The Scoop: Grapevine is an online platform that makes collective giving easier than ever. Crowd-granting through Grapevine connects communities of all sizes to raise money and make collective donations to the charities and organizations important to them. The donor communities often form supportive in-person social units that gather, network, and mobilize to further their causes. LGBTQ+ circles and communities can use Grapevine to support the charities that mean the most to them, all while meeting and connecting with people in their local communities.

The LGBTQ+ Index is a new tool launched by the Equitable Giving Lab, a project led by Indiana University that seeks to track the donations given to charities that support LGBTQ+ people, women, and girls. The Equitable Giving Lab brings an equity lens to philanthropy by measuring funding for traditionally under-resourced groups.

The 2023 LGBTQ+ Index tracked charitable giving to LGBTQ+ organizations from 2015 to 2019. The Index reports that LGBTQ+ organizations receive only 0.13% of overall philanthropic support but are growing faster than their counterparts. Donations to LGBTQ+ groups increased by 46%, while non-LGBTQ+ organizations saw a 25% increase.

While the growth in donations is a good sign, LGBTQ+ organizations remain largely underfunded. It’s important to get involved with charities that are important to you, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to go about making a meaningful impact through a monetary donation. This is where Grapevine comes in.

Grapevine makes forming giving circles with friends and family simpler than ever. Grapevine users can connect with their circles, make philanthropic goals, and pool money for donations that make an impact. Emily Rasmussen is the CEO of Grapevine, and she told us all about the platform and how folks can use it to support the LGBTQ+ organizations they care about the most.

“We have so many great giving circle groups across the country, and many of those groups are made up of members who identify as LGBTQ+, or allies, so there’s so much there to get involved with,” Emily said. 

Grapevine Simplifies Giving Circles

If you’ve never heard of a giving circle before, no worries. “The giving circle model is a really simple concept,” Emily explained. “It’s about a group of people who come together to connect with each other through this process of pooling their donations and collaborating to decide what to support as a collective.”

Emily said there were many kinds of giving circles. There are smaller giving circles made up of friend groups, families, book clubs, and other small groups. Emily told us that these groups usually form to pool donations for a specific charity they want to support.

“The most popular giving circle model on Grapevine is location-based circles,”  Emily said. “A group of people in a particular area will come together through Grapevine and donate money every quarter. At the end of the year, they have this big sum of money to give to a charity.”

how grapevines work
Grapevine makes organizing giving circles simple.

Emily said the most common procedure within the location-based circles is to find at least 100 people to be in the circle. Grapevine makes finding donors easy, as folks can browse local Grapevines and join easily through the site. She said each donor will often give $100 four times a year. At the end of the year, a group of 100 people can raise $40,000.

Giving circles mobilize the community in several ways. Grapevine distinguishes the kind of fundraising it facilitates as crowdgranting as opposed to crowdfunding. While the two are very similar, crowdgranting centers on community-building, collaboration among donors, pooling of collective resources, and continued dedication to the cause. Grapevine refers to these four differences as the Four Cs of Crowdgranting.

Giving circles help people make a big impact on the organizations they care about. They also build supportive communities among the folks who participate in them. “A lot of networking and socializing happens around these groups,” Emily told us. “They often do volunteering in their communities or organize events to help raise some money.”

Make Impactful Donations That Support LGBTQ+ Causes

It’s easy for people to find Grapevine giving circles that support organizations they care about. Donors can join crowdgranting groups or donate to select organizations directly through Grapevine. Potential donors can use Grapevine’s search feature to find giving circles and nonprofits they want to support.

LGBTQ+ Equity is one giving circle on Grapevine that supports LGBTQ+ causes. This giving circle focuses on supporting a variety of LGBTQ+ organizations and has previously supported the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, New York Transgender Advocacy Group, and Ali Forney Center. The LGBTQ+ Equity giving circle asks members to donate only $10 a month and makes donations quarterly.

grapevine logo
Grapevine is making is easier to help underfunded LGBTQ+ causes.

Members of a Grapevine get to provide input every time a donation is coming up. Members can make suggestions for different nonprofits through in-site features. Giving circles often post a poll to their Grapevine, where members can vote on which charity they would like to support for that donation cycle.

LGBTQ+ Parent Support is a giving circle focused on supporting LGBTQ+ parents in need. The group’s funds support everything from legal costs and mental health care to housing for LGBTQ-identifying parents who need extra support. 

Folks interested in getting involved with giving circles can find an already established LGBTQ-focused Grapevine or band together with friends and community members to create their own. “There’s a lot out there, but we feel like we can do so much more to support LGBTQ+ nonprofits,” Emily said. “We always tell people we want to support them in creating or finding a group that provides the kind of community and involvement they’re looking for.”

Get Involved & Make a Difference With Grapevine

A central aspect of Grapevine’s mission is to diversify and democratize philanthropy. “We see the giving circle movement as really powerful,” Emily said. “It’s engaging a broader diversity of people, which means it’s benefiting a broader diversity of organizations and causes. It’s not just what the ultra-high net worth people want to support.”

Giving circle members can make significant donations to nonprofits that usually don’t receive large donations. Emily explained how Grapevine helps circles make responsible and educated decisions for their charities to ensure funds are handled appropriately and disbursed effectively.

grapevine CEO and team
Emily and the Grapevine team are always working to improve crowd granting through Grapevine.

“We have a lot of great resources on the Grapevine platform to help people identify effective nonprofits that reflect their values,” Emily said.

The giving circle movement emerged in the last decade. Emily said the relatively new movement established its foundations years ago. “Research shows that the modern collective giving movement started in the 1980s in the United States. It was primarily women in specific locations who were collaborating and donating money,” Emily explained. “It started growing by word of mouth, and now it’s being brought online and growing even more.”

Nonprofits focused on supporting LGBTQ+ causes are in need of support, and Grapevine is a great way for people to show that support. “I really like to think of giving circles as being a place where you can find and connect with like-minded people,” Emily said. “And in the process, you get to do something meaningful.”