In a sluggish economy, a lot of folks are cutting back on charitable giving (and discretionary spending). Even the US Government is cutting back on how and where it spends its dollars, with small nonprofits feeling it the worst. Most congregations can’t afford to help, either. According to William Tenny, “the average [congregation] in the United States will spend as much as 64% of its budget on staff salaries. Additionally, it will spend as much as 30% of its offerings on maintaining its buildings.” Other researchers have suggested that a local congregation will be forced to spend 82% to 96% of its financial resources on maintaining the organization itself.
But as we often do, people have risen to the occasion to create solutions. One idea that has caught steam over the past four years is called “giving circles.”
Giving circles bring people together to pool resources and then collectively decide how and to which organizations or causes to distribute those resources—maximizing the financial, intellectual and emotional bang for every philanthropic buck. In the words of Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, a passionate Stanford GSB Philanthropy Lecturer, it’s “Giving 2.0.”
A perfect example is the Association of House Churches in Austin, TX. By pooling their resources and efforts over a 13-year period, this relatively small group of believers has “been able to deploy approximately $1,000,000 … toward benevolence and missions.”
In the spirit of cheerful and sacrificial giving, Emmaus CCF has created a giving circle on Causes.org. Specific "Causes" and "Actions" will be added as we go along. For now, participants in the Emmaus community are encouraged to be part of this ongoing investment in the Kingdom of God and the needs around us by simply clicking the "Join" button. Using the Causes.org platform, we will pool our resources to make a financial impact in Cleveland and beyond.