1 in 8 American Donors has Participated in a Giving Circle
Nearly Half of all Giving Circle Participants are Under 40
One in eight American donors has participated in a giving circle – nearly half of them under the age of 40 – and participation in a giving circle can both strengthen communal identity and expand philanthropic reach. These are some of the findings of the newly issued report Connected to Give: Community Circles, which combines quantitative and qualitative data to bring new insight to the philanthropic phenomenon of giving circles. The report, co-authored by Evelyn Dean-Olmsted, Sarah Bunin Benor, and Jim Gerstein, and issued by Jumpstart, outlines the demographics of giving circle participation by age, gender, ethnicity, household income, family status, and more. Through interviews with participants in African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Jewish, LGBT, women’s, and Millennial-generation giving circles, this report examines how people explore and express their heritage and identity through collaborative giving.
“Giving circles teach us how, when philanthropic institutions don’t roll out the red carpet, people create their own ways in,” said Dr. Shawn Landres, CEO & Director of Research at Jumpstart, which has spearheaded Connected to Give. “Highly connected people become deeply committed givers, and it’s in giving circles that we see people creating philanthropic traditions that speak to their identity and community.”
With nationally representative quantitative research, Connected to Give: Community Circles documents just how widespread giving circle participation is in minority communities. The study uses data drawn from the National Study of American Jewish Giving and the National Study of American Religious Giving, painting a picture of strong participation in giving circles among Americans, and pronounced differences across race, ethnicity and gender. More than one in five African American donors (21%) have participated in giving circles, as have higher proportions of Asian/ Pacific Islander donors (16%), and Hispanic/Latino donors (15%). These are higher rates than among both Jewish donors (14%) and white non-Jewish donors (10%).
A particularly striking finding was the age of giving circle participants. Unlike other aspects of charitable giving, giving circle participation is much more strongly related to age than to income: nearly half of all participants are under 40.
Complementing the surveys, a team of researchers conducted comparative ethnographic fieldwork with twenty adult giving collectives associated with an array of ethnic and affinity groups, including African American, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Jewish, LGBT, women’s, and Millennial-generation giving circles. “Based on our interviews and observations, we noticed a ‘virtuous circle’ effect,” said research team leader and report co-author Dr. Sarah Bunin Benor. “Giving circles connect people to like-minded individuals and lead to more meaningful, intentional, and hands-on charitable giving, as well as increased communal engagement.”
Connected to Give: Community Circles is the fifth in a series of reports based upon the wealth of data drawn from the National Study of American Religious Giving and the National Study of American Jewish Giving.
The complete report is available for download here.