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Letter from the President & CEO: Strategic Plan Process Update

Rainier ClubDear WA Women’s Foundation Members,

Since my last report in October, the Board of Directors has made further progress on our strategic plan, and some of you have been involved in giving us feedback. Our consultant Tara Smith has met with our Cabinet, Impact Assessment Committee (IAC), and Member Engagement Committee, sharing our work product, to-date, and asking for feedback. We also have plans to meet with the Pooled Fund Grant Committee in early March.

For some members, it may seem like this process has been going on for a long time.  It is true that we revised our mission statement more than a year ago but that was part of our rebranding. This current process actually started last August, when our Strategic Planning Steering Committee met for the first time and our consultants began their information gathering process.  Since then, we hosted member focus groups and held a Board retreat in September.  We also discussed strategic planning at the two other regular Board meetings that have been held since September (in December and January).

Crux Consulting has been leading us through a values-based strategy process based upon the work of Dr. Steve Patty (Moving Icebergs: Leading People to Lasting Change).   His premise is that in order to create lasting change in an organization, we need to not only shape the actions of individuals within an organization but also, dive below the surface to engage their shared values, aims, assumptions and beliefs.  Otherwise, change simply chips away at the top of the iceberg but doesn’t actually move it.

And yes, icebergs move slowly – as does this process as compared to others.  We also are moving slowly because we are a membership organization, and we know that you, our members, are highly invested in the Foundation.  We are trying to test our working ideas in front of many different subgroups of members as possible, and you are busy women!

The member engagement we have conducted to-date has shaped the work of our Board and Strategic Planning Steering Committee in defining what we value collectively, what we believe collectively and what we are trying to do in the world as Washington Women’s Foundation. We have placed these ideas into the boxes of the Iceberg Model – Box A (ultimate aims/values), Box B (core beliefs) and Box C (intended impact). Click here to see a visual of the Patty Iceberg Model.

We shared the content of Boxes A and B with Cabinet, IAC and Member Engagement.  Here are a few samples:

Box A – Our Ultimate Aims

In all things and with all colleagues, partners and stakeholders, WA Women’s Foundation will:

  • Be in community
  • Embrace discomfort
  • Elevate or amplify the power of all who identify as women

Box B – Our Core Beliefs

These beliefs and assumptions shape our work at WA Women’s Foundation:

  • Recognizing and challenging our conscious and unconscious biases leads to better decision-making
  • Philanthropy is a powerful force for change, and it is one of several tools available to us
  • Partnership-based relationships between nonprofits and philanthropists improve the condition of our community

Since August, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee has met a total of six times, including last week. At that meeting, the Committee reviewed feedback from the Member Engagement Committee, Cabinet and IAC and made some changes to Boxes A, B and C.  The Committee also decided to convene a task force of past Pooled Fund Grant Committee leadership in March.  We are asking this group to meet for 3 hours to brainstorm how they might change our Pooled Fund Grant Committee process with our Ultimate Aims and Core Beliefs in mind.  Their concepts, and feedback from grantee interviews being conducted by Crux in early March, will be shared with the Board at another full-day retreat in March.  At the conclusion of the retreat, we hope to have a full framework of the plan to again share with subgroups of members.

We are not far away from bringing this process to a close, but I also think that we’re facing a new reality where strategic planning is never really DONE.  We’re always learning, evaluating and adapting – as a learning organization I expect we’ll always be transforming in some way.  Thank you for being part of the transformation.  And if you have any questions along the way, please call or email me. I value hearing from you.

Pooled Fund Grants 2018: Top 25 Organizations


Since the beginning of January, members of the 2018 Pooled Fund Grant Committee have been reading and discussing 348 Letters of Inquiry submitted to Washington Women’s Foundation this past fall. They thoughtfully reflected on lessons from Intersect and used new tools from the Implicit Bias training the Foundation hosted in January to make their decisions about which organizations to select for a full proposal. We’re delighted to share the list of our Top 25 organizations this year and a bit about what they are applying for below. Read on for a refresher of how our process works from this point forward.


