Giving circles have been praised for their potential to democratize philanthropy. But thinking more ambitiously, can they play a role in democratizing democracy itself? That is, can they encourage organizations promoting social change and equity?

In an online survey commissioned by Philanthropy Together, the Social Justice Giving Circle Project (SJGCP) heard from more than 60 people this winter. Representing 56 giving circles, these respondents shared their approaches to social justice giving and provided a snapshot of where the movements for giving circles and social justice currently intersect.

Coordinated by Joelle Asaro Berman, Seiji Carpenter, Lijia Gong, and Mario Lugay, the SJGCP is a new effort, in partnership with Philanthropy Together, aimed at building a framework for giving circles that want to do more to uphold social justice values and be accountable to movement leaders.

It’s in the Data: “Social justice” is Still an Unknown

The project results point to an existing gap that could signify a major opportunity for shifting this kind of collective giving: giving circles have the desire to be connected to — or even considered part of — social justice movements but have yet to translate social justice values into their giving circle’s practices and behaviors.

Ninety-five percent of groups surveyed say that “social justice giving circle” describes their group “at least slightly well,” but of those same groups only 15% say they’ve “heard quite a bit about social justice best practices.”

Read the full article about giving circles by Maggie May at Johnson Center.