Kate Belza is a Program Associate in the Foundation's Atlanta office. Kate is a former Challah for Hunger chapter leader and recently co-led a Challah for Hunger alumni giving circle, supported by Amplifier's Giving Circle Incubator. Kate shares her thoughts on the experience, and what giving means to her, below. This reflection was originally posted on the Schusterman Family Foundation blog.
Growing up I would receive a weekly allowance for completing chores (as many kids do). But unlike other kids, each week my parents asked me to put half of my allowance into a tzedakah box. Starting when I was about five years old, at the end of each year I would choose where I would donate my tzedakah.
From a young age my parents instilled in me the importance of giving and demonstrated that no matter how much one had, everyone could and should give.
As I've grown up I have continued to donate my time, money and heart to different organizations. I co-founded a chapter of Challah for Hunger (CfH) when I was a student at the University of Virginia. I am proud that we donated over $10,000 to local and global hunger relief organizations in our first two years.
More recently, last summer I was invited by Challah for Hunger’s CEO, Carly Zimmerman, to take part in a CfH alumni giving circle. This particular giving circle was part of Amplifier’s Giving Circle Incubator and included five other CfH alumni. Our giving circle contributed a total of $20,000, collected through our own donations and funds from Challah for Hunger, to two hunger relief organizations.
I loved the experience of connecting with likeminded people to discuss what values were important to us and what collective values we wanted to demonstrate through our giving. Most of all, I loved that we had fun while doing good.
Then, this year, I got to try my hand at giving circles once again! Carly asked if this time I would consider co-hosting the second alumni giving circle. I immediately said yes and started working with my co-leader, Amanda Winer, on the giving circle. I was drawn to the giving circle experience because I there was only so much I could give on my own. With others, we could truly engage in philanthropy and make a greater difference in the world.
Six Challah for Hunger alumni from around the country took part in our giving circle. We met four times via Skype, learned about about hunger relief and philanthropy and enjoyed fruitful conversations about our personal and collective values.
Our giving circle concluded in late September and granted $10,000 (a mixture of personal donations and unallocated chapter funds) to two incredible hunger relief organizations: $5,000 to Concrete Jungle, an Atlanta-based organization that helps to distribute unused local food to the hungry and $5,000 to the Jewish Farm School, a Philadelphia-based organization that teaches students about food and environmental issues.
Leading this giving circle was an incredible experience for me and I am grateful to Challah for Hunger for giving me this opportunity. The first time I took part in the CfH giving circle I was a consumer of the experience—I was led in stimulating conversation, I gave what I was asked financially and I learned a lot about my own values when it comes to giving.
But, through leading the circle, I went from a consumer to a creator of the experience. I created a space for enlivening conversation, I led others to explore their own values when it comes to philanthropy and I crafted an experience that left Challah for Hunger alumni excited to do it again next year.
As my parents told me, the amount does not matter, it just matters that one gives. As a young leader, I will continue to explore ways that I can give, especially those that involve collective giving.
I feel energized by the experience of leading this Challah for Hunger alumni giving circle and inspired to continue creating experiences for myself and my peers through which I get to learn, grow, give and make a difference in the world!