Start your own giving circle!

A “giving circle” is a collective giving vehicle used by individuals who want to pool their resources to provide funding in mutually agreed upon issue areas or communities. Many circles, in addition to donating their money, also contribute their time and skills to support local causes. Giving circles are also seen as a great way to democratize decisions in philanthropy, since they usually involve bottom-up decision making among grassroots community members.

Giving circles are more popular than ever. Neighbors, friends or colleagues joining together to make gifts more focused and more meaningful. Because even in small numbers, when there’s consistency over time, change can happen. Small group of people can change so much. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has! To read more about a giving circle, read our interview with New York City Young Feminist Giving Circle (NY-Fem) who generously made a grant to FRIDA in 2016.

Here are 7 easy steps to start a giving circle:

1. Set your goals and structure: It’s important to have a goal in mind and a tentative plan to reach there. It doesn’t have to be very concrete or rigid but it’s surely useful to keep some questions in mind before starting a giving circle. For instance:

  • How many times will our group meet?
  • How will we determine our funding focus?
  • Where do we hold our meetings? Online and/or in-person?
  • What is the size or range of the financial contribution each of our member will make?
  • What is the time and skill commitment?

2. Name your group and define your mission: It helps to have a catchy name, although as long as you know what you want to achieve from this creative endeavor, you are all set to go

3. Decide where to place your collective money: Some options include opening a joint bank account, having an individual bank transfers to the chosen non-profit etc., partnering with an organization that can act as a financial administrator of the funds.

4. Define a focus area for your group based on what matters to you the most: Climate change, sexist attitude and rape culture, LGBT rights, sex workers rights, sexual and reproductive health rights: there are a host of issues that can be close to you. It’s important to be focussed on what you want people to pay attention to.

5. Create a process and criteria for funding

6. Define your partnership with the recipient of your grant: Do members of your circle want to volunteer for an organization you have funded? Something to think about.

7. Evaluate Your Giving Circle: On a regular basis, examine the short-term and long-term goals of your giving circle. This will help develop a sense of satisfaction with the work you are doing and show how your contributions have made a difference. Try to understand what impact the group has had. Ask for feedback from the organizations you have funded.

Get in touch with us at info[at]youngfeministfund[dot]org to discuss more of your ideas around resourcing young feminist initiatives.