So what is a giving circle anyway?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead (Cultural anthropologist)


Giving circles are a relatively new type of philanthropy having only been introduced to Australia in 2012 by James Boyd with the launch of Impact100 WA.


Since that time, at least 13 giving circles (with formal structures) like 100 Women have started right around the country. With a generally low entry point, an immediate connection to a community of like-minded donors and the ability to leverage the impact of each individual contribution, the interest in giving circles is growing.


Simply, a giving circle is a group of individuals who pool their resources for the benefit of their community knowing their efforts go much further collectively than alone.


What this generally looks like is:

  • Individuals donating money to a combined funding pool
  • The funding pool has an agreed philanthropic purpose
  • Individuals in the circle volunteer to run the group and its activities.
  • Members decide which organisations will get funded and often get involved with the organisations that are funded
  • Giving circles educate members about philanthropy and issues in their community, they engage members and have a social element
  • Giving circles are independent from the not-for-profit (NFP) organisations that they fund.


Sometimes giving circles can be mistaken for ‘circles of giving’ or ‘donor circles’. These however are fundraising initiatives with a direct relationship with one NFP. The not-for-profit may create and manage the group and the members fund that organisation exclusively rather than a number of NFPs.


Giving circles provide members with opportunities to learn, share, grow and network with like-minded people in a supportive environment. The community benefits through increased philanthropic funding but also engaged community citizens and volunteers who often provide assistance at multiple organisations.


Our 100 Women members say that they are part of the giving circle because:

  • The combination of donations through the giving circle creates a larger scale impact than I could ever have as an individual.
  • There is a shared vision of a better future for all women and girls.
  • There is an opportunity to make a direct, measured and important contribution to organisations that resonate with my personal values.
  • I have a feeling of fulfillment through compassionate giving, as the saying goes “living is giving”.
  • There is belonging to a group who aren’t just thinking about it, they are taking action on philanthropy.
  • I am connected to other philanthropists who are from all walks of life.
  • The strong governance means donations and the grant making process are carefully and rigorously managed.
  • New grant recipients are selected each year.


Are you interested to find out more? 100 Women has a Connect Event on 11 May, hosted by our Advisory Board for members and friends. Tickets are available here. Ready to be a positive catalyst for women and girls now? Join now.


Written by Kristy Rodwell

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