Village Earth

Amplify Your Giving, Organize a Giving Circle!


Do you ever wish that you could do more than than just a contribute $20 or $50 dollars to a project that in total may cost many thousands of dollars? Wouldn’t it be nice to fund an entire project and have a more intimate role with all phases of implementation? If you answered yes to the questions above, than you should organize a giving circle.

“Giving circles are a form of philanthropy where groups of individuals donate their own money or time to a pooled fund, decide together where to give these away to charity or community projects and, in doing so, seek to increase their awareness of and engagement in the issues covered by the charity or community project. Many circles, in addition to donating their money, also contribute their time and skills to support causes.” — Wikipedia

Tides Foundation put together 10 easy steps to forming a giving cirlce. They are:

  1.  Reach out to family and friends to discuss the idea to see if there is interest.  Discuss what areas you may want to focus on and set a date for the first meeting.
  2. At the first meeting create the circle structure, including financial contributions. How often will the members meet? Will everyone give the same amount?
  3. Establish a mission with agreed upon goals and intentions.  What problem do you want to address? What would you like to accomplish?
  4. Decide how you will select grantees.  Will it be organizations with which at least one member is familiar?  Will you focus in a local community? Will it be a majority-rule process?
  5.  Organize grantmaking timelines.  How much do you want to give away annually?  How large or small you want your grants to be?
  6. Decide where to keep your grantmaking funds. Depending on your needs you may want to consider a public charity, a community foundation or a financial institution.
  7. Double check with yourself and your members if you want to make this commitment. Giving circles are one of the most active forms of philanthropy.  It takes dedication and a lot of time from the members to ensure success.
  8. Ensure every member has a task in addition to their donation.  Some members could be responsible for researching potential grantees, while others can start to draft your mission statement.  This will help build personal commitment and accountability for each member.
  9. Write up the grantmaking rules and process regulations of your circle and share with all of the members.  These regulations may include who will be responsible for collecting the contributions, and who will be the primary contact with the host organization.
  10. Decide on your grantmaking process.  Will you have a formal RFP process or rely on the suggestions of members?  Will you conduct site visits?

These guidelines are not linear nor are they the only way to start a giving circle.  Trust in the collective instincts of the group and do what makes sense for your circle.

If you are interested in forming a giving a circle Village Earth can help. We offer the following benefits for groups that make a pledge to raising funds for any of Village Earth’s Global Affiliates. This might include:

  • In-person presentations for your circle so they can learn about our Affiliates or dialogue about the status of project they have funded.
  • Regular telephone or video conferences with project leaders around the globe.
  • Site visits to see or help implement  projects your circle has funded.

To facilitate the formation of your giving circle, we have partnered with SocialFund.org.

Social Fund is for groups of people who want to start combined charitable giving accounts. You start one with your family, friends, student organization, or faith community, and pitch in each month. After a few months have passed, your fund votes on where to give out grants, with more than 1.8 million charities to choose from!

We recommend Social Fund for groups that may dispersed or who are unfamiliar with one-another and need a way to efficiently collaborate and collect funds online. Village Earth can also create an account for your group, when you reach a certain account balance your group can then decide how to allocate those funds, either to one or more projects. For more information contact David Bartecchi [email protected]

Upcoming Courses in the Village Earth/CSU Online Certificate Program in Community-Based Development

Fall I Session

GSLL 1518 – Community-Based Food Systems

During this five week course, you will learn about various approaches to building community-based food systems and movements for food justice around the world. Together, we will evaluate successful efforts at food system relocalization and the protection of community food resources, as well as the factors that threaten these efforts.

Register Now »
Summer II Session

GSLL 1510 – Community-Based Mapping

This course explores theories, ethics, applications, and methods of community-based mapping and its role in participatory learning and action as well as larger processes of integrated community-based development.

Register Now »

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