Giving-circle giving nears $100 million

Giving circles are fast becoming a big source of philanthropic dollars, with a subset of the nation’s circles raising almost $100 million over the last four years, a new study says.

The number of giving circles in the U.S. has doubled to at least 400 over the last two years, says the report by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

As part of the study, the group conducted a survey of 160 giving circles across the country that together gave $13 million for community needs in 2006 alone.

Almost 12,000 people are members of those circles, the study says, with almost half the circles containing male members and a growing number including people of color and gay and lesbian people.

Circles also appear to be fairly stable, with almost one in three of the groups having completed five or more rounds of grantmaking.

Variety is a hallmark of giving circles, the report says, with membership ranging from as few as four to several hundred and individuals donations ranging from a few dollars to thousands.

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