Giving circle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy by a group of individuals who form a voluntary association to donate their money or time. The group then decides how to allocate these resources to charitable organizations or community projects.[1] Groups may also seek to increase their awareness of and engagement with the issues covered by the charity or community project.[2]

Structure and function[edit]

According to Philanthropy Together, giving circles follow these five steps: Gather, discuss, decide, give and engage

A giving circle can be defined as a voluntary association with an "express philanthropic purpose" and a structure that is usually "informal and independent."[1]: 110–111  According to Angela M. Eikenberry, professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, "Although giving circles come in a range of sizes and foci, these groups' key and defining attributes are that they involve individuals who together decide on support for organizations (and sometimes individuals) through giving money (and sometimes time)."[1]: 110 

A giving circle is similar to crowdfunding but can be distinguished by how the group collectively decides on where to donate its resources.[3][4]: 4  The combined donation of the group can have a larger philanthropic impact on the recipient than smaller individual donations.[5][6][7]

Giving circles can function as informal groups or be more formally administered by a community foundation[5] or hosted by a nonprofit organization.[8] Giving circles may also be connected by giving circle networks, which offer support and resources.[9]

According to Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, writing for the Stanford Social Innovation Review in 2012, giving circles can be categorized as grassroots giving circles, sponsored giving circles, or institutional giving circles based on a variety of characteristics, including their resources, group size, objectives, and structure.[10] Giving circles may also be identity-based, and a 2016 survey of giving circles in the United States by the Collective Giving Research Group found about 60 percent of circles defined with reference to race, ethnicity, age, gender, or sexual identity.[11][12]

History and development[edit]

Giving circles emerged as an innovation in philanthropy in the early 1990s[13]: 7 [14]: 8  and the number of groups has increased since the early 2000s.[15][4] According to the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the number of giving circles in the United States doubled between 2004 and 2006 to approximately 400.[16][17] In the United States, preliminary data about giving circles in 2005, 2006, and 2007 indicated membership tended to be female.[13]: 7 [14][18]

By 2009, giving circles had been identified in the United States, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom.[19]: 57  By 2016, the Women's Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University developed a database of about 1600 giving circles.[20] In 2021, the nonprofit organization Philanthropy Together created a searchable global database of more than 2500 giving circles on the Grapevine online platform.[21]

A study conducted in 2005 by Angela M. Eikenberry found giving circles generally bring both long-time and new philanthropists to organized philanthropy.[18] Research by Eikenberry and Jessica Bearman, published in 2009, and largely based on a survey of giving circle members compared to a control group, found that giving circles influence members to give more and to give more strategically.[2]


In 1995, American philanthropist Colleen Willoughby founded the Washington Women's Foundation with a collective giving structure,[22] and by 2007, the group grew to 460 members.[23] The Kew Giving Circle in Kew, south west London, initiated by British charity chief executive Judy Weleminsky, started meeting in January 1999.[24] Impact100 was founded in 2001 by American philanthropist Wendy Steele as a giving circle composed of women who each give $1,000 and then decide together where to give the collective donation, and has since grown into chapters throughout the United States as well as outside of the US.[25] The Funding Network is a UK-based giving circle that began in 2002 and runs Dragons' Den-style events for donors and charities.[26][27]

Womenade began in the Washington, D.C. area in 2000 after six women began hosting potluck parties with a $35 attendance fee that was collectively used for charitable purposes.[28] After the group received media attention in 2002, independent Womenade groups were created in other parts of the United States.[19]: 1  In 2003, Marsha Wallace created a similar group, Dining for Women (now called Together Women Rise[29]), which by 2009, had 177 groups in the United States.[19]: 1 [30]

Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1990 with chapters and giving circles throughout the United States, including the Asian Women Giving Circle,[31] founded in 2005 by Hali Lee.[32] AAPIP has also created a national giving circle network, and a Queer Justice Fund to support AAPI LGBT organizations.[33] LGBTQ-focused giving circles include Beyond Two Cents in the San Francisco Bay Area, Kavod in New York,[34] and The Dinner Guys in New York City.[33]

