Charity circles are like book clubs for philanthropy. You get together with a group of like-minded pals and channel your powers of donation into one superpowered Care Bear stare that has more impact than your piddling donations would on their own.
In her U.S. News & World Report Alpha Consumer blog, Kimberly Palmer highlights the raging trend, which has yielded as many as 800 active circles nationwide, doubling the number of circles there were in 2006.
Reason No. 1: You can do better research:
Many Hands Inc., a giving circle based in northwest Washington, DC, chooses its funding recipients based on phone interviews, site visits, and then a vote of all 100-plus members, explains board member Noni Lindahl. Over the last six years, the group has given away over $350,000 to local nonprofits that serve women and children. The money comes from each participant pledging $1,000 a year.
At the Northern Virginia-based Giving Circle of HOPE, members read books together to further educate themselves on poverty issues. After reading Three Cups of Tea, some of the members pooled their money to fund a teacher in a school in Pakistan for a year. “It’s all about education,” says the giving circle’s co-founder Linda Strup.
Check out the post for the other six. Well, OK, here’s one more: another reasons to join up is social benefit — how better to impress someone than showing how generous you are? And you’ll probably meet kinder, more generous people in charity circles than you would in Money Hoarder Hexagons.