Gather to Give

Looking for an exciting and collaborative way to give back to the Black Hills community?

Join one of our Giving Circles!

Learn about Giving Circles

Giving Circles are annual social events that allow members of the Black Hills community to learn and give together.

Members tell stories, catch up with old friends, and make new ones—all over locally-catered drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Membership fees contribute to a funding pool. During the event, members vote to support local nonprofits. At the end of the evening, we announce the grant recipients.

Our Giving Circles

Each of our Giving Circles is named for the decision made by people who call this place home: folks like you who choose to build your careers, raise your families or enjoy retirement here in the beautiful Black Hills.

Northern Hills by Choice

Held each spring, Northern Hills by Choice (NHBC) hosts donors from Butte, Lawrence and Meade Counties. The Homestake Opera House and SURF Visitor’s Center have hosted recent NHBC gatherings.

NHBC memberships are tax deductible and cost $500 per person. Thanks to generous matching support from the estate of longtime Spearfish resident Jim Hess, each NHBC membership contributes $750 to nonprofits working in the Northern Hills.

Black Hills by Choice

Black Hills by Choice (BHBC) is the oldest and largest of our Giving Circles. Representing the entire Black Hills, BHBC usually meets at an exciting venue in Pennington County.

BHBC memberships are tax deductible and cost $1,000. This covers two people, often a couple or a member and a guest, for two events each year in the summer and fall.

Recent events have taken place at the Journey Museum and Learning Center and the Dahl Fine Arts Center in Rapid City.

Southern Hills by Choice

In the late summer, our supporters in Fall River, Custer and Oglala Lakota Counties gather for Southern Hills by Choice (SHBC). The group meets at fascinating locations like The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. Membership to the annual event is tax deductible and costs $500 per person.

Why Join?


Giving Circles are a fun, engaging way to support vital organizations with your neighbors in your home community.

It’s a great way to connect with other philanthropically minded people and learn how we can work together to make our region thrive.

Early and mid-career attendees find mentors in the community who help them understand how and why to give. More experienced donors share stories about how they came into success and how and why they give back.


Join a Giving Circle

Membership donations are $1,000 for two people (often a member and guest). The donation covers two annual events in Pennington County.
Membership donations are $500 per person for one annual event in Fall River, Custer or Oglala Lakota county.
Membership donations are $500 per person for one annual event in Butte, Lawrence or Meade county.

Frequently asked questions

What's a Giving Circle?

Giving Circles are a way that community foundations across the country get locals involved in philanthropy. Our annual Giving Circle events are an opportunity to gather, learn grow and give together.

Giving Circle membership fees support the operations of BHACF and contribute to a grantmaking pool. During the event, guests vote on area nonprofits, and at the end of the evening, we announce the grant recipients.

How much does it cost?

Black Hills by Choice memberships cost $1,000 for two people and two events. (Usually, a couple or a member and their guest.) Memberships are $500 per person for Northern Hills by Choice and Southern Hills by Choice.

Are my membership fees tax deductible?

Yes, they are 100% tax deductible. The fee counts as a charitable donation to the Black Hills Area Community Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This is true for individuals who wish to become members and businesses sponsoring memberships for their employees.

Where does my money go?

Membership fees fill a pot of money that each Giving Circle uses to make grants to local nonprofits. At the event, each member votes for nonprofits working in their area. We tally up the votes and announce the winning grant recipients.

Some of the fees help cover the costs of the gathering, while another portion goes to our operations so we can keep working for communities throughout the Black Hills.

What kinds of organizations are eligible for Giving Circle Grants?

Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the Black Hills could receive a Giving Circle grant if they earn the highest share of the votes. Our staff normally vets and selects several strong, impactful nonprofits to be eligible for members’ votes.

Who can attend or join a Giving Circle?

Anyone and everyone! Because these are in-person events, we hope all our members have connections to the Black Hills and can attend each gathering. Please consider joining, and if you do, ask a friend to join as well.

Can my company sponsor a membership?

Yes! Thanks to some generous contributions from local businesses, we now offer corporate sponsorships. All membership fees cost the same as regular memberships, and your business may deduct the cost of the sponsorship. Giving Circles offer great opportunities for team building, for your business to be recognized for doing charitable work in the community, and a way to help new arrivals to the Black Hills and younger folks get in the habit of giving. There’s one rule: corporate sponsors can’t ask or encourage their employees or guests to coordinate their votes in support of a specific nonprofit. We want every nonprofit in the area to have an equal chance at receiving a grant.

Have questions? Connect with our Giving Team.

Eric Zimmer, Director of Philanthropy, and Kathleen Fitzgerald-Ellis, Associate Director of Philanthropy-Northern Hills, are happy to answer any questions about our Giving Circles program.