DNDA (Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association): To provide urgent structural upgrades to the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, a Southwest Seattle community hub and National Historic Landmark that houses key community-based organizations, including Arts Corps, Totem Star, REEL Grrls, and The Service Board.

Northwest Film Forum: To build capacity in order to optimize usage of NWFF’s co-operative space, ensuring affordable and accessible cultural space is available to the Seattle and King County community at large as well as NWFF’s tenants.

Spark Central: To increase the reach of Spark’s free educational enrichment programs for low-income youth in Spokane County.

Totem Star: To amplify youth voice through music production classes and performance opportunities, serving many youth of color and youth from low-income communities in Seattle and the surrounding area.

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE): To empower young women in Seattle to share their stories and create change through the Writing our stories/Writing our world program, in partnership with Hedgebrook.


Denise Louie Education Center: To expand their preschool for low-income, refugee, and immigrant families to North Seattle, provide staff training on immigration rights, and improve long-term sustainability by diversifying revenue streams.

La Casa Hogar: To provide a welcoming and physically safe environment for La Casa Hogar’s culturally and linguistically relevant programs and classes for Latino families in Yakima Valley.

The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas: To improve writing skills and academic outcomes for youth by providing free writing and creative expression programs to Seattle area students in need of additional support.

Treehouse: To help more youth in foster care graduate high school by expanding their holistic Graduation Success program into Snohomish County, Spokane, and Tacoma.

Wellspring Family Services: To provide ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) training to child care and early learning providers that serve homeless children in Seattle and King County.


American Rivers: To protect the Puget Sound and the Columbia River basin, currently threatened by climate change and competition for resources, through comprehensive river management tools.

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities: To address the growing challenge of microplastics in the Puget Sound through data collection, evaluation, and education for the general public.

Sound Action: To protect the Puget Sound ecosystem by challenging development permits that threaten marine habitats in the Salish Sea through legal action.

Stand (formerly ForestEthics):  To build opposition to fossil fuel expansion and oil trains and move toward a clean energy economy in Whatcom County through community engagement and grassroots organizing.

Washington Green Schools: To strengthen students’ ability to become environmental leaders through school-based green school programs and school gardens in Washington State.


Crisis Clinic: To create a support text line for teens in crisis across Washington State, supplementing their successful Help Line and teen-answered Teen Link telephone programs.

Daybreak Youth Services: To expand their successful Spokane-based Paths to Prosperity program to Brush Prairie, WA, helping youth struggling with addiction create positive life plans through counseling, group activities, and academic support.

Skagit Adult Day Program: To provide social programing, support groups, and caregiver trainings for adults suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s in Skagit County.

The Memorial Foundation: To reduce health disparities for pregnant Native American women and lower the infant mortality rate on the Yakama Reservation through comprehensive prenatal and perinatal care programs.

Washington Youth Soccer Foundation: To grow their Soccer for Success program, creating health-centered opportunities for accessible afterschool programming and mentorship for underserved youth in Washington State.


Disability Rights Washington (DRW): To improve the conditions for incarcerated people with disabilities in Washington State with the goal to interrupt the cycle of recidivism and support successful reentry.

First Step Family Support Center: To break the cycle of poverty for families on the Olympic Peninsula through parenting classes, home visits, support groups, and drop-in centers.

Sawhorse Revolution: To provide opportunities and training for youth in Seattle interested in construction and design, while completing building projects that benefit low-income Seattle residents and people experiencing homelessness.

Seattle Clemency Project: To connect reformed prisoners in Washington State with experienced pro bono lawyers to apply for clemency.

TeamChild: To provide legal services and holistic support for youth in the juvenile justice system who are often homeless in King, Pierce, Spokane, and Yakima counties.

Need a refresher on WA Women’s grant making process? Our large-scale, strategic approach to collective grant making is a national model that has been tested and refined over the last 22 years. The goal of our grant making and programming is to challenge and educate our members, who then use their collective power to influence community transformation. Together, we have invested more than $17 million through our Pooled Fund Grants, our Partner Grants and individual grants.

