Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Content starts here

Time Needed: One or More Days

Skills Needed: No special skills required

Causes: Community

Project Categories: Family Friendly, Volunteering from Home, Geared for 50+ Volunteers

Created By:

Create the Good®

Giving circles are a form of “collective giving” where groups of people pool their individual charitable contributions to create a much larger gift, potentially making a greater impact. Groups are organized for many reasons and contribute to a broad range of charitable causes. With members, financial commitment, and a worthy nonprofit organization, creating a giving circle can be a relatively easy way to make a difference for causes and communities that matter to you.


The Problem

Nonprofit organizations often face challenges in fundraising. Without adequate funding, providing services is difficult. In addition, small organizations may have limited marketing budgets or trouble breaking into established donor networks, making it tough to gain the visibility and awareness they need to tap new revenue sources. Additionally, some people want to give, but don’t believe they can make a difference with a small donation and don’t always know what organizations they can support to address the causes they care about.

The Solution

Giving circles solve a variety of challenges faced by nonprofits. These collective giving efforts are open to all, with people from different backgrounds and professions joining together to become change agents. Giving circle members help fund nonprofit organizations, but they can also choose to volunteer directly with the organization. At the same time, members meet new people and may even form friendships as they bolster community resources.

Time Commitment

The time commitment will vary depending on the level of participation. General members may participate for just a few hours per year to attend quarterly meetings or for as many as 25 hours per month in a leadership role.  Responsibilities for members who take on a larger role could include running monthly meetings, vetting potential causes to support, and organizing community activities.

Who Can Do This?

This volunteer activity can be done by anyone who has the passion, ability to donate, and commitment to make a difference.

Great Reasons to Do the Project

Historically, giving circles started as groups of women grounded in traditions of local volunteerism and community investment. They saw the possibilities of making a difference while connecting with other women who shared those values. Today, the movement has expanded to include everyone who wishes to participate.

Giving circles can be small and informal – a neighborhood group or book club, for instance – with a few people pooling their money and giving it to a chosen charity, or they can be highly organized and involve contributions of thousands of dollars from hundreds of members and demonstrate a commitment over many years.

Giving circles empower people to come together and make a real difference, by enabling them to:

  • Amplify their donation’s impact through pooled resources and knowledge
  • Connect with like-minded people and build their networks
  • Directly help their communities and under-supported organizations
  • Develop leadership skills and build lasting community

In short, anyone can become a change agent in their community with a small contribution of time and money.


The first step to getting involved is to decide whether you wish to join an existing group or develop a giving circle of your own. The Grapevine Giving Circle platform hosts more than 800 giving circles that give largely to local communities. They are easy to join through the online website . You may also find that there are other giving circle options in your community or through the Global Giving Circle Directory that’s available on websites like Philanthropy Together.

If you decide to establish your own giving circle, getting started requires three primary steps:

  1. Determine the focus for your group (e.g. who will be invited and to which causes will you give).
  2. Decide on a structure for receiving, disbursing, and managing donations. (The Grapevine Giving Circle platform is an easy way to do this.)
  3. Invite members.

Since most giving circles are democratically arranged — nonprofits are nominated by members, and funding decisions are made by a majority vote — they provide donors with an equal voice in deciding where their contributions go. Think about the causes that stir your passion and that create measurable positive change and share them with fellow group members and organizers. You may start simply with a single charity or designate an area of focus or category—for example, faith-based charities, nonprofits that tutor students, or causes that benefit older adults living in poverty.

While smaller giving circles tend to find worthy causes through their members, larger groups may engage experts to help them find and vet organizations. You may also turn to some of the following resources to help you learn more about organizations you can support:

Charity Navigator also offers a list of questions to ask charities before donating.

Identify members

Think creatively about your various networks: giving circles can be organized for alumni groups, company employees, neighbor groups, houses of worship, or like-minded people who care about a specific cause.

Select a group of your friends, co-workers, neighbors, or family members who may share a common interest and explain the concept of a giving circle. Then, invite them to attend a first meeting (in-person or virtual) to see if they would like to participate.

Define group structure

The group may be as informal or organized as members wish, but it’s important that each member has an equal voice. And since social connections are an important part of the giving circle experience, build in time for socializing, too. For example, some giving circles meet for meals, lectures, or even yoga classes. Giving circles are a fun way to meet new people as well as spend meaningful time with old friends. Let your group’s preferences be your guide!

Depending on your group’s goals and plans, members may need to volunteer for or be assigned to various tasks, such as vetting potential charities, organizing social events, tracking and disbursing donations, etc.

As you organize your giving circle, consider:

  • Causes and charities the circle would like to support
  • Financial and time commitments everyone is willing to make
  • Meeting guidelines and schedule
  • Group roles (leader, record-keeper, event organizer, liaison with charity, treasurer, etc.)
  • Naming the giving circle


Manage the money

Most giving circles operate according to a specific grant cycle cadence. They may make donations monthly, quarterly, or annually. Setting member and donation milestones for each cycle can be a great way to motivate members and increase impact.

Platforms like Grapevine make it easy for members to make digital donations and receive charitable tax receipts, and for those donations to be turned into grant disbursements. If you do choose to manage the money on your own, using a bank account, be sure to have a system of checks and balances to ensure that the money is deposited and disbursed properly. If handling the donations on your own, you may wish to consult a tax advisor to ensure that you comply with any tax or other requirements for managing charitable funds.

Launch your project

Once you have a pool of money and a chosen charity, you can identify a date to make your donation. Consider creating a bit of fanfare around this event to get members excited. You may host a gifting event with the charity where you present an over-sized Ed McMahon style check, for example. (Take lots of photos!)

Once you’ve given your first gift, it’s time to get started on the next one. Invite group members to identify new grant opportunities and keep them apprised of any decisions that need to be made. And, of course, share your successful effort to raise awareness of your giving circle and invite others to join.

Evaluate outcomes

Set milestones for your short-term and long-term goals on a regular basis. It is motivating to see exactly how your contributions can make a difference – in your community at large, and in the lives of individuals. The Grapevine Giving Circle platform also has many free resources to help you get your giving circle started. Work with the recipient organization to regularly report on their progress, how the donation was used, and the overall impact your giving circle’s donation made.

Stay inspired and inspire others. Visit to see what others are doing and take a moment to post and share your own group’s success.


Grapevine Giving Circle Platform is a platform specifically for joining, creating and managing giving circles. The site serves more than 55,000 members and 2,500+ charities. Grapevine helps like-minded people gather, connect, and give back with intention.

AARP Create The Good® encourages everyone to make a difference in the lives of others. Find other ways to help in your community at

CharityWatch (formerly the American Institute of Philanthropy) is a nonprofit charity watchdog and information service that provides donors with the information they need to make more informed giving decisions.

Stanford Social Innovation Review is a podcast that shares how giving circles have grown to create $1.3 billion in economic impact for charities. 

A Giving Circle Case Study

Project W

Three women in Delaware County, Pennsylvania decided they wanted to spend more time making positive change in their community. From their early conversations about how to do so emerged Project W, a giving circle focused on helping struggling women and families in their area. They spread the idea of “women helping women,” and launched their giving circle in February 2019 on the Grapevine Giving Circle platform. Within 10 months, the initiative had 64 members and awarded $35,000 in grants to local area nonprofits. Since then, Project W has awarded more than $270,000 to Delaware County organizations that support women.

Brought to you by AARP Create The Good® Small actions. Big results. Find ways to help in your community at 

Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.