Giving circles are a team approach to philanthropy and charitable networking. They allow like-minded people to collaborate for a specific interest or cause. Every giving circle is unique in size, structure and focus, but they all enable donors to combine their resources and maximize their impact.
Giving circles offer members a chance to learn more about giving and specific community causes, while sharing expertise, networking, and making a difference. Giving circles often require a smaller monetary commitment to join than creating your own fund.
Established Giving Circles
The Women's Fund
The Women’s Fund of the Eastern Shore was created through the power of collective philanthropy. Members work together to help change the lives of local women and girls. Becoming a member of the Women’s Fund of the Eastern Shore gives you the satisfaction of making a difference in your community, and provides social and networking opportunities through this dynamic group. Learn more here.
Black Excellence Community Fund
The Black Excellence Community Fund works to preserve cultural awareness and pride by expanding the benefits of education, health, and welfare in African American communities, while teaching the values of philanthropy through education and financial literacy. Learn more here.
How to Start a Giving Circle
Step 1: Members Set Up a Giving Circle Fund
Create: Once the group has decided on a mission, goals, membership level(s), and an internal operating structure (Board & Grants committees), it will meet with Foundation staff to operationalize its grantmaking.
Fund Agreement: Two or more authorized members of the Giving Circle meet with Foundation staff and sign a fund agreement with the name, purpose, and composition of the Giving Circle. Two members become the Fund Advisors.
Initial Gift & Fund Balance: An initial gift and fund balance of $10,000 or more is needed to establish an endowed giving circle fund at the Foundation. An additional amount may be set aside for immediate grant making.
Fees: All giving circle funds, regardless of fund balance, are charged an annual administrative fee payable to the Foundation of 1% of the fund balance.
Online Access: Once the fund is established, fund advisors access fund information anytime through our online portal. Information about gifts and grants from the Fund are posted in real time; investment earnings/losses are posted quarterly.
Step 2: Make Gifts into the Giving Circle Fund
Members may make gifts in person or online of cash or publicly traded stocks. Written acknowledgements are sent by CFES for all donations. Real estate or closely held business interests may also be received. Contact Foundation staff to learn more.
Step 3: Recommend Grant Distributions from the Giving Circle Fund
Once gifts are received, fund advisors recommend grants based on giving circle's decisions. Grants are processed by the Foundation to tri-county charitable organizations. CFES takes care of verifying the organization’s charitable status and sending the check. Giving circles will have access to foundation staff who can help research community needs and specific nonprofits.
Step 4: Monitor & Evaluate the Impact of the Fund
The Foundation can help the Giving Circle assess the impact of its grantmaking and share grant reports with the Giving Circle Grants Committee.