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Ripple effects

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A growing trend in philanthropy, giving circles have funneled more than $44 million into communities since 2000, a new report says.

And that’s a conservative figure, representing only about one in 10 giving circles in the U.S., says the study by New Ventures in Philanthropy, a program of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

The group analyzed data from 77 circles, eight in 10 of which were formed since 2000, representing more than 5,300 donors, and found that almost six in 10 circles consist entirely or mainly of women, while only one consisted entirely of men.

While seven in 10 circles have a majority of white members, more than one in 10 circles describe themselves as racially and ethnically mixed, and one in 20 reports having all African American members.

Circles also represent a variety of age groups, including one consisting of eight five-year olds, as well as a broad range in resources pooled, with some circles asking members to give $1 a day, while others contribute $20,000 a year.

Circles target a variety of causes with their grantmaking, the study says, with two-thirds supporting youth development, almost three in 10 supporting women and girls, and one in four funding human services.

Three in four circles are connected to an institution, such as a community foundation, nonprofit or university, that hosts the group’s funds and sometimes provides administrative services, the report says.

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