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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Philanthropy tends to center on a small number of affluent donors, but a grassroots movement known as "giving circles" — in which more modest donors pool their resources — has been gaining popularity.

The big picture: Giving circles are still a drop in the philanthropic bucket, but proponents say they open the field to younger and more diverse donors — and broaden the reach of giving.

  • Members decide by vote or consensus which organizations to fund.
  • "This is activism in the world of philanthropy ... and an antidote to other concerns," Dianne Chipps Bailey, a philanthropic strategy executive for Bank of America, tells Axios.

Giving circles are growing: More than 1,000 such groups existed in the U.S. in 2016, compared with 400 in 2006, per a Women's Philanthropy Institute database.

  • The model resonates with women: Of those groups, about 70% said more than half their members were women.
  • Giving circles tend to be hyper-local and to come together around shared identity. (Examples include Asian Women Giving Circle in New York, and Amplifier, a network of circles focused on Jewish values.)

Black Benefactors, a 12-year-old giving circle in Washington, D.C., donates to Black-led nonprofits — which tend to be overlooked by the broader philanthropic community.

  • 40 members donate at least $300 a year; so far, $70K has been given away.
  • Grants focus on organizations that support local children, youth and families — like $10K in 2019 to a group that sends middle-school girls of color on trips abroad, and $10K to one that funds math and science enrichment programs.
  • Donations are getting larger. “I see more people putting value on Black-led nonprofits through this work," Tracey Webb, the founder of Black Benefactors, tells Axios.

Yes, but: "The fact of the matter is, it is still donor-driven" rather than government funded, Angela Eikenberry, a professor of public administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says of giving circles.

  • The model "still has the limitation of relying on philanthropy to make sure people have basic human rights."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

4 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. chargés d'affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy's ability to assist Americans.