LIFT's Mission, Vision, and Goals

Our Mission

Strengthening the Greater Burlington, Vermont community through the power of collective giving.

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Our Vision

Women positively impacting the Greater Burlington, Vermont area through engaged and collective philanthropy.

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Our Goals

To educate ourselves about local nonprofits and their needs (LOCALLY)

To promote effective philanthropy (IMPACTING)

To make a positive difference in our local community by leveraging our resources (FUTURE)

To inspire and encourage community among our members (TOGETHER)

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What is a giving circle?

In its most simple form, a giving circle is a group, frequently women, with a common interest in philanthropy.  The circle makes contributions to nonprofit organizations based on members' values and interests, with each circle member having an equal vote in selecting the recipients.

"You are one grain of rice. You come together with other grains, and it becomes a bowl of rice, and that is how we feed."

~Ana L. Oliveira, president of the New York Women's Foundation

Justin Luebke

What is the time commitment for me to participate in LIFT?

LIFT's members will be invited to attend two meetings a year. Each meeting will take place in downtown Burlington for about 2 hours and will feel like a cocktail party or book or investment club meeting.

The first of these two meetings is to learn about the 3 groups that have been nominated to receive LIFT's annual giving.

During and after this first meeting, members will be asked to vote for the group they would like to see receive LIFT's annual giving for that year.

The second of these two meetings is to announce and meet the winner of LIFT's annual giving.

You are not required to attend either of these meetings to participate, so your time commitment could be limited to voting online to select the recipient of LIFT's annual giving.

However, it is our hope that by bringing together women from different networks and backgrounds that we will have created a diverse group that enjoys coming together for these two annual meetings.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

~Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934


What is the monetary obligation?

LIFT members must make either a  minimum $250 or $500 annual donation.

  • $500 for women 35 and over (except if working for a community non-profit or out of the work force); and
  • $250 for women under 35, those out of the work force or working for a community non-profit).

Members may make a higher annual contribution, if desired.

Contributions may be tax deductible for each member, depending on the selected awardee.

We do not want or intend to take away from members' annual giving to other organizations.  Our intention is that the LIFT contribution stands alone in its purpose of serving as a larger contribution than most of our members have the disposable income to make individually.

How does LIFT select the recipients of the group's individual donations?

Individual members are invited and encouraged to research, evaluate and discuss organizations to support and to share this information with the Nominating Committee.

Nominations will be accepted from any member for the first half of the calendar year.

A group of 5 volunteers who serve as the LIFT Nominating Committee will then review the list of nominees.

The Nominating Committee will choose 3 nominees which will be presented to the LIFT membership during the first meeting to take place in approximately June/July.

After the first meeting of the year, the members will vote (each member has an equal vote) to select the LIFT awardee for that year.

The LIFT awardee will be invited to our second meeting of the year, to take place in approximately November, to be presented with the collective donation.

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

How much money will an awardee receive?

Our initial goal is for LIFT to have 50 members.  If there are 40 members who pay $500, and 10 who pay $250, then the LIFT awardee would receive $22,500.

Every dollar of every contribution will go directly to the awardee. LIFT's founding members will cover any administrative expenses of the giving circle.

What organization will be selected?

This is completely dependent on the organizations LIFT's members nominate and select.  We hope to identify organizations that have smaller budgets and for whom our annual award could be a game changer.

Maybe we help a start up organization with seed money.

Maybe we help an organization that is experiencing challenges in its annual campaign.

Maybe we help a nonprofit undertake a discreet project.

Are there LIFT Bylaws and/or Rules?

At this, time, no, there are no rules and/or bylaws beyond what you see on this page for guidelines.  We want to be able to evolve, with the membership having a voice in establishing who we are.

We also want to remain informal to a certain extent, so that we can be nimble in responding to identified needs.

What are the benefits of a giving circle?

Giving circles benefit the community in the form of the dollars awarded to local organizations and the engaged and informed donors/volunteers. Many think that the greater benefit is to the member donors who are provided the opportunity to learn and grow as philanthropists.

