pepper rutland-giving circle-philanthropyOne of the most rewarding things to do is to give back to your community and world. According to, Americans donated at least $373.25 in 2015—and the trend is increasing. Many people find causes that are close to them and contribute to them monthly or annually. While some supporters are lone givers, there are more who belong to a giving circle. These philanthropic groups range from a few members to several hundred. Members combine their time and resources for the cause of their choice. They operate much like the charitable societies of the past.

Sometimes, it is easier to give when you do it with others. Giving circles increase the total donations exponentially. If you are interested in forming a giving circle, here are some useful tips:


  1. Who will join the circle?


The best way to find like-minded givers is among your family and friends. Social media is an ideal way to state your cause and see who would like to join. You can even run a small advertisement in the newspaper. The circle can be any size that you choose. Remember that even a small group can make a large impact on a worthy cause.


  1. What is your giving circle’s cause?


After you have garnered interest with a general cause, your giving circle should narrow down its mission. Discuss what your goals will be and whether you giving will be local, national, or global. Your cause may have several charities working toward it. Your group may decide to give to one or several.


  1. How will you determine which charities receive your funding?


After you have decided your cause, then you can focus charities associated with it. Research potential charities before you give. Find out exactly what they do. Look at their financial reports and see how much money is actually going to the charity. According to, no more than 33.3% of a charity’s budget should go to their overhead. See how well they are spending their money for the cause. Do not be afraid to ask questions.


  1. How will you organize your circle?


Giving circle organization depends on how big it is. If there are only a handful of members, you can designate a leader who will take care of your funds. Larger groups may require an elected board and committees. No matter how your circle is organized, you will have to decide on things like individual contributions and volunteerism.


  1. How will your donated funds be managed?


Managing giving circle funds requires transparency and responsibility. Depending on your group’s size, you may control anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand dollars. If you elected a board, then your treasurer will handle the money. If you do not want to set up a group bank account, you can always have everyone write their checks directly to your chosen charity.


Charitable giving is an admirable goal. When you form a giving circle, you have the ability to donate more money and resources. Giving benefits the giver just as much as the receiver.