Growing Philanthropy Through Giving Circles: Lessons Learned From Start-Up to Grantmaking

Created By: Tracey A. Rutnik and Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz

Downloads: 1039
Group 6
Pages: 31
Group 7
File Type: .pdf


"In 2000, the Baltimore Giving Project (BGP), an initiative to promote organized philanthropy that is housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, began cultivating the development of giving circles in Maryland. Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Director of the BGP, recognized that giving circles held the potential to bring many new faces to philanthropy, particularly women. BGP capitalized on existing resources and the expertise of many colleagues to develop a Giving Circle Toolkit and championed giving circles as a way to grow giving locally. Leadership to start two circles, the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle and the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County, emerged quickly. Those first two circles, profiled in this publication, were the start of a much larger trend in Maryland. 

This study and the circles on which we focus have benefited greatly from the practical approach to developing a giving circle outlined by Sondra Shaw-Hardy in her handbook, “Creating a Women’s Giving Circle,” which was published by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute ( In addition, we have drawn from the expertise of numerous colleagues, particularly Paul Shoemaker of Social Venture Partners (SVP), a national model for high-engagement philanthropy. SVP has diligently documented and shared the story of its phenomenal growth and impact; its resources are a must-read for anyone contemplating starting a giving circle. The inspiring efforts of our many New Ventures partners has also informed our work."


About Giving Circles
Partner Resources
Research on Giving Circles

Want to amplify the power of your giving? Join a giving circle – or start your own!

Are you ready to take your giving circle from idea to reality?

Our Jewish Giving Circle Incubator will help you bring your giving circle to life. Whether you're 23 or 73, interested in social justice or Jewish innovation, and ready to give $50 or $10,000, we want you to join the Incubator. Apply today!

Applications are open until July 31st.

Apply Now