For most families, giving to charity means scraping together twenty or fifty dollars a few times a year, perhaps volunteering for an event once in a while. They might give a dollar to an unknown cause when prompted by a cashier at a grocery store. People who are not billionaires do not make big waves individually, but they can learn to give smarter and make an impact when united by a giving circle. Giving circles are an excellent way to make giving more efficient. Participating as a family can also make the next generation smarter making a difference in communities around the world.
A giving circle is a group of people that meets once a month or a few times a year to discuss different causes and then collectively choose one to donate to. Money is pooled together from all participants and then given as one donation. Each member of the circle can write checks individually, or the group can choose to open a bank account that everyone deposits into. There are also hosting organizations such as local foundations that are often willing to hold the donations.
A good place to start is to pool together 10 to 15 families in your neighborhood that are willing to commit one or two thousand dollars a year to the circle. They can make monthly donations or bring the annual funds to one of the meetings. Decisions about the structure of a giving circle will need to be made as well, such as whether there is a president, how long that person will reign, and whether there is an executive committee.
The benefit of having a giving a circle rather than just committing to donating to charity is fostering a sense of community and accountability in your circle of neighbors, family or friends. Children can attend meetings and learn how to make a case for certain causes, event planning and develop ideas for fundraisers. Families can think more intelligently about where charitable donations are going. It also can encourage more giving and transparency about what community organizations make the most impact depending on what donations they receive.