The popularity of giving circles -- a form of philanthropy where donors with shared values pool their money to fund specific causes or organizations -- has exploded in recent years. In partnership with Grapevine, we’re spotlighting several circles that are centering equity in their work and addressing the root causes of social issues. 

Meet New England International Donors (NEID).

Tell us about the purpose of your giving circle. 

NEID is offering two giving circles in 2021: 

  1. NEID's Global Philanthropy: A Lever for Racial Justice giving circle will explore various ways in which donors can become more intentional on issues of race, justice, and inequality in their global giving practices and identify specific strategies on how to adopt a racial justice lens in doing due diligence and/or evaluation of impact. 
  2. NEID’s Clean Water & Climate Change giving circle will meet once a month from December to June to better understand the global clean water challenge, how climate change further destabilizes water availability, and how donors can make a strategic difference by funding organizations that smartly confront the underlying issues leading to clean water challenges.

Please share more about the leadership of your giving circle. Who started it and why?

NEID is a peer-to-peer learning network of passionate and dedicated global philanthropists. Since 2017 we have been running internationally-focused giving circles and they have rapidly become very popular among our members because they offer intimate but deep learning environments. The themes vary every year and each circle includes five to six sessions. The members of the circle are led by a Chair who has some expertise on the issue, but all circle members determine the direction of the learning that takes place. Our Global Philanthropy: A Lever for Racial Justice circle will be chaired by Dana François of the W.K Kellogg Foundation and Karen Ansara of the Ansara Family Fund. Our Clean Water and Climate Change circle will be chaired by Dan Sarles of the Eaglemere Foundation.  

Why did you choose the giving circle model?

We designed our giving circles in order to offer global donors a safe space to share and learn from each other on current issues in international philanthropy and development. The first sessions are centered around learning and the final sessions involve proposing and selecting grantees. Our members not only learn about specific issue areas, but also are guided through a journey on grantee evaluation and proposal selection. A year after we select grantees we reconnect with them in order to catch up on how they are doing and how they used our grant.

What does impact and success look like to you?

NEID is a community of donors that is dedicated to actively addressing a range of global challenges through philanthropy. Our giving circles provide an opportunity for donors to engage in learning and giving together. Success is engaging more donors and investments in international philanthropy in a strategic and meaningful manner. 

What do you want potential donors to know about giving circles and the issue you’re addressing?

Our giving circles are very popular for a variety of reasons described in this Forbes article. They provide a safe space for learning but also offer donors the opportunity to meet experts, grantees, and other donors dedicated to similar issues. 

In reaction to current events, donors across the country have been rethinking their giving commitments in order to support people-of-color-led organizations and to generate structural solutions to issues of inequality and race in the United States. How to align international philanthropic approaches is less obvious, but it is just as important for donors to do so at this historic moment. This Global Philanthropy: A Lever for Racial Justice giving circle provides donors with tools to become attuned to local dynamics of power and inequality; to be more proximal to the issues they seek to support; and to develop local partnerships and authentic relationships of trust to ensure sustainable impact.

The emergence of COVID-19 has further underlined the need for urgent action to enable universal access to clean water in order to protect global health and safety. NEID’s Clean Water & Climate Change giving circle will help donors better understand the challenges and learn about organizations that are making an impact.

How can donors get involved with your giving circle or generally participate in the giving circle movement?

All interested in joining the NEID’s giving circles should register on Grapevine by Jan. 21. Please note that becoming a NEID member is required to join both circles. NEID membership requires that someone has the capacity to give $5,000 annually and an interest in being an internationally oriented donor. The circles are a perfect way to learn how to do international grantmaking. They are also popular among seasoned donors seeking to learn more about a particular issue. Current NEID members will be asked to contribute a minimum of $1,200, while new, incoming members are asked to first become NEID members ($500) and then contribute $1,000 to the circle. All session dates (December through June) are listed on the NEID Grapevine giving circle site, where donors can also register.