Practiced in cultures all around the world, collective giving brings people together to pool their resources, including time, talent, treasure, testimony, and ties — often referred to as the 5 T’s. Groups like giving circles, SVP chapters, giving projects, and fundraising circles have long served as democratic and philanthropic learning hubs — bringing traditionally marginalized voices into philanthropic decision-making spaces, challenging preconceived notions of who is considered a philanthropist, and elevating members as integral actors in our sector’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in giving.
A new partnership between the Johnson Center and Philanthropy Together aims to find and survey collective giving groups in the United States to better understand the impact of giving circles across race, gender, and sexual orientation identities.
Together, we will explore the deep roots that collective giving has in communities of color and other marginalized communities and continue challenging the narrative around who is recognized as a philanthropist and what actions count as philanthropy.
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A Look Back: Collective Giving in 2016
The most recent landscape study of giving circles in the U.S. was produced in 2016. It found that there were 1,600+ active giving circles (GCs) with more than 150,000 people participating and that these numbers represented a three-fold increase from the prior study conducted a decade before.
FROM THE BLOG
How a Study on Giving Circles Led to the Launch of Philanthropy Together
Looking Forward: The Need for a New National Study
About the Study
There has been significant growth in the popularity of and infrastructure available to collective giving groups since 2016, including the creation of the Global Giving Circle Directory. The combination of the pandemic and mobilization against racism has also prompted significant shifts in how groups operate and what they fund.
New research presents an opportunity to more accurately capture the contours of this evolving movement and the potential of collective giving across the philanthropic ecosystem for advancing equity.
This research will be used to produce an updated national landscape study of giving circles across the United States and document the diversity of the giving circle movement. It will also help to:
- Develop a typology of giving circles and other forms of collective giving
- Deepen our understanding of the giving circle life cycles
- Identify how host organizations can more effectively support and encourage collective giving
The 2023 U.S. Collective Giving Research Initiative is made possible with the generous support of:
with input from networks of collective giving groups across the country:
About the Researchers
Michael D. Layton, Ph.D.
Michael Layton holds the W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair — the nation’s first endowed chair focused on community philanthropy — at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. As a researcher, teacher, director, advocate, and consultant, he has worked closely with a mix of community philanthropy organizations throughout the Americas and brings to his position a nuanced understanding of the unique challenges and capacities of community philanthropy to act as a catalyst in promoting community-led development and in strengthening the local context for philanthropy. Dr. Layton has taught at both Wesleyan and Yale Universities, and also founded and directed the Philanthropy and Civil Society Project at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) in Mexico City, where he developed a groundbreaking research and advocacy program to understand and strengthen philanthropy and civil society. Michael is currently working with Philanthropy Together on a national landscape of giving circles to improve practice and enhance DEI in national reports of philanthropy. Learn More.
Adriana Loson-Ceballos, Ph.D.
Adriana Loson-Ceballos is a co-founder of Colmena-Consulting, an all-woman & majority Black & Latina worker-owned cooperative of consultants, coaches, & change-makers working toward collective liberation by co-creating culture & practices that advance justice & holistic well-being in the philanthropic & nonprofit sectors. Adriana offers her services to clients as an evaluator or critical researcher. She is currently evaluating the LatinXCEL Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and recently closed out a multi-year evaluation for the Latino Community Foundation’s Latino Giving Circle Network. Dr. Loson-Ceballos is currently working with Philanthropy Together and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy on a national landscape of giving circles to improve practice and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in national reports of philanthropy. She designs evaluations and research that are participatory and rooted in critical theories, by bringing the “nothing about us without us” commitment from disability justice scholars to center community voices often ignored when determining the successes or challenges in collective action efforts. Learn More.