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Asian American Giving Circles

January 8, 2009

The article by Andrew T. Ho, “Asian American Giving Circles: Building Bridges Between Philanthropy and Our Communities,” provides an excellent review of Asian American giving circles in the United States. The article provides an insight of how existing Asian American giving circles were formed in the United States, their respective characteristics, challenges they face as well as the tactics they employ to overcome those challenges.

By definition, giving circles have three basic components. Giving circles are (a) comprised of a group of individuals (b) gather a pool of funds and (c) exercise group decisions of how and to whom funds will be disseminated.

I was surprised to know that of the estimated 800 giving circles nationwide, 11 are Asian American giving circles. Even though this represents a very small percentage (approximately 2%) , it is heartening to know that the growth and involvement of Asian American communities in philanthropy has grown ever since the pioneering work of the Asian Giving Circle of Chicago and the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy giving circle.

An interesting fact of the Asian American giving circles is that the members are mostly young, female and educated (probably second generation Asians). This raises an interesting issue of what can be done to make other age groups and men become more involved in Asian American Philanthropy. Ho’s article sheds light on the changes that have evolved in philanthropy giving by Asian American in the last decade. Asian American giving circles are now increasingly providing grants of different amounts towards various projects including social service, women’s rights, education, immigration, and helping the elderly and poverty stricken populations. The idea that aid is provided by members of one’s own community is certainly valued by its recipients.

Ho’s article also discusses some of the problems that giving circles may encounter. For example, a host organization though helpful in establishing credibility for the new giving circle may or may not prioritize the needs of a giving circle or exert control over the giving circles involvements. Some other challenges include overcoming the lack of active volunteers, leadership transition, and recruitment.

I believe that it is vital to start dialogue about starting a South Asian American Giving Circle as a means of connecting and participating in philanthropy with other South Asians. The rising importance of South Asians in the global economy will raise questions about philanthropy participation of Asian Americans. And it is high time we start educating ourselves about philanthropy giving!

Please check out the Asian American Giving Blog as well.

What are your thoughts?

– P

5 Comments leave one →
  1. asridhar permalink*
    January 8, 2009 1:04 pm

    Great post, Priyanka! We’re glad to have your contributions! I think starting a South Asian giving circle is a great idea, and something that SAPP could facilitate if there are readers who are interested…

  2. January 8, 2009 7:04 pm

    Hi Priyanka – why don’t you drop me an email? Where are you based? Uncanny timing with your post. A friend of mine and I are in the process of starting a South Asian giving circle here in the Bay Area – and AAPIP is supporting us and co-funding us! Would love to talk to you more about it (and get your involved!).


  3. January 9, 2009 1:21 pm

    Hi Swati – this is great! We are based in the midwest and of now I haven’t heard of any south asian giving circles here. What you and your friend are doing is very commendable. Please tell us how others can become involved.

    – P


  1. AFP Blog notes SAPP « The South Asian Philanthropy Project
  2. Apply for This!: Asian Women Giving Circle grants « The South Asian Philanthropy Project

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