Philanthropy can come in many different shapes and sizes, and a new form has been taking the United States and beyond by storm. This new form of philanthropy is known as collective giving, and it’s becoming more prominent every day, with groups tripling in numbers between 2007 and 2017 and distributing a total of $1.29 billion in that time. But what exactly is collective giving, and how is it affecting philanthropy?

Collective Giving has many names, sometimes being referred to as community-led shared gifting, other times as giving circles. These names are commonly used to describe when donors come together to pool resources and collectively decide on how they want to distribute funds. This allows people or groups with fewer resources to also participate in philanthropy and can help build a community. A lot of collective giving groups are created around an identity – including groups based on gender, race, age and religion and sizes can vary from fewer than 10 members to more than 1,000. According to Angela M. Eikenberry of the Collective Giving Research Group, collective giving often takes place in communities that are typically underrepresented in philanthropy. Groups such as the Community Investment Network and the National Giving Circle Network are two examples, with the former connecting African-American led giving circles across the country and the latter being led by Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

The great thing about collective giving is how it’s changing philanthropy. With new people stepping into the philanthropy spotlight due to collective giving, we’re gaining new and more diverse leaders in the industry. There are currently around 25 American giving circle networks which all represent diverse communities and backgrounds and that are helping in bringing together giving circles and are spurring the movement as well. Those networks all represent their own niche but share the common goal of increasing giving circle membership while also creating efficiency and magnifying the charitable impact they can provide. These giving circles are important regardless of how much money they manage to give away because of how they empower everyday givers and how they’ve managed to speed up meaningful change.

Collective Giving will likely continue to take the world by storm, as we see groups emerge in the UK and Australia among other countries. They will likely show up in more unique, radical forms over time as well, and that can be a good thing. These giving circles are coming together for a good cause, but most importantly they’re helping to form a community that strives to give back and make the world a better place.