“Sister, brother – or just someone who cares”: How Giving Circles celebrate the power of giving and reclaim what it means to be a donor

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Generosity, impact, social connections, and fun: Giving Circles offer a winning blend. They are also playing an increasingly important role in helping to strengthen and contribute to the growing global field of community philanthropy around the world. The growth of Giving Circles is happening within a larger global shift towards an appreciation of the power and potential of everyday generosity, made possible by new technology (through online platforms such as GlobalGiving and GoFundMe etc.), and framed as a form civic participation and collective organizing (by, for example, the Giving Tuesday movement and The Funding Network).

This study explores how a simple idea, which involves bringing people together with the sole purpose of giving – and giving together – has been shaped and adapted to fit in different countries and cultures. It draws on a series of conversations with Giving Circle organizers and practitioners from across the GFCF’s global network and beyond, and includes perspectives from Brazil, Belgium, Hungary, Palestine, Russia, Romania, South Africa, United States and Vietnam. Some of these Giving Circles have emerged organically, while others have benefited from external mentorship and support.

Despite the diversity of contexts, of communities, of the specific strategies and purposes behind them, the study shows how, regardless of their location, Giving Circles are about building connections, trust and understanding between people. Giving Circles bring together different members of a community: whether as “givers”, as “doers”, or as both. In that sense, they are about more than money. In fact, while the simple idea of Giving Circles is built around giving, in several instances they also involve a political framing which – either implicitly or explicitly – rejects the power of “big philanthropy.”

Author: Tarisai Jangara

Published: December 2021

Published by: GFCF

Download: “Sister, brother – or just someone who cares”: How Giving Circles celebrate the power of giving and reclaim what it means to be a donor


Watch the recording of the launch of the paper, held 27 January 2022, featuring contributions from the Arkhangelsk Centre of Social Technologies Garant (Russia), Community Development Foundation Western Cape (South Africa) and Dalia Association (Palestine):

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