Giving Circles Knowledge Center
Throughout history, passionate individuals have joined together to make life better in their communities. Today, thousands of donors pool their money, energy, and ideas to create giving circles.
Giving circles have emerged the last decade as a growing and significant philanthropic trend among donors of all wealth levels and backgrounds. Past studies have shown that the number of giving circles has exploded across the country and that they are an established philanthropic force. A new report finds that donors say they give more, give more strategically, and are more knowledgeable about nonprofit organizations and problems in their communities when they participate in giving circles. Read the Forum announcement about the release of this report.
Learn more about this 2009 research on giving circles by reading a snapshot of the findings (PDF) or the full report (PDF).
Want to start a giving circle? Read the 10 Basics Steps to Starting a Giving Circle!
Host a giving circle! Tools for community foundations, nonprofits, or other organizations considering or currently hosting giving circles.
In This Area
- The Basics: Giving Circles
Overview of giving circles, their benefit to donors and communities, whether a giving circle is right for you and why the Forum works with them.
- Set Up a Giving Circle
Tips and sample documents: size, structure, focus, recruit members, how much members should contribute, where to keep the circle’s money, administrative costs, host organization decisions.
- Manage a Giving Circle
Management tools and sample documents: grantee identification, proposal requests and assessment, site visits, promotion, member education, endowment, giving circle impact.
- Host a Giving Circle
Tips and sample documents: definition of a circle host, host organizational readiness, possible services to offer, host agreement templates.
- Connect to Giving Circles
Resources for networking: What other circles are doing, nationwide giving circles directory, and read success stories from giving circles across the country.
- The Impact of Giving Together: A Snapshot of a Study on Giving Circles’ Influence on Philanthropic and Civic Behaviors, Knowledge, and Attitudes (PDF)
A short summary document with key findings and recommendations from the 2009 study on the effect participating in a giving circle has on a donor’s philanthropic and civic behaviors.
- Giving Circles’ Influence on Members’ Philanthropic and Civic Behaviors, Knowledge and Attitudes (PDF, 1MB)
A 2009 study by Dr. Angela Eikenberry and Jessica Bearman, with research assistance from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, on the impacts of participating in a giving circle on a donor’s engagement in, knowledge of, and attitudes toward philanthropy and civic life.
- Giving Together: A National Scan of Giving Circles and Shared Giving (PDF, 742 KB)
2005 study documents and describes the range and types of giving circle-related activity nationwide, published by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Hard copies are available by contacting Courtney Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-879-0809).
- Hosting a Giving Circle: The Benefits and Challenges of Giving Together (PDF)
An April 2008 analysis by the Forum of the relationship between giving circles and their host organizations; accompanies a handbook of tools for considerations when hosting a circle.
- More Giving Together: The Growth and Impact of Giving Circles and Shared Giving (PDF, 1MB)
A broad study commissioned in 2007 by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers of the characteristics, benefits, and impact of giving circles across the country.
- Connect to Other Giving Circles
Ways that you can connect with and learn about other giving circles.
- Women’s Giving Circles: Reflections from the Founders (PDF)
Women's Giving Circles: Reflections from the Founders adds the valuable perspective of personal narrative to understanding the growth of giving circles over the past ten years. Focused on the motivations, challenges, and opportunities of the 18 giving circle founders interviewed, the booklet is a testament to two factors that propelled this grassroots phenomenon – media interest and the powerful women’s social network.
- Giving Circle Media Tools for Regional Associations
For regional associations: A collection of documents related to promoting giving circles in your region. Please use the information here as you see fit, whether from fact sheets or other related documents.