Giving societies and giving circles sound quite exclusive but that’s not exactly the case. While the two operate differently, they’re great ways for your organization to segment your donors.
Here’s how they’re different:
Giving societies are internal communities and ways that your organization can group donors by behavior type within a certain giving level. Giving societies typically offer sponsorship levels for individual donors and offer some form of reward. For example, if you give at the Bronze Sponsor Level, you’ll be guaranteed a table at an annual event, VIP opportunities, and access to quarterly campaigns.
Giving societies can be set based on annual and monthly recurring gifts, and a one-time donation of a certain amount. The parameters that you set for your organization’s giving society is entirely up to you!
Organizations usually have multiple societies within. For example, Duke offers multiple societies, membership options, and patron packages.
Crossnore School and Children’s Home frames their giving society as an “exclusive group of supporters” who contribute $1,000 or more each year. We took a closer look at Crossnore’s fundraising initiatives in 2020 and learned that it’s important to work with what you’ve got and to keep going.
Externally it’s a way for donors to see themselves and their relationship to your organization. Internally, giving societies are a great way to sort your donors. With this internal sorting comes an opportunity to build segmented communications to smaller groups of people. These segmented communications not only have a personal touch, but they also offer a place for your supporters to come together who have made similar financial commitments.
Giving circles are more informal and open to a variety of giving levels (though most come with a minimum) and are used as more of an engagement tool to get people to enroll in recurring giving. Some giving circles are managed by an organization and others are run almost like a book club! A group of friends and neighbors come together, pool their money, and decide which charity they’d like to give to. It’s a great way to give your money your voice in your community.
Giving circles give donors the option of who and how they want to connect with your organization. In a more formal setting, supporters can join a giving circle for networking purposes, or to connect with others who have a common interest. Large cities might offer donors to join a giving circle connected to their neighborhood, or they can join through one related to their professions.
For example, UJA Federation of New York offers supporters to join a giving circle based on their borough, profession, interest, or identity.
A study from Collective Giving shows that the majority of people in giving circles are women under the age of 40. It also shows that people who belong to multiple giving circles give more than the typical donor.