Household giving has dipped during the recession, according to the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. Yet individual donors continue to give over $210 billion each year to causes and charities.
Shared giving stretches these dollars, and builds community at the same time.
Below, Jessica E. Bearman describes the growing phenomenon of giving circles in “More Giving Together,” a report for the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.
“The concept is as simple as it is powerful. A giving circle is formed when individuals come together and pool their dollars, decide together where to give the money (and other resources such as volunteer time), and learn together about their community and philanthropy.
“Within these basic parameters, giving circles and shared giving take myriad forms. No giving circle looks or acts exactly like another. Indeed, the opportunity to shape a group to meet the particular needs of a community and the particular interests and capabilities of donors remains one of the most appealing aspects of a giving circle.
“Some giving circles—such as the five-person Brooklyn, New York-based group One Percent for Moms—are small enough to meet in a living room and make all decisions through discussion and consensus. Others—like the 57-member Latino Giving Circle hosted by the Chicago Community Trust—partner with a local organization, such as a community foundation, through which they make grants and receive some administrative support. The Washington Women’s Foundation in Seattle engages more than 400 women and operates with its own nonprofit status and a staff of four. Members’ donations to giving circles range from less than $100 to more than $100,000 each year.”