“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

A couple of weeks ago on NPR, I learned about the concept of giving circles:

Charitable donations have been declining, along with the economy. But one type of giving appears to be on the rise: giving circles. Many people are forming these groups where they pool their funds so they can have a greater impact on a charitable cause. Their growth comes at a time when donors say they want more control over how their charitable dollars are spent.

According to a new study, donors in giving circles give more, give more strategically, and are more engaged in their communities. Since giving circles include social, educational, and engagement components, they connect participants to their communities by increasing one’s understanding of philanthropy in an interactive, hands-on way.

Think of a giving circle as a cross between a book club, neighborly potluck or investment group, but with philanthropic purpose. These types of meetups expand charitable giving from an individual activity into a social, community-oriented one.

If you are interested in starting a giving circle, there are some great resources on the web including:

Ten Steps for Starting a Giving Circle

How-to documents and best practices to help you start a giving circle

Study: The Impact of Giving Together

This story inspired me. More tomorrow about my idea for the type of giving circle I’d like to start with my social/community network. Now what about you? Would a giving circle inspire you to give more (in both time and money) especially during this current economic downturn? I’d love your thoughts on the topic below.

Giving circles do give to foundations like the ones started by Ehsan Bayat that empower and aid communities.