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First Circle of Change fundraising event held in N Ireland

First Circle of Change fundraising event held in N Ireland

The first European trial of the American concept of ‘’ has raised £45,000 for a number of charities.

The ‘Circle of Change’ was set up by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) and brought together a diverse group of people with a shared desire for social justice, including a company owner, a refugee, and a recently homeless woman. 

This is the first time that this new giving model has been used outside of North America.

What is a Circle of Change?

A Circle of Change is a group of people from all backgrounds who have come together to talk about and learn from each other about the root causes of issues affecting their communities and pool some of their own money and make grants to organisations working on those issues.

It is not to be confused with a Giving Circle, which have been launched in Northern Ireland, and one of which opened in Bath last year.

The Circle of Change’s fund can provide unrestricted core , and particularly seeks to fund projects that are innovative or new, and that could not be funded by statutory sources of income.

The 18 members of the ‘Circle of Change’ raised £45,000 which will be split equally between six organisations who tackle a range of issues important to the group including poverty, mental health and minority communities.


First charity to receive funding

The first charity to benefit, receiving £7,500, is the Love Works Co-Operative, based in North Belfast.

Justin Nicholl from Love Works, commented:  “Love Works Cooperative is worker-owned and through the skills of our members who have experience in gardening, bike repair, and baking, we try and provide a useful service to the wider community whilst supporting ourselves.

“This is a huge amount of money to receive in one go; to say we’re delighted is an understatement.  It would have taken us a very long time to raise this much money which we will put to good use in our community.”



Andrew McCracken, Chief Executive of CFNI, said of the new fund: “The Community Foundation is always looking for new and innovative ways it can support communities and ‘Circle of Change’ is a unique concept that’s never been tried outside North America before.

“Where it differs from many giving circles is the varied nature of the people who are part of the group – effectively becoming fundraisers and donors, no matter what their financial means or backgrounds might be, where everyone’s contribution is valued equally.”

Andrew Campbell, ‘Circle of Change’ member, added:  “The ‘Circle of Change’ is a really unique way of giving to good causes.  As a member, I have a say in where the money raised goes so I can help causes that are really important to me; something that I find very appealing.  As a member, every one of our voices was heard and even though we’re all from totally different backgrounds it was so interesting to see the correlation in the things that were important to us, like mental health and social justice at all levels.”

Mr McCracken said CFNI were already recruiting for more members to join the ‘Circle of Change’. Anyone over 18 is eligible to apply which can be done by emailing  He said the ripple effect of the ‘Circle of Change’ will go “way beyond the resources raised”.



Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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