Below are some tips for finding or starting a
Review Giving Circles in Your Area and Decide if you want to:
- Join Another Circle
- Create a Chapter of an
Existing National Circle Network
- Create Your Own Circle
You can check out a few exemplary
Giving Circles throughout the U.S., noting that nine of these circles are on
our Giving Circles Advisory Panel, and
information on all of these can be found by conducting simple searches in the
internet. You can also view:
Giving Circles and
or Virtual Circles.
If you would like to add to our list, please
Discover Issues in Your
There are many different ways to discover the issues in your
community of interest, be it local, regional or even a community
overseas. Here are some different ways you can discover
l Determine Your Circle's
Cause(s) and/or Issue(s).
In developing a Circle or determining if you
might prefer to join an existing one, it will assist you and your friends or
colleagues to explore and determine causes and issues of interest.
You can explore
global and nationwide needs,
causes and issues or review a quick list of issues below that may interest your Circle
- Accessibility Issues (including for
Persons with Disabilities)
- Aging & Senior Citizens
- Arts, whether for community
expression, social change, mental therapy or other purposes.
development issues in your Circle's area;
- Disaster Relief & Emergency Preparedness;
- Education (community in
general, women and girls, youth, minorities, low-income
- Employment and Equal Opportunity;
- Environmental and sustainability issues,
including environmental protection, conservation, climate change
and global warming, and natural disaster (protection against or
- Health issues such as
HIV/AIDS, cancer, mental health, etc.
- Housing Affordability, Access and
- Human/social rights issues
- Poverty & Welfare;
- Refugee & the Diaspora;
- Other Global Issues that have
local impact such as global peace, trade and geo-political issues.
help to limit the number of causes or issues only because it
will simplify and help focus (at least initially) your Circle's
efforts, programs and services. Some Giving Circles focus
on one issue per year and rotate issues. Other Circle's focus on one
or more primary issues and consistently fund those issues to achieve greater
Circle's Vision and Strategic/Action Plan:
- Vision: Now that your Circle
has identified its
issues or causes
and before it articulates its mission statement, it will help to determine
what is your Circle's vision of community. This vision
can be your Circle's ideals or principles. The Alliance for
Nonrofit Management states that a vision statement is a "guiding image of
success formed in terms of a contribution to society". Read more on
how to articulate a
Statement: Your Circle's mission should be motivating
and state what it seeks to do and how it might do that.
The mission should include your Circle's purpose, business (how
it intends to accomplish its purpose), and values (i.e.,
what guides your Circle's members).
effective way that your Giving Circle can ensure that it achieves its
intended impact is to develop a strategy statement with goals and
objectives. The strategy should include:
1) Goals (a minimum of
two or three); and
2) Objectives - for each goal, there
should be at least two objectives. Try not to duplicate any action verbs from
the goals in the objectives, which will encourage your members
to get more specific with your objectives.
- Action Plan: Your Circle's
Action Plan will help your Circle measure its success and determine whether it is
having the impact that it seeks to have. For each objective,
your Giving Circle can select a target, measure and deadline that will serve as the
determining factor as to whether the objective can be considered
accomplished or not.
- Objective: Help the homeless
- Target: Feed homeless people
- Measure: Feed 10
people monthly and 120 people annually
The value in this
approach is that your Circle can revisit its goals monthly, quarterly and
annually before too much funding has been disbursed, help your Circle stay
on track or, if it is off track, you may be able to spot problems and
correct them more quickly. Most importantly, you will accurately know
that your Circle did in fact accomplish its objectives.
Each Giving Circle must be precise and clear about their targets and measurements.
This general approach gives the Circle a starting plan to which it can
return to assess the impact of their organization. This concept, now
commonplace in the private sector, is spilling over into the non-profit
arena as well, since astute donors, government
agencies, and boards of directors look to ensure the performance of non
profits. Even if your Giving Circle does not take the formal route
of becoming a 501(c)(3), it can still benefit from a strategy and action plan.
For more information, see Impact Tools &
n Determine the Level of
Formality: Tax Exempt Donations or Not?
Do you want to enable your donors to have
tax-exempt donations? Visit the
Key to Money to determine what format your
Giving Circle should set up.
oSet Up Your Organization
This includes selecting your Board of Directors,
writing your Circle's bylaws, and preparing some basic organizational procedures..
- Bylaws -
GCN Advisory Panel recommends that
starting point for any Giving Circle is putting together a set of bylaws
limited to the basic and necessary information required by Federal and State
law. A good
example is the one prepared by the
Giving Circle of Hope in
Reston, VA; you can download them at their site - lower left
- The Center for Non Profit Management offers a very helpful
starting your non-profit.
- FirstGov for
Non Profits "...is designed as a central starting point to help
nonprofit organizations access online federal information and services. It
is linked to all cabinet departments and many agencies. It contains
information about grants, regulations, taxes, and other services as well as
information on a wide range of other topics and programs."
Govern & Grow
Learn more about:
Governance and Growing your Membership
Fundraising and Grantmaking