My Experience at TED2022: A New Era of Philanthropy

Sep 13, 2022
Isis Krause, Sara Lomelin, and me on the TED sign!

Grapevine launched on March 31, 2020. Philanthropy Together launched the very next day, April 1, 2020. Sara Lomelin, Philanthropy Together’s CEO and Isis Krause, Philanthropy Together’s Chief Strategy Officer, and I and our teams have been friends and partners in democratizing and diversifying philanthropy through giving circles ever since. From the first ever Global Giving Circle Directory that Forbes covered here, which we built together as a way for anyone to find a giving circle anywhere, to our Giving Circle Coaches program and myriad events, leader trainings, and more, we have been busy! So, when I heard the exciting news that Sara had been invited to speak about the growing Giving Circle movement on the TED mainstage this year, I had to join!

Giving by, for, and with the communities we represent is the future of philanthropy and each and every one of us belong in this movement.

Sara Lomelin, TED Talk 2022

This year’s TED conference theme was “A New Era.” It was the perfect theme for introducing giving circles to the world, as the new era for philanthropy. Sara Lomelin was invited to close out the entire conference, on the last day’s category “Awe.” Her name was billed with other amazing and impactful people such as Bill Gates, Allyson Felix, and Elon Musk (in fact, Elon Musk went on right before Sara and even introduced himself on his way to the stage).

Stacie McChesney
Sara meeting Elon Musk backstage at the TED Conference!

During the days leading up to Sara’s talk, the three of us had the opportunity to meet and learn more about the other speakers and attendees. It was incredible to be surrounded by so many accomplished and brilliant people from different fields, from philanthropy and sociology to astronomy and the metaverse. It was a beautiful community of people working to make a difference and usher in “a new era” in myriad ways. And yet, Sara somehow balanced the desire to meet others and watch every other TED Talk throughout the week, with preparing for her talk in prep session after prep session, leading up to the big day.

Me, Sara Lomelin, Shari Davis (Co-Ed of Participatory Budgeting Project), and Isis Krause at TED.

By the time it was her turn to speak, many in the TED community knew about giving circles from our conversations throughout the week and were cheering Sara on. Listen for them in the video when it’s released!

The feeling of walking out on the TED stage was indescribable! I was carrying with me the stories and voices of the hundreds of giving circles members I’ve had the great pleasure of working with over the last decade, and am so proud our shared movement will now be elevated to a much wider audience. We are people-powered philanthropy!

Sara Lomelin

Me and Isis on day one of the conference.

When Sara took the stage, I was excited and just a little nervous. I knew that her words and her passion could move people to join the giving circle movement and inspire them to give back, but I also knew it was a big moment with a lot of pressure! Of course, she killed it. Not only did she get a standing ovation from the audience, but she did it all in heels so high that I was terrified she might roll an ankle. She didn’t falter once. After the talk, several people approached Sara to congratulate her and let us know how excited they were to join or start their own giving circles in their communities. Our collective hope is that’s the same effect the video has on people across the country and around the world when it drops later this month. If so, the giving circle movement is about to be supercharged with even more people-power!

Sara Lomelin receiving a standing ovation at the end of her TED Talk.

I’ve been advocating for giving circles and a return to what philanthropy should always have been about: the love of humanity. Now is the time for us all to come together in our communities and make the change WE want to see happen. As you’ll hear in the talk, when we shift the power of philanthropy into all of our hands we shift who gives, how we give, and ultimately, what gets funded. And THAT’S what fires me up every day.

Sara Lomelin

What an incredible opportunity for all of us that are a part of this giving circle movement that is democratizing and diversifying philanthropy. I am grateful to Sara for all the hard work that went into preparing and delivering this incredible talk and for being the voice for the whole movement on the TED mainstage. I’m also grateful to TED for highlighting giving circles and the good they are doing, and can do. With this platform, I’m sure more people will be inspired to come together and make a difference in their communities.

Isis Krause, Sara Lomelin, and me at TED2022!

Be sure to keep an eye out for Sara’s TED talk video when it drops later this month and please share it out to help us create as many ripple effects of impact as possible!

If you feel inspired to become part of the giving circle movement, Grapevine and Philanthropy Together can help! Click below to join or start your giving circle on Grapevine today!