Giving Circles

Simple and Powerful: Establishing a Giving Circle with The Ireland Funds

The concept is as simple as it is powerful. A Giving Circle is formed when individuals come together and pool their funds, decide together where to give the money (and perhaps volunteer time or expertise) and learn together about their community and philanthropy. No Giving Circle looks or acts exactly like another. Indeed, the opportunity to shape a group to meet the particular needs of a community and the particular interests and capabilities of donors remains one of the most appealing aspects of a Giving Circle.

The Basics

Giving Circles, overwhelmingly, happen the same way as any other endeavour: Someone has an idea and discusses it with friends; excitement builds, and a new group or “club” is created. Giving Circles range in scale from small and informal to large and complex. Most have consistent memberships and give money annually to one or multiple causes. Smaller Giving Circles, those with less than 25 members, are relatively informal and intimate groups that favour a flat structure in which all members share responsibility for the club’s direction, and make decisions collectively. Larger Giving Circles think of themselves differently, preferring terms like “Fund” or “Foundation”. These groups generally have many more than 25 members and are usually too large for efficient consensus-based decision making. They usually have a more formalised structure that includes a board and multiple committees. 

The Benefits

For the Community
A recent study by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grant-makers in the United States found that 140 Giving Circles have generated nearly $90 million, primarily in the last five years.  The Giving Circles surveyed support a range of causes including:
  • Arts, Culture and Humanities
  • Community Improvement and Capacity Building
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Disadvantage
  • Health & Nutrition
  • Mental Health & Crisis Intervention 
  • Science and Technology
  • Women and Girls
  • Youth Development
In addition to the donation that they make through their club, nearly seventy five percent (75%) of Giving Circle participants make additional personal contributions to non-profit organisations.  

For Donors
Donors who participate in Giving Circles value the personal benefits that the club affords to:
  • Participate in a network of individuals who share like interests and values 
  • Understand philanthropy as a vehicle for ch ange
  • Connect with communities and causes they care about4
  • Engage in strategic group decision making
  • Experience hands-on grant-making experience
  • Enjoy social networking    

For Charitable Organisations
Charitable organisations benefit when individual Donors form or join Giving Circles: 
  • Pooled funds invested towards a key issue can have a far greater impact than smaller, individual gifts. 
  • The group as a whole brings collective “know-how” to its volunteerism and philanthropic investment, (e.g. developing budgets, evaluation, providing technical support and contacts) 
  • New Donors are engaged for the first time in charitable giving through Giving Circles and existing Donors give more. This grows the philanthropic assets available to a community.

For more information on getting started, download our Guide to Setting Up a Giving Circle

Download PDF 

For advice in relation to tax planning, we recommend you consult a professional tax advisor to ensure you can maximise your generosity to The Ireland Funds.

The Ireland Funds is a registered charity in Ireland, charity number 10798.

For more information on making a lasting gift to The Ireland Funds please contact
Jordan Campbell
The Ireland Funds 
25 St Stephen's Green, Second Floor
Dublin 2. 
T – 353-1-662-7878 
F – 353-1-662-7879