I was just working with the Mission Increase Foundation team to adjust our training schedule to add a workshop/lab sequence at the end of 2010, should the Lord tarry, on Giving Circles.
Giving Circles are the exponentially growing phenomenon in which groups of folks get together to pull their money and their experience in order to make more impactful gifts to charity.
This has the scent of a Transformational Giving movement in that it’s champion-led. But I think I think Giving Circles are traditional/transactional fundraising’s (ttf’s) John the Baptist moment.
In Matthew 11:11, Jesus says:
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
I think I think Giving Circles is ttf grasping at TG. They certainly point the way, what with donors (and I’m using that word on purpose here) being proactive rather than reactive, but they’re built on the ttf foundation of nonprofits serving as actors and individuals serving as supporters.
The fact that Giving Circles group people together and give them information and enable them to establish goals and evaluative mechanisms does make them more effective donors.
But at the end of the day, they’re still donors, albeit more effective ones.
Allison Fine posits a future direction for Giving Circles that I would say has a nice TG cast to it in a post she (fittingly) entitles ‘A New Relationship With Donors’:
Giving circles are generally oganized by friends to give to a variety of causes, leaving the cause in the passive position of hoping to be supported. What if causes organized giving circles to support their cause — and other causes. I know, really scary to think about organizing your own donors to possible give to other organizations, but, hey, that’s what people do. What if you took all of your donors in one zip code, regardless of how much they gave and helped them to organize a get together at someone’s house to talk about the cause. Maybe they don’t even talk about giving the first time they meet. Maybe they just to talk about the cause, what it means, what it does, how it could do better, etc. They could come back onto your Facebook page or on Twitter and share what they learned, what they thought and dreamed for the cause. And then the second meeting they begin to talk about giving to the cause.
In TG, of course, we would contend that the champion should not only be equipped to dream about the cause, learn about the cause, and give to the cause but also to do the cause. In TG, I think I think Giving Circles will be reconceived as Discipleship Circles, where champions coach each other, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, toward comprehensive maturity in Christ in relation to the cause.
Interestingly, there’s another name for that kind of modified Giving Circle:
What church is today is rather far off from that mark, of course. But as we talked about earlier this week, what is TG itself if not a church renewal movement?