A Circle for Giving and Receiving Saves our Playground


By Megan Bassett, Funds Development Coordinator, Eugene Waldorf School

I had the pleasure of representing Eugene Waldorf School in the very first Pacific Northwest Shared Gifting Circle hosted by RSF Social Finance. A pool of $50,000 was to be divided among eight anthroposophical organizations located in the Pacific Northwest. Each group wrote a proposal and sent a representative to the one-day gifting circle event, held in Portland on February 6, at McMenamin’s Kennedy School. The other groups included four Waldorf schools, two Waldorf inspired charter or cooperative schools, Portland Eurythmy and Branch Road Farm, Andhi Reyna’s Biodynamic farm near Cottage Grove.

The EWS proposal was a request for funds to repair our first grade playground which had been damaged by the falling of our beloved branching oak tree in December, 2016. Here is how the process works:

1) Selected participants are asked to review one another’s proposals in advance of the meeting;

2) At the meeting the participants share personal stories and organizational biographies;

3) There is an open session to discuss each other’s proposals;

4) Each participant then determines how much to grant to the other participating organizations.

The Shared Gifting Process is designed to be both economically simple and socially constructive. In an innovative and unusual twist on traditional grant making, participants are both grant recipients from and grantors to each other. Competition becomes collaboration as participants build community among themselves.

After a day of conversation designed to deepen our connection to the work of each organization, it was clear that in spite of a wide range of challenges unique to each organization, we had in common a sincere dedication to education, children and our collective human future. I wished I could give every one of the participating organizations all the money they were requesting. When it was time to allocate the funds, the total $50,000 was divided as follows. Each representative was asked to keep $1,250 for our own organization to ensure the day had been worth our time. The remaining amount was apportioned among each representative to distribute. We each took 15 minutes to meditate on how we would divide that $5,000 among the seven other deserving programs. One by one, I read aloud to each representative the amount of money, I, on behalf of Eugene Waldorf School, would grant them and why. One of the facilitators from RSF tallied the results for each organization. In the end, Eugene Waldorf School was granted $6,393.21 toward the repair of our dear playground.

After the allocation of funds, we continued our conversation about resources and a natural sharing of ideas flowed with the intention of supporting the specific challenges each group faced.

The experience was humbling and clarifying. I left the circle with new friends, some practical ideas and an expanded sense of the perspective of potential donors. The greatest impact on me, however, has been an increased confidence in the strength and stability of our school. The sense of community at Eugene Waldorf School and the capacity of our Faculty, Board and Parent Council to work together lend us a kind of strength and resiliency that cannot be purchased. I am grateful and honored to be part of an organization that operates with profound respect on a careful budget, always putting the needs of the children first. Find out more about RSF Social Finance and Shared Gifting at: RSFsocialfinance.org