Giving circles are becoming an increasingly popular way for diverse groups of individual donors to support charities or projects of shared interest, a report from the Collective Giving Research Group and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy's Women's Philanthropy Institute finds.
Released in conjunction with the first-ever summit for giving circle networks, the report, The Landscape of Giving Circles/Collective Giving Groups in the U.S. — 2016 (48 pages, PDF), found that the number of giving circles in the U.S. has more than tripled since 2007 — including more than a thousand independently run groups and more than five hundred chapters that are part of giving circle networks and programs. The report also found that of the 759 giving circles for which a start date could be determined, 46.1 percent were launched in 2010 or later, that the average membership size for giving circles in the U.S. was 116, and that, overall, giving circles were responsible for having donated nearly $1.3 billion to date.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via the Women's Philanthropy Institute and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the report found that about 60 percent of the giving circles identified in the study were formed around a particular identity, with women's giving circles accounting for 48.5 percent of the total, followed by Jewish, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, and African-American groups. The report also found that women accounted for about 50 percent of the members of about 70 percent of all giving circles, and that the numbers of men's circles and LGBTQ circles had increased over the last decade.
"This study documents that the philanthropic landscape is rapidly expanding to include a more diverse group of donors," said WPI director Debra J. Mesch. "We see that women from different identity groups and backgrounds continue to come together and pool their resources for greater impact in their community. Communities can benefit greatly by recognizing and drawing on the power of these groups."