Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
When values, identity or community are common ground for improving quality of life, it only takes one person, one decision, one call to action in creating a powerful movement.
Giving circles, or collective giving, are a growing global movement that is shifting the landscape of philanthropy.
So, how does it work?
A group of friends, community members or business associates come together and pool their money, making individual contributions from $50 to $1,000 or more. Next, the learning begins. If groups don’t have a specific cause in mind, they research, vet and decide collectively on the issue or organization they’ll support.
That’s where the fun begins! Giving circles help to create real-time, positive change around the issues most important to its members. Often collective giving groups fill a void impacting campaigns or projects for racial inequality, LGBTQ+ communities, the arts, religious groups and international affairs, to name a few.
It takes planning and dedication to develop a giving circle, but it can be done. Philanthropy Together, a global initiative to grow and strengthen the giving circle movement, partners with more than a dozen giving circle networks to provide resources, training, and community to giving circle members and advocates around the world. Launchpad, Philanthropy Together's flagship program, is a virtual interactive training program to help passionate, diverse groups of community leaders start giving circles.
Giving circles empower compassionate community members to stand up with their community and address their needs. They fill funding gaps that often exist.
So, as we officially say goodbye to 2020 and countdown to the new year, let’s round up some of the remarkable giving circles that prove how “thoughtful, committed individuals” can make a positive impact on improving the quality of life within their communities.
International Giving Circles Were Ready, Aimed and Fired Off Quick Responses to Fund the COVID-19 Crisis
Here’s an example of how planning ahead averted failure to launch funds quickly when disaster, known as the coronavirus, struck and threatened people’s safety and security. These international philanthropic communities were able to act fast to aid both domestic and global citizens.
Hard Times Spring New Life, Hope & Sustainable Giving
This Inside Philanthropy article showcases the all-too-often irony summed up in a blunt yet poignant quote by Alayah Glenn, “The folks who are championing and leading the movements that are salient in this moment are the very folks who are seeing the least investment.”
These three articles emphasize the powerful engine that giving circles can be to mobilize a project, organization, or issue when resources and passion unite.
Funding Causes that Kickstart Change
Whether it’s investing in political protests or political artists, Black philanthropy groups in Denver and the Asian Women Giving Circle address social change issues with collective funding.
A Unique Giving Model Focuses on Homelessness
The U.S.’s number of homeless people is shamefully in the hundreds of thousands. Adding insult to injury, the pandemic helped to displace a few thousand more this year. Enter: Awesome Foundation. One of the things that makes this chartered giving circle so awesome is that it requires community buy-in upon grant approval, putting the recipients’ needs first.
Giving Beyond the Dollar
Though most giving circles focus on fund disbursement, like the Equitable Giving Circle combatting the discrepancy of charitable giving among BIPOC with a half-million dollar grant, it’s not always about the money. Indiana University, for example, pools resources, programs and services for its LGBTQ+ population of students, staff, faculty and alumni to ensure a safe and equitable environment to live and learn.
Outgrowing Stereotypes with STEM Grant
Encouraging youth to be all they can be while giving stereotypes the boot is the message Northern Virginia’s Business Women’s Giving Circles is sending to girls and young women involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs with their generous donation.
Pioneering Looks Like: Maximizing Movements
Pioneers are those creating new policies and are courageous enough to put their big, bold visions of inclusion, equity, and empowerment into action, creating positive change for future generations. A pioneering, trailblazing, change agent in every right is Sara Lomelin. Lomelin, executive director of Philanthropy Together, founded the Latino Giving Circle Network — the largest network of Latinx philanthropists in the U.S. with 22 circles and 500 members. Listen to this podcast as she talks about the $1.3 billion dollars in giving circle donations, and read articles about why she believes collective giving is the fuel for sustaining modern-day philanthropy.
You see, it all begins with intention, vision and a strong drive to make a difference.
Interested in starting a giving circle and joining the movement? Join the next Launchpad For You cohort and gain all the tips, tools, and resources you need to get started!