Here’s a quick recap of our annual Pooled Fund grant making process:

  • January – LOIs: The Grant Committee reviews and discusses Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and invites 25 organizations to submit proposals.
  • March/April – Proposals: The Grant Committee evaluates 25 full proposals and selects 15 organizations to receive site visits.
  • April/May – Site Visits: Teams of WA Women’s Foundation members visit 15 organizations and report their findings to the full Grant Committee. The Grant Committee then selects the final 10 organizations to appear on the ballot.
  • June – Member Voting: All 475 members of WA Women’s Foundation vote by electronic ballot to determine which 5 organizations will receive our $100,000 Pooled Fund Grant Awards. The grantees are announced at our Grant Award Celebration on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.  Mark your calendar now to join us at this special event to be held at the Seattle Art Museum.

Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has given out $17 million in transformative grants that enable not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington State.

We invite all who identify as women to join us to make a more powerful impact in our community. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. 


Did You Join the Conversation?

by Beth McCaw, President & CEO, Washington Women’s Foundation

In 2017, Washington Women’s Foundation rebranded our annual educational event formerly known as “Discovery Days.”  We wanted to invite you to go deeper than “discovery,” which is simply becoming aware of something that you did not already know.  We also wanted to disrupt the balance of power between those “who know” and those “who don’t know,” to build a greater sense of shared community between the presenters, members of WA Women’s Foundation and our guests, including grantees and other community partners.

One meaning of the event’s new name – Intersect – is “to share a common area.” If you joined us at Intersect this past November, I hope you felt a greater sense of inclusion and connectedness to our speakers and to each other as we engaged in more conversation throughout the day.

Some of what we heard at Intersect this year challenged our thinking about the way we practice philanthropy at Washington Women’s Foundation.  One of panelists noted, “Philanthropy was not created to be about the redistribution of wealth or access to power or privilege.  It was created to put Band-aids on outcomes downstream and get tax deductions.”


Equitable Grantmaking panel featuring (from left) Dr. Gary Kinte Perry, Lindsay Hill (Raikes Foundation), Maya Thornell-Sandifor (Philanthropy Northwest), and Ike McCreery (Resource Generation)

When Washington Women’s Foundation was formed 20+ years ago, our founders were challenging the conventions of “traditional philanthropy” at that time dominated by white men of wealth.  They instead created a collective, women-powered model of philanthropy rooted in equality and community.  This willingness to imagine philanthropy as something different than the traditional norms has placed us on the cutting edge for many years – we have been leaders in awarding multi-year grants,  providing general operating support and investing in capacity-building.  However, at Intersect, we heard that we clearly can do more.

Shortly after attending Intersect I read an online article by Vanessa Daniel, Executive Director of the Groundswell Fund.  Entitled “America is Burning” the article referenced many of the themes we heard from speakers at Intersect. Of philanthropy, Ms. Daniel notes:

Large scale social change is not created by philanthropy, but philanthropy does have an impact on who has the resources to engage and at what scale.  It has an impact on the pace at which people can be organized. It influences which strategies and leaders are legitimized in the eyes of those who have money and can thus affect who has the resources to shape narratives and drive approaches to social change.

This struck a particular chord with me as we know that our grant making influences the grant making decisions of other funders in town. Whether it is our intent or not, we are having an impact on how resources, even beyond our own, are being allocated in communities throughout the state.  With this power, comes a duty and an obligation to listen to our community and make our decisions carefully and strategically.

So what did our community of speakers ask of us at Intersect?

  • Listen to learn. Sarah Tran charged us to “listen relentlessly.”  Another speaker noted, “Communities have their own answers; get to know the community.”
  • Continue to provide general operating and capacity-building support.
  • Also invest in advocacy, public policy work, coalition- and power-building among organizations led by people of color.
  • Fund organizations that are focused on systems change. Move funding “upstream” to work on root causes, which mainly arise from a lack of access to resources and a lack of access to power.
  • Think about the balance of power in every step of our grant making process.

