1Giving CirclesandDemocratizingPhilanthropyAngela M. EikenberrySchool of Public AdministrationUniversity of Nebraska at Omaha
2Social contributions of philanthropy• Enables donors to use private funds to createsocial and political change,• Locates and supports social innovations,• Meets the psychic and social needs ofdonors, and• Affirms democratic pluralism as a civic value.
3Philanthropy’s shortcomings• Largely non-redistributive and inadequate,• Fragmented and short-term in focus,• Maintains elite control; wealthiest have largersay in social policy, and• Creates “us vs. them” ethic among citizens.
4Counter Democratization Trends• Modernization of Philanthropy– Professionalization & subordination of volunteer– Rationalization & bureaucratization lead to reducedopportunities for direct participation• Marketization of Philanthropy– Emphasize individual over collective– De-politicize social change– Focus on symptoms rather than root causes– Donors become consumers
6QuestionsDo giving circles:1. Provide opportunities for democratic participation?• More/diverse people• Giving more, in more engaged way• Meaningful participation2. Expand who benefits from philanthropy?• Redistribute resources• Address problems adequately
7Giving Circles in the U.S.1. Donors pool and giveaway resources2. Donors decide where theresources are given3. Independent from anyparticular charity, typically4. Educate and engagemembers5. Social/networking
8Over 600 identified across the U.S. and in many othercountries.
9chairsmembers members memberscommitteesSmallGroupFormalOrganizationLooseNetworkTypes of Giving Circles in the U.S.
10QuestionsDo giving circles:1. Provide opportunities for democraticparticipation?• More/diverse people• Giving more, in more engaged way• Meaningful participation2. Expand who benefits from philanthropy?• Redistribute resources• Address problems adequately
11Opportunities for democratic participationMembership– Diverse professional backgrounds, includingnonprofit professionals– Experienced and “new” to philanthropy– Diverse wealth-levels– Diverse racial/ethnic/identity backgrounds• African American, Asian, Latino, etc.• 53% women-only circles• “Next generation” circles– Homogenous within groups
12Opportunities for democratic participationGiving• Members give more– especially if in more than one GCTotal Annual GivingGC Members in Multiple GCs $13,400GC Members in One GC $6,834Control Group $4,945
13Opportunities for democratic participationGiving• Members give to more organizations
14Opportunities for democratic participationGiving• More strategicI understandmore of wheremy money’sgoing and whatit’s doing for thatorganization.
15Opportunities for democratic participationMeaningful participation:• Opportunities for agenda setting, decision-making & face-to-face discourse.• Build capacities of members:– Education about issues/philanthropy– Skills as philanthropists/grant makers– Leadership, administrative opportunities– Empowerment (esp. for women, loose networks)
17QuestionsDo giving circles:1. Provide opportunities for democratic participation?• More/diverse people• Giving more, in more engaged way• Meaningful participation2. Expand who benefits from philanthropy?• Redistribute resources• Address problems adequately
18Expand who benefitsFunding Recipients:• Smaller, grassroots, local organizations• High-risk & entrepreneurial, well-run with strongleadership, or mixed portfolio• Individuals in need or doing good works
21Conclusions• Internal democracy vs. Democratic outcomes– Small groups• Equal participation– Loose networks• Empowering/non-bureaucratic and build personalidentification– Formal organizations• Most systematic about identifying needs in the community,educating members, finding funding opportunities, andenabling members to engage with funding recipients
22Conclusions• GCs:– Provide opportunities for democratic participation• To some degree address:– Expanding who benefits from philanthropy– Short-term & fragmented focus– Elite decision-making– “Us vs. them” ethic• Adequacy in addressing needs questionable