Giving Back Through Giving Circles

Simple, personalized charity groups with the power to make big changes

A few years ago, a group of urban residents found themselves in a faltering city. Crime, unemployment, failing schools and vacant lots had turned Cleveland into a place thousands of people decided was best seen through the rearview mirror. But rather than ditch their hometown, these friends decided to make it better.

They formed a giving circle, one of 400 or more around the country that pool money and donate time to nurture neighborhoods and support local causes. Such circles generated nearly $100 million between 2002 and 2006, according to surveys by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Because many circles fly under the radar, the actual amount is probably far higher.

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Jane Bennett Clark
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
The late Jane Bennett Clark, who passed away in March 2017, covered all facets of retirement and wrote a bimonthly column that took a fresh, sometimes provocative look at ways to approach life after a career. She also oversaw the annual Kiplinger rankings for best values in public and private colleges and universities and spearheaded the annual "Best Cities" feature. Clark graduated from Northwestern University.