Imagine this: your company has just signed a check for $30,985 and sent it off to a Black-led nonprofit committed to developing and mobilizing grassroots leaders. Your employees are super engaged, having worked together to raise those funds, shared their personal stories and values, and connected in a way that your Thursday evening happy hour has never quite accomplished.
Everyone is glowing — your team is excited, electrified — and you’re already looking forward to pooling and raising money for another impactful organization.
And it all happened in 90 minutes.
This is exactly how Google’s pop-up giving circle event played out: with help from Philanthropy Together, Google employees gathered virtually to discuss their values as individuals and as members of their respective communities. They heard from a guest speaker and expert on gun violence and decarceration, took part in breakout room conversations to discuss the topic, and pitched their efforts together to raise more than thirty thousand dollars for Faith in New Jersey — in an hour and a half.
Pop-up giving circles are a unique way for companies, organizations, and individuals to capture their own giving spirits: in this small-scale, instant-impact version of a giving circle, coworkers, colleagues, family members, and friends can gather together and immediately make a difference for an organization in their community — all in less time than it takes for your weekly grocery run.
What is a pop-up giving circle?
A pop-up giving circle is exactly what it sounds like: a short-term, all-hands-on-deck version of a giving circle grant cycle, in which a group of people come together to pool their funds, communicate their values and community interests, and decide on a grantee organization — all in the same event!
A pop-up circle can be as small or as large as you want it to be. Corporate sponsors and institutions can host a session with financial contributions from employees, decided and distributed within the hour! Individuals can gather friends and family for the same structure, bringing people together for a day of impactful, meaningful grantmaking with a one-time financial commitment.
Why should my company host a pop-up giving circle?
On the company level, pop-up giving circles are an incredible way to engage employees and make them feel like they’re making a difference in the world.
Earlier this year, Philanthropy Together partnered with the social media image database Giphy to facilitate a pop-up giving circle. Together, Giphy employees raised more than $6,000 in honor of Women’s History Month. During the discussion, fundraising, and subsequent celebration, Giphy employees chose to support For The Gworls, a Black, trans-led collective dedicated to Black trans people.
For Giphy, the experience brought the team closer than ever before and gave employees an outlet to align their work environment with their personal values.
“Working with Philanthropy Together on the giving circle pop-up experience exceeded all expectations and then some! Not only were they a joy to work with, they also genuinely cared about the cause and the benefactor organizations which is the exact reason we knew they would be the perfect fit for us. In the end, we held a stellar event and raised more money than we ever have for an incredible cause and for that we’re most gracious.”
Pop-up giving circles are an incredible experience for companies because they:
- Build community. Think of it like the ultimate team-building exercise: instead of sitting around a stuffy conference room struggling through awkward icebreakers, team members open a meaningful discussion on the values and people that are most important to them, then actually make a meaningful impact based on the results of those conversations. After the Google team’s pop-up supporting Faith in New Jersey, event feedback included messages of gratitude, bursts of inspiration, and calls to turn the pop-up into a monthly event (not to mention, a whole lot of heart emojis!).
- Create personal and fun bonding time. Similar to an official giving circle, a pop-up circle offers an informal setting for employees to get to know each other and share sides of themselves we wouldn’t normally see in a work setting. Team members can bond over shared values while learning from each other’s lived experiences in a way that creates and strengthens connections through values-based work. There’s also a bit of a party atmosphere to pop-up circles: the goal of these quick philanthropy events is to celebrate the values we have in common while turning simple conversations into real, impactful work. We’ll take that over Friday morning donuts any day!
- Can be easily customized. One of the best parts of a pop-up circle is that it can be adapted to your company’s needs. A pop-up circle can be remote or in-person, as short as 60 minutes with an individual department, or as long as a two-hour, company-wide celebration. For example, the Elevate Prize Foundation partnered with Philanthropy Together to launch Elevate Giving, which is a series of giving experiences with individuals around the world to raise funds for educators, STEM programs, and educational leadership programs for women and girls. Perhaps your organization is interested in starting on a smaller scale, or wants to take Elevate’s example and run with it. The sky’s the limit!
- Encourage growth and discourse around your pre-existing corporate citizenship and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) strategies. If you have a corporate social responsibility program already in place, do your employees know it exists? An event like a pop-up giving circle is an excellent way to make sure your team knows you have the community’s best interests in mind — and theirs, too! During the pop-up, company leaders could pledge to match employee contributions, or take sign-ups for a permanent giving circle formed as a result of the pop-up. Grow your impact and take the giving circle model to the next level.
How can I host a pop-up giving circle?
If you’re interested in crafting your own event, connect with Philanthropy Together!
Philanthropy Together offers a wide range of services, training programs, and resources for companies and individuals looking to affirm their commitments to their communities through giving circles.
To learn more about Philanthropy Together, request more information on pop-up giving circles, or learn more about bringing this experience to your group, contact Development & Partnerships Director Kyson Bunthuwong. You can also download Philanthropy Together’s step-by-step guide for pop-up circles with friends and family here.
Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist within the nonprofit sector. Maggie is the Founder and Executive Director of the agency Get Mighty Creative, as well as a co-founder and the Director of Operations for The Undercard Collective, a giving circle focused on representation in music and the arts. She is a Maryland transplant by way of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ireland, and most recently Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.