AAPIP Voices

What is Building Democratic Philanthropy?


By Peggy Saika, President/Executive Director

Over the last two decades AAPIP has focused primarily on building membership and chapters to access philanthropic capital for our communities. Even though we’re reminded daily of the enduring challenges that our communities face, at AAPIP we support solutions that provide signs of hope.

Building Democratic Philanthropy is a framework that calls on both organized philanthropy and individuals to support the development of institutions and practices that begin with the vision of communities first, and that draw on the assets of those communities as the starting place for any blueprint to maximize its potential.  It is a call to institutions and individuals to engage the voices of impacted communities, and to leverage individual action for collective good.

There may be no clearer expression of Building Democratic Philanthropy than AAPIP’s commitment to community philanthropy and the development of a giving circle movement. A giving circle is a pooled fund, often organized with friends and colleagues, through which individuals collectively support their communities. Giving circles expand economic assets and build social consciousness.

No matter who or where you are — in a grantmaking institution, in government, or as a community donor, you can contribute to building democratic philanthropy.  Building Democratic Philanthropy demonstrates the development of practices within the field and in our communities that begin with justice and equity.



Be a part of a renewed drive to increase foundation support to immigrant and refugee communities

  • Encourage development of and investment in collaborative funds that support your community

  • Stress the need for capacity-building as well as core support to sustain your community’s organizations

  • Use and insist on data that reflects giving—or the lack of giving—to your community

Join the national movement to grow individual philanthropy

  • Join or start a giving circle

  • Talk to your community foundation about supporting your community or giving circle

  • Build a matching pool of funds for organizations in your community