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Collective giving is rapidly growing, grassroots, philanthropic movement that empowers people to join together, invest their financial resources, and strengthen their communities or causes.

Led by rise of women’s giving circles, collective giving has tripled in size in the United States in the past two decades.

Community-based collective giving organizations provide a structured platform for members to participate in collaborative and democratic philanthropy.  Often these groups are women-centric and have similar goals and shared desires for enriching their communities.  Some focus on specific giving areas; others give in a broad variety of categories.  Most share the following elements:

      • Members pool money to make larger grants for greater impact
      • Formalized, member-driven grants review and assessment procedures
      • Democratic process, including member votes, to select their recipients
      • Large-scale, transformative granting
      • Educational opportunities to foster informed philanthropy
      • Leadership opportunities for women in nonprofit community engagement
      • Voluntary governance and operating boards
      • Depth of involvement beyond donation is entirely personal


The Philanos network is made up of affiliates built primarily on three models: 

      • Women’s collective giving grantmaking model pioneered by Washington Women’s Foundation in Seattle, WA—a collective giving organization founded by Colleen Willoughby and others in 1995. 
      • Impact 100 model pioneered by Wendy Steele and Impact 100 Cincinnati in 2001, which focuses on high impact ($100,000) grants to transform communities.
      • Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, a Baltimore-focused, women only organization founded by Pam Corckran and Shelley Goldseker in 2001, that patterned its governance on Sondra Shaw-Hardy’s handbook, Creating a Women’s Giving Circle.


Just as a pebble dropped in water forms a series of concentric circles, spreading outwardly, collective giving organizations create ripple effects by expanding the impact of philanthropy.  Their members are inspired to: 

      • Make more contributions, on average, than donors who do not give collectively
      • Give strategically, based on solid research and active engagement
      • Make multi-year gifts
      • Contribute to a larger number of nonprofit organizations
      • Become more active and informed funders
      • Serve as leaders, volunteers, and advocates for nonprofits in their communities

Collective giving organizations strengthen communities in numerous ways, especially by creating new, enduring, and local sources of funding for the common good. These organizations have developed reputations for vigorous vetting processes resulting in strategic, impactful grantmaking.  This intentional philanthropy often provides informal seals of approval that stimulate additional funding sources for the grantees. 

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© 2014-2023 Philanos is the leading national women's giving circle network.  All rights reserved.
Philanos is a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax ID #46-3953482

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