A lot of giving circles also focus on smaller charitable organizations, Bearman says, since those are the charities that often don't have as much support from the general public.

Giving circles may also want to document the way they are run, particularly if they are constantly soliciting new members. The Giving Circles Knowledge Center, a wealth of online information about giving circles, includes a number of templates for documents that members of giving circles may find helpful as they're planning the structure of their organizations.

Not only do giving circles provide a forum for leveraging money for a cause, but they provide their members with a sense of camaraderie as well.

"It's a little scary and a little lonely to raise money by yourself," says Bearman. A giving circle provides a safer environment where everyone can learn about different charities and the needs of the community together.

"I would say giving circles are special because they provide a way to be philanthropic but also to really learn about the community and to learn about yourself as a philanthropist," adds Bearman. "It is much more rewarding than just writing a check."

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