How to Start a Giving Circle
For when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me… whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me. – Matthew 25:35-40 (VOICE)
Step 1: Rally some Friends – Friends don’t let friends give alone.
- Choose a name for your Giving Circle
- Pray about & decide on where you want to focus your giving
- Determine how much each of you will give each month
Step 2: Choose a Cause – Nominate. Assess. Vote.
- Research who needs a gift that fits the goals of your Giving Circle
- Anyone in the group can nominate someone for a grant/gift
- Assess the nominations
- Pray & vote on where to give
Step 3: Change the World – Give. Connect. Repeat.
- Decide on how to give
- Get involved with those you support
- Learn more about why we are called to live generously
- Repeat each month
What is a Giving Circle?
Giving circles are a group of people who pool their donations and decide together how to distribute them. They can be small and informal or highly organized. They can be made up of people from any age, culture, or socioeconomic group.
The experience of participating in a Giving Circle provides a personalized, hands-on and innovative way to growing in generosity with others. Each month, members engage and inspire each other in the grace of giving.
Giving Circles allow people to become more strategic, educated givers no matter how much or little they contribute monetarily, and to get hands-on experience in evaluating prospective grantees/projects they give towards. It provides an opportunity to develop leadership and management skills as members research, evaluate and choose where to give.
In addition to helping create and strengthen social and communal connections, Giving Circles provide members the ability to engage in meaningful work with others, make new friends, and can help shape their understanding of not just how to give, but also how to think about giving.
Tips for Organizing a Giving Circle
Determine your mission. What are your goals? Do you want to benefit local nonprofits or do you wish to go with an international mission project? What issues are you interested in? Will you support one or several?
Decide how large your group should be and how it will be structured. Do you want a small group? Do you need committees? Will you hold events to raise funds? How much will you want your members to contribute? Will you include volunteer work among your activities?
Decide where your group will put your money while you decide where you will donate it.
Do you need a bank account? You may decide to have all the members write individual checks to the group you decide to fund. That alleviates the need for any separate account. Or, do you want to run the Giving Circle through your local church (with Board approval), to help you manage and distribute the funds?
Your local church may be able to support Giving Circles of young groups (children, youth groups) and traditionally marginalized givers by matching funds raised by these traditionally marginalized givers.
Do your research. Meet with those you are interested in supporting to find out what they do, how they do it, if they seem efficient in how they spend their funds. You may ask for formal requests from groups that would like your donation; and, certainly, after you contribute you will want progress reports from the recipients.
For more information on giving circles:
How to Maximize Your Giving Through a Giving Circle
Connected to Give: Community Circles
Giving Circles Knowledge Center
Generous Steward Ministry of The Free Methodist Church in Canada