Whether called a giving circle or a collective giving network, this model of engagement is at the forefront of community philanthropy. Often described as DIY (do-it-yourself) philanthropy, giving circles are groups of individuals who come together to pool their resources, and engage in collaborative grantmaking. Giving circles have grown exponentially in the last 10-15 years, with more than 1,600 identified in the US alone in 2017. Giving circles resonate with women; 70 percent of all groups report that the majority of their members are women.
Much of the growth in giving circles is occurring in groups formed around identity such as race, religion, or sexual orientation. For example, the Latino Community Foundation in California developed a strategy to grow the number of Latino giving circles throughout the state. The Latino Giving Circle Network has 22 circles and is adding more each year. Other examples of identity-based networks include Amplifier Giving in the Jewish community, the Community Investment Network in the African American community, and Philanos (formerly Catalist and the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmaking Network).
The leaders of these groups, along with a few other giving circle leaders and the input of more than 100 individuals, co-designed a network of networks, Philanthropy Together, which launched April 1, 2020, to grow the giving circle community.
DISCOVER research on giving circles
Review recent research on giving circles:
Check out the websites of Amplifier Giving, the Community Investment Network, Philanos, and Philanthropy Together.
REFLECT and DISCUSS
- Identify the giving circles in your community or region. Some giving circles are free standing such as Impact 100 and some are hosted by community foundations or other nonprofits.
- If you are aware of giving circles in your community, think about their impact. For example, the Asian Women Giving Circle in NYC is often the first funder of small arts organizations. The Women’s Giving Alliance in Jacksonville, FL, has focused two three-year cycles of grantmaking on challenging issues, one on mental health and one on poverty.
- How do giving circles fit within your definition of philanthropy?
- Have you been thinking about starting a giving circle and want to test it out? Check out Amplifier Giving’s pop-up giving circle guide and explore the possibilities.