Giving circles in the UK and Ireland
Breeze, Beth; Eikenberry, Angela (2014)

Professor Angela Eikenberry, School of Public Administration, University of Nebraska at Omaha (presenter) and Dr Beth Breeze Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent (co-author)


Giving circles represent an emerging trend across the world in which groups of individual donors collaborate to support individuals, charitable organizations, or projects of mutual interest. Members often conduct collective research on potential beneficiaries, and make joint or coordinated decisions about the use of resources. These groups also typically include a meaningful degree of social interaction over the use of resources and some mechanism for joint or coordinated decision-making in the allocation of these resources.

The purpose of this research is to examine the landscape of giving circles in the UK and Ireland by addressing the following research questions: What does the landscape of giving circles look like in the UK and Ireland? How does it compare to the U.S.? and What are the issues and implications for philanthropy? To address these questions, we draw on primary data from unobtrusive measures such as websites, news articles and documentation; around 30 interviews with members and staff of giving circles, and observations of giving circle events in the UK and Ireland; as well as secondary data from previous studies on giving circles in the U.S.

Our findings indicate a number of specific and quantifiable differences in the organization, practice and purpose of giving circles between the US and in the UK. For example, many UK circles take on forms or models that do not seem prevalent in the US, such as mentoring and Dragon’s Den style live crowd funding groups.


Angela Eikenberry is Associate Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her research interests focus on voluntary organizations and philanthropy and their role in democratic governance.  She was recently named the David C. Scott Diamond Alumni Professor of Public Affairs and awarded a 2014-2015 Fulbright Scholar Award to conduct research in the UK.

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