In the contemporary United States, third parties are being relied upon to deliver social services that were once chiefly the responsibility of government. Among the new philanthropic associations that have arisen in this environment are voluntary groups known as giving circles. Their purpose is to bring people together to pool resources and then collectively decide how to distribute them. Giving circles have been seen as the most democratic of philanthropic mechanisms, working to meet social needs and solve community problems, while enhancing the civic education and participation of their members. Angela M. Eikenberry examines this new phenomenon and considers what role voluntary associations and philanthropy can or should play in a democratic society.
Winner of CASE's 2010 John Grenzebach Award for Outstanding Research in Philanthropy for Educational Advancement.