Giving circles are made up of individuals who pool their resources and then decide together where these should be distributed. They also include social, educational, and engagement components that seem to engage participants in their communities and increase members’ understanding of philanthropy and community issues. This study examines if and how participation in a giving circle has changed members’ behavior related to giving, volunteering, and civic engagement. In addition, we asked if and how participation in a giving circle has changed members' awareness of or knowledge about philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, and community issues. Finally, we wanted to know if and how participation in a giving circle has changed members’ perceptions of or attitudes about philanthropy; community issues; citizen, government, and nonprofit roles and responsibilities; or
political and social values.
To address these areas, data were gathered through a survey of 341 current and past members of 26 giving circles of various types, sizes, and identity groups across the U.S., as well as a control group of 246 donors and public service graduate students and practitioners; semi-structured interviews with 30 giving circle members and past members from 11 giving circles; and participant observationin four giving circles.