something to share and leave with something to learn. 



  • “The whole idea of collective giving and of giving circles is to really change the narrative of who gets to be called a philanthropist. You don’t have to be a millionaire, a billionaire, or a 65-year-old white man to be called a philanthropist. You could be in your 20s, you could be living anywhere, and you have the power to really change your community and the reality of those around you.” (2:26 | Sara Lomelin)
  • “In a giving circle, because of the social aspect of it, because of the community that you build with your giving circle members, you are really being intentional. You are really learning about different causes and different organizations. There is research that people who participate in giving circles and collective giving groups are incredibly well-informed and engaged and educated.” (7:41 | Sara Lomelin)
  • “Collective giving is an exercise in democracy. These giving circles are min- labs of civic engagement, of dialog, of being in a space where you and I may not see eye to eye in many ways but we can still get together and rally behind a cause that is close to both our hearts.” (15:06 | Sara Lomelin) 
  • “It is infuriating; it should get all of us mad. And in terms of women and girls, when you think of women and girls of color, the percentage of money allotted to them is tiny, tiny. So, that is why, again, we cannot wait for a billionaire to decide that those causes are worthy of getting money. It’s why all of us need to do something about it.” (22:12 | Sara Lomelin)
  • “And that’s life, life is diverse, and we need diverse voices. And when we think about diversity, it’s not only about race or gender, or sexual orientation, it’s also about age. I feel that a lot of times we leave young voices outside. And this model, for those listening who have children,  is the perfect model for young people.” (29:02 | Sara Lomelin)