Circle: a platform for better giving

New content and members hub to inform, cultivate, and inspire strategic philanthropy in the MENA region and beyond. is a new online platform aimed at strengthening the Middle East’s philanthropic ecosystem by combining practical insights, inspirational voices, and convening opportunities to empower regional donors to take the next steps on their giving journey.

In addition to conversations with leading donors, in-depth profiles of innovative foundations and impact initiatives, and concise how-to guides, Circle has a membership-only section hosting exclusive resources, an interactive, personalised dashboard for registered members to connect and share experiences, news updates, and a bespoke events calendar.

Available in both English and Arabic, the site also features the Circle Index, the region's most comprehensive database of foundations, non-profits, and social enterprises. This unique tool tracks who is spending what, where and with whom, with the aim of helping both donors and grantees find new partners and increase transparency around giving.

Circle’s insight section includes articles penned by global experts and thought leaders from Naila Farouky, CEO of the Arab Foundations Forum (AFF) and Shainoor Khoja, impact investor and changemaker, to president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), Patricia McIlreavy and Carl Manlan, vice president of inclusive impact and sustainability at Visa Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA).

Read about Dubai-based philanthropist Alisha Moopen’s giving philosophy, hear from leading regional arts patrons Kamel Lazaar and Omar Al Qattan about why they fund cultural projects, and listen to the lessons learned by some of the region’s most respected philanthropists, including the UAE’s Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair and Raja Easa Al Gurg, Samih Sawiris from Egypt, and Bahrain’s Khalid Al Zayani.

On the more practical side, there are downloadable guides to a range of topics, from choosing a giving vehicle, to defining a corporate giving strategy, as well as curated pages highlighting the most useful and up-to-date resources related to topics such as finding your focus, climate philanthropy, collaborative giving, and trust-based donations.

In addition, Circle also hosts third-party content from other providers carefully curated (and translated into Arabic) for regional donors. Examples include: this primer on strategic philanthropy from The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI); a glossary of philanthropic terms, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF); this guide to Impact Investing for families, by the Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth (CSP) at the University of Zurich and The ImPact, a family office membership community.

"The Circle will be a valuable tool to strengthen donor networks in the Middle East and increase the impact of their giving."

Robert Rosen, director of philanthropic partnerships, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. is a collaboration between Philanthropy Age and the Pearl Initiative, a business-led non-profit organisation promoting corporate accountability, and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

Membership to Circle is free of cost, and benefits include access to exclusive content and resources, as well as invitation to events, workshops, and networking opportunities, where members can share ideas, ask questions, and find new pathways to action.

"Vibrant peer networks are a great way to increase collaboration among donors and increase the impact and effectiveness of their philanthropy,” said BMGF director of philanthropic partnerships, Robert Rosen. “The Circle will be a valuable tool to strengthen donor networks in the Middle East and increase the impact of their giving,” he added.

Lebanese philanthropist and Circle member and contributor, Lynn Zovighian, said: "Circle is a go-to resource for meaningful knowledge on strategic philanthropy when I have tough questions and need grounded perspectives."

"At a time when serving communities has become much harder, having a meaningful community where it is safe to ask the tough questions, push for excellence, and give and receive with kindness means everything," she added.

Over the past 12 months, the Circle network has held member events on a range of topics including strategic philanthropy, impact investment, and trust-based philanthropy hosted by a range of expert from 21/64 and Innovest Advisory to the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

International keynote speakers, meanwhile, have included: Hadi Partovi, founder of; Sara Ojeh, founder and director of Ethos Philanthropy; Sapphira Goradia, executive director, Vijay and Marie Goradia Foundation; and Myrna Atalla, executive director of Alfanar, the region’s first venture philanthropy organisation - PA