The Forum's report finds that the number of giving circles in existence has more than doubled in the last two years. There are now at least 400 giving circles nationwide -- at least one circle in nearly every state. To examine the growth of giving circles, the Forum surveyed a sampling of 160 circles across the country. Findings include:
Nearly 70 percent of giving circles have a host organization that receives members' contributions and disburses donations to the organizations selected by the circle to receive its support.
More than half of all hosted circles keep their money in a donor advised fund at their local community foundation.
Giving circles give a lot. In 2006 alone, giving circles surveyed donated $13 million for community needs.
Giving circle members number in the tens of thousands. Nearly 12,000 people participate in the 160 giving circles surveyed by the Forum.
Giving circles are diversifying. While once considered a women's philanthropy phenomenon, nearly half of circles now have male members. The popularity of giving circles is also growing among people of color and in the gay and lesbian community.
Giving circles have staying power. Nearly a third of circles surveyed have been through more than five rounds of grantmaking.
Regional associations of grantmakers, community foundations and private foundations, among other philanthropic organizations, are lending their support to giving circles by serving as hosts and advisors.