Acorn Giving Circle empowering women

Foundation News

Acorn Giving Circle empowering women

8 Mar 2021

International Women’s Day, 8th March, is celebrated globally sharing the outstanding achievements of women building a future that is sustainable, peaceful and inclusive. Today we thought we would shine a light on the Acorn Giving Circle, a group of women who are a positive contribution to improving the lives of people from Derry~Londonderry in a small, but meaningful way. Today we celebrate the difference you’re making in shaping our future.


They formed in 2012 as a response to the formation of the Acorn Fund, a bespoke fund within the Community Foundation. Giving Circles are an accessible way to ensure that giving is directed to support a specific issue or cause.


Typically individuals pool a monthly amount, agree a target and then spend down the fund either through an open call or a solicited approach through awards. As one member stated clearly at the first meeting ‘ We are not a savings club, let’s spend down every penny for good’. Committee structures for Giving Circles can be as flexible as the donors decide but due diligence checks and references are an important aspect to ensure the support gets to where it is most needed.


The Acorn Fund chose to support projects which improve the lives of children, young people and older people through cultural, sporting, environmental or educational activities. To date over £30k has been awarded to support need in the local community. Some examples include: Foyle Parents and Friends Association, Cruse Bereavement Care, Extern Local Youth Service, UV Arts C.I.C.

Amanda Doherty, a committed member of the giving circle shares with us why giving is important to her, no matter what the size.

“It always makes me proud to see the difference a small group of people can make when they focus their efforts, to me that’s the very foundation for philanthropy.

I work for a grantmaker so am reminded daily about how even a small amount of money can make a major difference. That’s what attracted me to join the Acorn Circle several years ago when I moved back to Derry. I liked the structure of it and the social element.

We have women from all walks of life, and different sectors who are part of our circle with a common goal – to make connections and to make a difference in the communities where we live and work.

Not everyone makes the meetings, for some donating is the important part and for others, like me, meeting to discuss the projects that we can potentially support is really important.

And the role of the Community Foundation of Northern Ireland is key to this as they have the knowledge and information about the areas that might need support and the structures to get money to them.

I love the fact that we’re so flexible and can respond quickly to particular issues or demands. To me that’s the essence of philanthropy.

The ‘Seeing is Believing’ sessions that happen as part of philanthropy week also give us the chance to see the difference that this type of giving can make. I’d encourage other women to take part – not only do you get the chance to make a difference but the connections made with like minded women is fantastic!”

To find out more about the Acorn Giving Circle please contact Shauna on  or visit us online to see how your giving will make an impact, here.


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