Other examples of the giving circle model of fundraising include The American Muslim Community Foundation, which hosts giving circles with a focus on Ramadan and the Muslim principles of Zakat and Sadaqah.[15] The Latino Giving Circle Network was created by The Latino Community Foundation to support giving circles in California, which between 2012 and 2020 gave more than $1.7 million to Latino-led nonprofit organizations.[35][36] Amplifier is a giving circle network for Jewish giving circles that maintains a database of organizations,[37] and the Community Investment Network is a giving circle network for African-American giving circles.[38] The Women's Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (now called Philanos[39]) is a women's giving circle network that by 2013 had 38 member groups in the United States.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Eikenberry, Angela M. (2022). "Schools of Democracy? Giving Circles and the Civic and Political Participation of Collaborative Philanthropists". In Glückler, Johannes; Meyer, Heinz-Dieter; Suarsana, Laura (eds.). Knowledge and Civil Society. Knowledge and Space. Vol. 17. Springer Publishing. pp. 109–130. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-71147-4_6. ISBN 978-3-030-71149-8. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Eikenberry, Angela; Bearman, Jessica (May 2009). "The Impact of Giving Together: a snapshot of a study on giving circles' influence on philanthropic & civic behaviors, knowledge & attitudes" (PDF). Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
  3. ^ Borzykowski, Bryan (November 17, 2018). "When It's Time for Giving, Some People Circle Around". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Miller-Stevens, Katrina; Taylor, Jennifer A. (2020). "Philanthropic Collaboration: A Conceptual Framework for Giving Circles". Public Integrity. 22 (6). American Society for Public Administration: 575–589. doi:10.1080/10999922.2020.1719808. S2CID 213693584. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Caumont, Andrea (November 6, 2005). "Giving Funds Provide Flexibility". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  6. ^ Fessler, Pam (May 14, 2009). "Donors Turn To Giving Circles As Economy Drops". NPR. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  7. ^ a b Hannon, Kerry (November 7, 2013). "Giving Circles: More Impact to Go Around". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  8. ^ Bearman, Jessica E. (2008). A Handbook for Giving Circle Hosts: Tools and Resources for Developing and Sustaining Giving Circles (PDF). Washington, DC, United States: Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  9. ^ "Giving Circle Networks". Philanthropy Together. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  10. ^ Arrillaga-Andreessen, Laura (Winter 2012). "Giving 2.0: Getting Together to Give". Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  11. ^ Barclay, Akira; Fullwood, Valaida; Webb, Tracey (March 29, 2019). "The Sweetness of Circles". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  12. ^ Bearman, Jessica; Carboni, Julia; Eikenberry, Angela; Franklin, Jason (2016). "The Landscape of Giving Circles / Collective Giving Groups in the U.S." (PDF). Collective Giving Research Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 5, 2020. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Rutnik, Tracey A.; Bearman, Jessica (2005). "Giving Together: A National Scan of Giving Circles and Shared Giving" (PDF). United Philanthropy Forum. Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  14. ^ a b Bearman, Jessica E. (2007). "More Giving Together: The Growth and Impact of Giving Circles and Shared Giving" (PDF). Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Hadero, Haleluya (May 14, 2021). "Ramadan drives donations, memberships to giving circles". Associated Press. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  16. ^ Kadlec, Dan (November 5, 2008). "Report: Giving Circles". Time. Archived from the original on November 18, 2008. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  17. ^ Hughes, Robert J. (May 18, 2007). "When Small Donors Get Together". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 12, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  18. ^ a b Eikenberry, Angela M. (September 2006). "Giving Circles: Growing Grassroots Philanthropy". Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 35 (3): 517–532. doi:10.1177/0899764006287482. S2CID 143294059.
  19. ^ a b c Eikenberry, Angela M. (2009). Giving Circles: Philanthropy, Voluntary Association, and Democracy. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253220851. Retrieved December 29, 2022.
  20. ^ Kadaba, Lini S. (October 29, 2019). "Giving circles, where people pool their money for charity, have quadrupled, especially among women". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 23, 2022.
  21. ^ Haynes, Emily (April 15, 2021). "Charity Creates a Searchable Directory of Giving Circles". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved December 8, 2022.
  22. ^ Miller, Samantha; Kelley, Tina (November 30, 1998). "Charity Belle". People. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  23. ^ Shaw, Linda (April 30, 2007). "Washington Women's Foundation - Getting more women into the ranks of givers". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  24. ^ Bibby, Andrew (April 23, 2000). "Squaring the Charity Circle". The Observer. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  25. ^ Cain, Cindy (March 16, 2018). "Impact100 brings women together to create philanthropic power". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  26. ^ "The Funding Network: Welcome to the Dragon's Den of charity". City A.M. London. December 18, 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  27. ^ "The Funding Network 10th Anniversary Impact Report". 10th Impact Report. The Funding Network. July 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  28. ^ Schulte, Brigid (March 20, 2004). "Womenade:Women turn potluck party into charity". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  29. ^ "Dining for Women Amplifies Gender Equality Mission with New Name". Philanthropy Women. March 11, 2021. Retrieved March 14, 2023.
  30. ^ Ballard, Michaele; Dennis, Alicia (September 5, 2013). "Marsha Wallace's Nationwide Dining Club Helps Women Around the World". People. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  31. ^ Danico, Mary Yu, ed. (2014). Asian American Society: An Encyclopedia. SAGE Publications. p. 89. ISBN 9781452281896. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  32. ^ Veridiano, Ruby (January 28, 2016). "Asian Women Giving Circle: Sisterhood, Service, and the Game-Changing 'Geh'". NBC News. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  33. ^ a b Blancaflor, Saleah (August 2, 2016). "Asian-American LGBT Groups Find Support in Growing Community Giving Circles". NBC News. Retrieved December 24, 2022.
  34. ^ Ferrannini, John (June 29, 2021). "LGBTQ Agenda: Giving circles draw attention to Give OUT Day as Pride Month ends". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  35. ^ Di Mento, Maria (October 19, 2020). "Latino Community Foundation Builds a New Generation of Donors". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  36. ^ "Latino Community Foundation Invests Philanthropic Dollars In Businesses, Future Leaders & More". CBS Bay Area. April 7, 2021. Retrieved December 30, 2022.
  37. ^ Franklin, Jason (July 23, 2020). "Raising Funds From Giving Circles: Opportunities & Challenges of a Rising Collective Giving Model". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  38. ^ Travers, Julia (July 23, 2019). "We Are Unstoppable: How Female Philanthropists are Turning Giving Circles into a Movement". Ms. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
  39. ^ Dixon, Melanie (March 10, 2020). "CATALIST, The Network of Women's Collective Giving Groups is now PHILANOS". Greenville Women Giving. Retrieved March 14, 2023.

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