The Cluj Donor Circle. Social change through collective giving.

The Cluj Community Foundation supports the development of the Cluj Donor Circle since 2013. We wished to have the Donor Circle concept in Cluj because it brings together donor communities in a setting where they feel the joy of giving and where what matters is not how much we give but how we give, the underlying strategy for the change we wish to spur around us.

Donor circle

The concept originates in UK, where the first donor circle was held in 2002 and has become today a mechanism working in different places worldwide, developed and supported by The Funding Network. In Romania, the national partner for the implementation of the concept is the Association for Community Relations (ARC). Circles are organised in several Community Foundations (Cluj, Iași, Țara Făgărașului, Ploiești, Mureș), and other organisations such as ARC, Pact, and CERE).

The Circle proves that change can also happen collectively, triggered by an evening where friends and partners put together their resources and use them to support projects they believe in and serve thus as an inspiration to others.

Donor circle event in Cluj, Romania

Donor circle event in Cluj, Romania


How does it happen?

The Cluj Donor Circle events takes place twice a year (in spring and autumn). This two main events are complemented by others aimed at developing the donors’ network, organising talks or study visits, others.

The event comprises three main sections:

The Opening Session: guests get acquainted to the event, socialize, meet the moderators, organisers, partners, listen to the Donor’s Story (the experience of a donor who has attended the event before) and sponsors making the event possible.

Project presentation: selected by the Circle’s donor network and featured in a catalogue, the three projects are presented, with every team speaking for 6 minutes followed by another 6 minutes for questions from the audience. Thus the project teams interact directly with donors.

The pledging session: this is the part where the collective giving happens. Guests announce their intention to support by means of certain amount of money one of several projects. The support announcement is organized in two rounds and follows the order in which the projects were selected. Support is made by raise of hand and indication of the amount, organisers recording this as it happens. Guests will be made available during the event a payment commitment, a form by which they commit to paying the amounts announced at the event and that allows them to take notes in this respect. The forms will be then used by the organisers to follow up on donors concerning the commitments made.

After the announcement of the payment commitments, donors are invited to stay and get to know each other, socialise, and enjoy the setting and the buffet.

More pictures from the Facebook gallery. 

The Cluj Donor Circle results

5 editions implemented. 15 projects awarded. 200 donors engaged.

$11,900 awarded in 2013 adding $2,783 as in kinds.

$15,374 awarded in 2014 adding $7,900 as in kinds.

$8,300 was engaged at the fifth edition in 2015 including $2,600 in in kinds.

PlayMănăștur is one of the projects supported through the Cluj Donor Circle. Is a workshop about the development and construction of a community venue, a multifunctional park designed to play and socialize. The venue is in a location called “La Terenuri (at the lands)” in the premises of one of the Cluj neighborhood. This area is one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Cluj. The planning and the urban furniture design were realised during the inter-disciplinary workshop Learning from Mănăștur 2014 by architects, landscape designers, anthropologists and students. Using a model of the proposals the team challenged the users to give feedback, trying to further integrate their ideas in the design. PlayMănăștur is ongoing and is the result of an effort made by young professionals in direct link with the desires of the La Terenuri users.

“It’s good to do something good for the community. It’s that simple!” Rolf de Graaf, owner at EsElektro and Cluj Donor Circle Member

“TFN is that it belongs to the donors. By choosing to be proactive and thinking about what we want to support, we take responsibility for the process; by inviting organizations to come and present to us, by raising the questions we think are important, we also take responsibility for the outcome of our meetings, and I think this makes us more generous.” Frederick Mulder CBE, Founder of The Funding Network (TFN)


Simona Șerban, Executive director, Cluj Community Foundation at

Eugenie Harvey – Project Director, TFN International at

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