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

~Anne Frank

How do I become a member of LIFT?

A member is someone who wants to further the mission and goals of LIFT through financial support and who annually completes a membership form and contributes $250 or $500 (depending on contribution level) to the awardee selected by LIFT's members.

To begin, we are looking for 50 members.  Once we have 50 members, we can then discuss whether to expand membership.

The Nominating Committee will consist of five members.  To begin, Alexa Clauss and Shireen Hart will serve on the Nominating Committee, as LIFT's founding members, and will select 3 members to serve with them.  After the first year, Shireen and Alexa will alternate membership on the Nominating Committee, so that there will be four other seats.

LIFT will discuss with members how the members of the Nominating Committee will be appointed or elected going forward.

How do members make their annual contributions?

For now, when a member completes the LIFT membership form, she is agreeing to make her annual contribution in the amount of $250 or $500 (depending on contribution level) to the awardee selected by the membership.

This will be in the form of a personal check, for example, from the member directly to the awardee organization. It is our expectation and hope that these will be nonprofit organizations, so that members are able to claim a personal tax-deductition in their annual contribution.

In the future, we may partner with an organization that is willing and able to act as a financial administrator of the funds, so that the members donate to the organization, and the organization pays the selected annual awardee. We welcome suggestions of potentially willing organizations, with likeminded values.


Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.  The only stupid question is the question you don't ask.

About Us

In response to our frustration over current events, we decided to put our energy into something positive and impactful.  We decided to create the LIFT (Locally Impacting the Future Together) giving circle because one of the joys we share is meeting the amazing women in the Greater Burlington, Vermont community - whether through our work, our interactions as mothers, our volunteer activities, etc. We are thirsty for change and improvements, and we are convinced that we can leverage the generosity of the whole and the energy of each individual to help local groups with their missions. Alexa Clauss and Shireen Hart

Our Stories

Alexandra Clauss (Alexa):  I am not a Vermonter, in the sense that I was not born here, but Vermont is in my heart and soul. There is no place I'd rather live and raise my two young children. As an attorney, my work life is devoted to advising employers on human resources issues. I gladly take any opportunity to share my passion for employment law with our local and state-wide community, which stems from my desire to see fair, balanced, and innovative workplaces across Vermont.

Beyond donating time or money, I am motivated to do more. I want to be part of making a truly impactful gift, and I want to connect with empowering and awesome women through LIFT.  Please join us!

Alexa's Primmer Profile                       Alexa's Linkedin Profile

Shireen Hart: I live, work, and raised my two sons in Burlington with my spouse, Chip. I enjoy volunteering for various Burlington organizations, including KidSafe Collaborative, the Police Commission, and the Burlington Business Association. The Burlington community has provided so much for our family in terms of opportunity and fellowship. We have an obligation to give back to the community that has given us so much. I feel like there is more that I should be doing beyond my individual efforts that only amount to a drop in the bucket of this community's needs.

The thought of collaborating with a group of women from varying backgrounds and philosophies to identify organizations that need an infusion of a larger contribution to help achieve their mission or take on a discreet project changes my current feelings of  frustration into hope. There is an absolute strength in numbers. I hope you will be among us.

Shireen's Primmer Profile                              Shireen's Linkedin Profile

"One must know not just how to accept a gift, but with what grace to share it."

~Maya Angelou

LIFT Awardees

2019 Award Recipient:
Children's Program, Steps to End Domestic Violence,
Awarded on November 13, 2019

2019 Mini-Award Recipient:
Outright Vermont,
Awarded in March 2019

2018 Award Recipient:
The Janet S. Munt Family Room,
Awarded on October 11, 2018

2017 Mini-Award Recipient:
KidSafe Collaborative,
Awarded on November 11, 2017


Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about the LIFT Giving Circle, then please email us at, and Alexa or Shireen will respond at the earliest opportunity.

If your questions are answered, and you would like to become a LIFT member, then please complete this online membership form.