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The Impact of Giving Together: Giving Circles’ Influence on Members’ Philanthropic and Civic Behaviors, Knowledge, and Attitudes

Publication date: 
March, 2009
United Philanthropy ForumUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaCenter on Philanthropy at Indiana University

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. The Impact of Giving Together 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.

Giving circles are groups of individuals who pool their money and other resources and decide together where to give these away. They are often formed by friends or like-minded individuals as a way to be more engaged in the giving process and to increase their knowledge of philanthropy, nonprofits and their community. Giving circles can have a big impact on members and communities in these difficult economic times.
Released by the University of Nebraska at Omaha, United Philanthropy Forum, and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, The Impact of Giving Together specifically examines the impact of giving circles on members’ giving and civic engagement. Findings include: 
  • Giving circle members say they give more and give in more strategic ways than other donors.
  • Giving circle members are highly engaged in their communities.  Giving circles also increase members’ knowledge about philanthropy, nonprofits, and community needs.
  • Giving circle members say they give to a greater number of organizations, compared to other donors.
  • Giving circle members are more likely than other donors to give to areas less often funded by organized philanthropy, such as to organizations serving women and girls, ethnic and minority groups, and for arts, culture and ethnic awareness. 
  • Giving circles can have even a greater impact in these difficult economic times because members pool their donations and are able to make larger grants to nonprofits then they could have individually, and they are providing creative opportunities for new ways to give.
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