Making philanthropic donations is not just for the rich and famous. Anyone can easily get involved with contributing to their communities and causes that they care about. Giving circles are becoming a popular way for everyday people to give back. Through giving circles, those that want to make an impact are able to be a part of a giving and decision-making process. Giving circles have been around for many years and are becoming increasingly well-known and used. In fact, the number of giving circles in existence have tripled in just the last decade alone and is expected to grow to 350,000 people in the next five years. So what is a giving circle and how might you get involved with these communities of giving? It is easy to get involved once you’ve decided you want to help out. Here’s all you need to know when it comes to your own journey in philanthropy.
What Is a Giving Circle?
Giving circles are charitable giving groups made up of friends, family, coworkers, or other members of a community. These circles can be made up of a handful of people or up to thousands of people. The main purpose is for them to serve as a way for a group of people to come together, pool their finances, and decide on a cause to contribute their funds to. The giving circle model is infinitely flexible and has no limitations when it comes to membership. Each individual giving circle decides for themselves how much each person will contribute, how often to meet, and what to give to. This means they are accessible and easy ways for anyone interested in philanthropy to get involved.
How Do Giving Circles Work?
Giving circles operate in a variety of ways depending on the individual goals and make up of the group. However, most will function based on similar steps in order to get their charitable contributions into the community. It begins with a group of any number of people who have decided they want to come together for philanthropic reasons. This group then determines the amount of funding they are wanting to give to their community. Next, giving circles will discuss what the group’s values, interests, vision, etc. are in order to determine what issues and organizations to fund. A grant-making process is then created, and financial logistics are sorted out. Finally, the group makes their contribution before setting up additional meetings or community engagements.
How Do Giving Circles Invest Their Money?
Giving circles choose to invest their money based on the decision-making of the group. This is where financial logistics are determined. Individuals in the group come together to decide their funding criteria which can be based on creating applications, deciding who qualifies, and how to report this. There’s a variety of ways to go about the actual investing. Some organizations prefer to vet and vote together while others pool funding without any grant approval process. Some larger giving circles will even create a committee that does most of the vetting and sends out information to members.
How Can You Start a Giving Circle?
Starting your own giving circle is an option if there aren’t any created that you’re interested in. The bulk of creating a giving circle involves forming your group of philanthropists and figuring out what your commitments and values are. The United Philanthropy Forum gives a great ten step summary of how to start your own circle and Amplifier offers a downloadable document for giving circle essentials. From start to finish this will involve building your membership, deciding on contributions and grant process and following through so organizations you have chosen are getting their funding. Remember to revisit your short- and long-term goals often and take feedback from those around you to continuously improve your giving procedures.
Where to Find a Giving Circle To Join
There are plenty of giving circles that are already established if you’re looking to join one. Many are open to membership and have local contacts for you to reach out to. The great thing about this is that there is already a wide variety of causes and organizations to choose from which means you can find one that aligns with your own passions. Use these resources to find a giving circle to join:
There are endless possibilities when it comes to giving circles so take your time and search through directories for what interests you or start your own to get your own social circle mobilized in giving. These circles are a simple way for everyone to get involved regardless of financial background. Join this movement in bringing about change in the world.