Boulder County Based Nonproft Guys Who Give Expanding Fraternity of Charity
A men’s nonprofit group has expanded in the last three years to cover more of Colorado and sprouted two groups in other states.
Justin Livingston, of Superior, f ounded Guys Who Give’s first chapter in Boulder County in May 2015. He was inspired by another similar group, Women Who Care.
The concept of both is simple: gather a group of people who meet once a quarter in a casual setting like a brewery. Each person gives $100 per quarter and votes on which local nonprofit organization should get the money.
Livingston acknowledged the model is not exactly revolutionary. Indeed, the Longmont Community Foundation administers several giving circles that work the same way.
But something in the Guys Who Give formula has proven to be contagious — there are now chapters in Adams County, Broomfield County, Denver County, Kalamazoo, Mich. and Asheville, N.C.
Livingston said he started the group because he was looking for a way to stay involved in the community when his free time seemed occupied with his family and career.
“Life changes as we grow and time becomes more and more of a commodity. I used to volunteer at a soup kitchen and at church, I was involved in a mission trip to Haiti and I was finding that there wasn’t the hours to do that and finding ways to plug in,” Livingston said. “It was this premise of Guys Who Give — guys can come for 45 minutes a quarter and give $100 and be part of something that’s a massive impact.”
The quarterly meetings kick off at 6 p.m. by hearing how the recipient from the previous quarter’s used their donation and then every member of the local Guys Who Give chapter has an opportunity to nominate a new nonprofit or charity on a slip of paper that is put into the box.
Three nominated nonprofits are then drawn from the box and the members who nominated them are asked to stand a give a quick five minute presentation about why that charity could use some funds.
“There’s no group presentation, there’s no Powerpoints, no brochures,” Livingston said. “It’s a heartfelt ‘Here is why I think this is a good organization.’ We learn about new charities and it’s kind of cool that all the events are on the same night ... I always think of when flash mobs were trendy. This is like flash philanthropy. We come in, do a lot of good and then we leave.”
But how did the concept spread to four other Colorado counties and two other states in the span of three years? Well, the secret may lie in Livingston’s background.
“I’m in franchising,” he said. “What I do is I help a company develop a franchise program. So I think in terms of duplication. If I see something good, I start thinking about how to build it so others can do it as well. I don’t know if it’s intentional or subconscious, to be honest.”
Livingston said he built the first Guys Who Give in a way where it could be replicated in other places. The Kalamazoo chapter came about because Livingston called his younger brother there to test out the concept.
“He’s an overly honest person and somebody who’s not going to be afraid to give me critiques,” Livingston said. “He did it like a license essentially and it went really well.”
Siblings have been important to spreading the Guys Who Give idea — Caleb Dickinson, of Boulder, helped Livingston start the first chapter three years ago and Dickinson’s sister, Jennifer Fox, was the one that told them about Women Who Care in the first place.
Dickinson said he thinks Guys Who Give is such a simple, easy-to-copy concept, he is surprised there aren’t more chapters by now.
“You get together, you donate money and you drink beer,” Dickinson said. “You can do it with five people because $500 is still a lot of money. Or you can do it with 15 or 50, it doesn’t matter. All you need is a good human being that is willing to get a few guys together and you’re on the way.”
The Asheville chapter was founded by Dickinson’s brother, Michael Dickinson.
The growing fraternity just added its first women’s chapter — the Denver chapter of Gals Who Give will begin next quarter.
Livingston said he foresees the idea continuing to grow and raise more money for local charities.
“In the next quarter, we will blow past the $200,000 collected mark and that is just mind blowing,” he said. “My big goal was to pass the $100,000 (mark) and the Boulder County chapter has done that ... Now I’m thinking that it’s not unattainable and what happens when we reach $1 million donated.”
Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ktonacci