Since 2017, New England International Donors (NEID) has run nine different internationally focused giving circles which have become popular among its members for the intimate, but deep learning environments. The peer-to-peer learning network of passionate and dedicated global philanthropists gives to a range of issues and in varying levels and ways. Looking ahead to 2022, NEID will facilitate two new giving circles focused on equity and our planet. Learn more in this Q&A.

Q. Tell us about the purpose of your giving circles

The themes of our circles vary every year and each one is led by a philanthropist or expert who has significant expertise on the issue. All circles start in December and end in June with seven sessions in total. They are designed to be inclusive and the directional focus of each circle is determined collectively by all circle members. Our 2022 Indigenous Philanthropy giving circle will be chaired by Lourdes Inga of the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP). Our 2022 Oceans giving circle will be chaired by Elizabeth Stephenson of the New England Aquarium and Jason Donofrio of the Ocean Foundation. 

Indigenous Philanthropy Giving Circle:

This giving circle aims to foster a greater understanding of Indigenous peoples: Their cosmovision, values, way of life, and rights as peoples. NEID is convening this giving circle in partnership with IFIP in order to support funders to develop and adopt strategies and practices that prioritize funding to Indigenous peoples. 

The giving circle will meet once a month from Dec. 15 to June 13 to promote transformative funding practices that come from a position of respect and appreciation of Indigenous people's leadership, knowledge, diversity, and activism. 

Oceans Giving Circle:

This giving circle will convene to explore the intersectionality of marine conservation, local livelihoods, and climate resilience by examining the greatest threats to our world ocean, and exploring the range of effective solutions being locally deployed. From regulating the climate to providing food security to billions of people worldwide, we must invest in a healthy ocean if we wish to experience a healthy future.

This giving circle will meet once a month from Dec. 13 to June 15.

Q. What does impact and success look like?

NEID is a community of donors that are dedicated to actively addressing a range of global challenges through their philanthropy. Our giving circles provide an opportunity for donors to engage in learning and giving together. For us, success is when more philanthropists have the tools to actively support a range of different challenges globally in a strategic and meaningful manner. We also hope that our circles help funders find partners to eventually co-invest with and that our seven-month journey in the circles exposes donors to more grantees doing exceptional work in the area focused on. 

Q. Why is the giving circle an effective vehicle for this work?

Our giving circles are very popular for a variety of reasons. Past circle members have loved the opportunity to take a deep dive into a particular issue that interests them while at the same time getting to know other peers seeking to engage on the same issue. In addition, philanthropists that are new to international philanthropy benefit from the safe space and an opportunity to learn what international philanthropy involves. Seasoned donors have found that the circles give them added knowledge through the experts that speak, while also gaining exposure to potential grantees.  

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

There are many issues that need attention globally, but climate change and creating systems of equity intersects all of them. The thematic focus of our circles are determined by our members, and this year they choose to focus on oceans and Indigenous philanthropy because both issue areas within international philanthropy represent frontiers where so much can be learned about how to support climate mitigation and climate resilience. Similarly, supporting Indigenous communities means understanding their way of life. This worldview also has valuable lessons for how to be more inclusive and take better care of our planet

Q. How can donors get involved with your giving circles or generally participate in the giving circle movement?
Donors interested in joining NEID’s giving circles should join the first sessions of the circle in December and register on Grapevine by Jan. 21. Please note: Becoming a NEID member is required to join our giving circles. NEID membership requires that someone has the capacity to give $10,000 annually and an interest in being an internationally oriented donor. Current NEID members will be asked to contribute an additional minimum of $1,200 to the giving circle, while new members are asked to first become NEID members ($750) and then contribute $1,000 to the circle. All session dates are listed on the NEID Grapevine giving circle site, where donors can also register.