Giving circles: Philanthropy, voluntary association, and democracy

Giving circles: Philanthropy, voluntary association, and democracy

Author: Angela Eikenberry

Website:

Date of Publication: 2009

Publisher: Indiana University Press

Publisher Synopsis

In the contemporary United States, third parties are being relied upon to deliver social services that were once chiefly the responsibility of government. Among the new philanthropic associations that have arisen in this environment are voluntary groups known as giving circles. Their purpose is to bring people together to pool resources and then collectively decide how to distribute them. Giving circles have been seen as the most democratic of philanthropic mechanisms, working to meet social needs and solve community problems, while enhancing the civic education and participation of their members. Angela M. Eikenberry examines this new phenomenon and considers what role voluntary associations and philanthropy can or should play in a democratic society.

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CGAP Review

In Giving Circles: Philanthropy, Voluntary Association, and Democracy, Angela M. Eikenberry examines giving circles, or groups of people who pool money or other resources and make decisions about how to distribute these resources to beneficiaries. Based on 30 interviews of members active in giving circles, 18 interviews of professionals from 17 nonprofit organizations who had received funds from giving circles, and case studies, websites, and documents, Eikenberry describes three ideal types of giving circles – small groups, loose networks, and formal organizations – based on their practices and degree of formal organization. She also details the benefits of participating in these collectivities, which is often members’ first foray into philanthropy. This book should appeal to both those interested in starting giving circles and those who seek funding from these sources, as well as academics interested in collective action and philanthropy.
– Katherine K. Chen (an extended, forthcoming review will appear in NVSQ)

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