There was an interesting story on NPR the other day about “giving circles.” It’s about groups of people getting together, pooling their money, investigating charities together, and then giving money.
The story mentions how the increasing bureaucratization* of fund-raising leads to groups whose involvement is “I write them a cheque each year.”
It also mentions that the folks doing the investigation end up volunteering their time and getting involved:
“Even if we don’t feel like we’re giving away a lot of money, I think it’s just building in commitment that’ll expand to other things that we do,” she says. “So beyond our involvement in this giving circle, I think we’re all probably going to be more engaged with our communities overall.” (“Donors Turn To Giving Circles As Economy Drops“)
de Tocqueville would be shocked, shocked to discover that actually speaking to other people would increase civil involvement. But as we bureaucratize, background check and formalize every bit of volunteering, more and more people choose to stay away.
*The spell checker knows that word. How sad!)