Collaboration , involvement and control look like a continuing trends in philanthropy, as evidenced by a couple of recent news stories. Last week, the Indianapolis Star
highlighted the popularity of giving circles
, particularly among women. Small groups of friends and associates meet to pool their philanthropic budgets, learn about giving opportunities, and jointly make gifts. This collaboration offers donors a larger impact and a more satisfying experience than individual donations , and probably stimulates more enthusiasm and involvement in philanthropy. Giving circles vary widely, from small groups of friends (even children have formed giving circles) to professional networks, and the amounts they contribute vary just as widely.
A recent report by New Ventures in Philanthropy
indicates that giving circles have contributed $44 million to various nonprofits nationwide over the past five years. Three quarters of the giving circles they surveyed have an ongoing relationship with, or are “hosted by” an established nonprofit organization, frequently a community foundation.
Are there giving circles in your community? Do they know about your organization and its needs? Could this be a vehicle to get your constituents more involved—and perhaps, to help your best volunteers bring new donors into the fold? The Giving Forum has more information about what giving circles are and how to start them.
It’s worth a look!Venture philanthropy
is another method by which donors have taken a more active role in supporting the nonprofits they care about. Social Venture Partners,
the network of donors launched in Seattle eight years ago to bring a “venture capital” model of involvement to their giving, has taken another step. Today, they announced a partnership with Foundation Source,
a private organization that provides back-office support services like administration, compliance monitoring, federal and state filings and grants management to private foundations, serving donors who want the simplicity of a donor-advised fund without giving up the control offered by a private foundation. Now, the donors affiliated with the more than 300 foundations that are Foundation Source clients will be encouraged to follow the SVP model of active engagement with the organizations they support.
I define cultivation as the process of getting donors interested in and enthused about giving. The spread of giving circles, venture philanthropy, and mechanisms that make giving easier are all forms of cultivation—as researchers, we need to be the final link, bringing these newly aware and enthusiastic donors into contact with the organizations we serve.