Giving Circles – Starter Kit
Tuesday, 5th July 2005 at 1:07 pm
US Women are changing the way Americans give to charity. Known as giving circles, small groups of friends and acquaintances are coming together to pool their money to make a difference in their communities.
A new report by New Ventures in Philanthropy, an initiative of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, reveals that giving circles are a growing phenomenon.
Giving circles involve thousands of women across the country who are donating millions of dollars to worthy causes.
Sondra Shaw-Hardy in Michigan formed a giving circle after what she described as her own frustration over women being left out of traditional philanthropy.
The 60 members of The Three Generations Circle of Women each contribute $1,000 annually to support charities working to stop domestic abuse.
Even women of very modest means can start a giving circle. Each month, another group calling themselves “Dining for Women” gather for a potluck dinner at one member’s home. The women pool the money they would have spent on dinner out — about $30 each — and donate it to a different organisation each month.
Jessica Bearman, the New Ventures deputy director says starting something big is and just about any social group — church groups, book clubs, or girls’ nights out — can become a giving circle by collectively giving to charities in their area.
Based on anecdotal evidence the giving circle concept is also taking off in Australia.
One Melbourne group of women who get together each week for a session they call ‘stitch and bitch’ has begun pooling their donation dollars to support a local women’s refuge.
A group of young professionals who hold regular dinner parties make a donation to a local cause that they decide on during the course of their evening.
As a starting point to organise a giving circle, New Ventures suggests the following first steps:
* Talk to your friends, neighbours, and anyone in your network of acquaintances about your idea. You’ll be surprised by how many people are interested.
* Once you have a core group, get together and discuss how often you want to meet, how much you can afford to donate, and what causes you want to support.
*Take advantage of the Giving Circle Knowledge Centre Starter Kit. If you would like an electronic copy send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Giving Circle Starter Kit” in the subject title.