They also encouraged us to share the power that we have as a collective.  WA Women’s Foundation member Jodi Green took note of a definition of “power” shared at Intersect that really resonated with her – “Power is the ability to get things done, the ability to change the rules of the game, and the ability to shape what people think is possible.”  How can we allocate our grant making dollars to allow community based organization to get things done, to change the rules of the game, and/or shape what people think is possible?


Our speakers also encouraged us to think about our collective power beyond grant making.

  • Provide access; bring communities of color to the table with capacity to participate.
  • Create community convenings, and elevate the voices of others.
  • Build authentic relationships. Get out into the community and take the time to hear individuals’ lived experiences.
  • Use our own voices to elevate issues and advocate for change.

These are bold statements and big challenges, not all of which we can achieve through our Pooled Fund grant making process as it is currently structured.  However, Pooled Fund Grant Committee Chair Susan Heikkala and I suggest that if you are serving on the 2018 Pooled Fund Grant Committee, you use that opportunity to model and practice behavior that is consistent with the advice we received at Intersect.

In your work group meetings, try to do the following:

  • Share power. Encourage more voices to come into the conversation. If everyone in your work group participates equally and fully, you will benefit from the collective wisdom of the group.  Also, consider whether the organizations that are moving forward in your group are ones that have traditionally had more resources/power than others.  Is it possible that other organizations, if given resources, would actually have a greater impact on the issue because they are closer to the communities most effected?
  • Listen relentlessly. Listen not only to your fellow members but also reflect on the voices not represented at the table.  The voices of the community can be found in an organization’s LOI.  What is the community telling us about their needs through the organization and its LOI?  More importantly, what solution is community proposing?
  • Commit to having a learning mindset. Notice and be curious about your reactions to the LOIs and proposals. How are your lived experiences and biases influencing your opinions and feelings?  How would different experiences influence your perspective?
  • Practice inclusive philanthropy. Think about where inequity exists and consider elevating the LOIs that “work upstream” on root causes, offer the most promising solutions, the greatest opportunities for reducing disparities and/or reflect the voices of communities not typically heard.  If only LOIs from white-led organizations working with people of color seem to be moving forward in your work group, then your work group may want to pause and discuss this fact.
  • Embrace Your Discomfort. Making decisions about which organizations to fund has never been easy. This year will be no different.  But we have never shied away from the challenge.  These challenges are why we come together to do this work.  Just remember that this process is not about finding perfect solutions.  It’s about being committed to change and building a more equitable society where disparities caused by systems and institutions that do not treat all women, men and children equally do not dictate individual outcomes.

Even if you are not serving on this year’s Pooled Fund Grant Committee, we encourage you to continue this work.  What can you do?  At Discovery Days 2016, C. Davida Ingram, who also gave the opening remarks at Intersect, asked us to continue thinking and reflecting deeply about our privilege.  Davida also urged us to participate in ongoing trainings about implicit bias.  WA Women’s Foundation is offering a three-hour workshop on implicit bias on January 12, 2018, and all members are invited to attend.  Also, when you receive your ballot and voter’s guide later this year, re-read this blog and think about how your vote will reflect the advice given to us by our community.

A woman who was bold enough to run for the highest office in our land once said, “I have always believed that women are agents of change, we are drivers of progress, we are makers of peace.”  At WA Women’s Fdn, we have been investing in change, progress and peace for more than 20 years.  The cause is even more urgent today, and there is more that we must do as a learning community of grant makers.  Help us continue this conversation.

And the Winner of the Emerging Issues Partner Grant is…

By Donna Lou and Jennifer Sik

Co-Chairs, Emerging Issues Partner Grant Committee

The Issue

This year, the committee focused its learning and inquiry on the topic of Women’s Civic Leadership and Engagement. As a group, we explored what leadership means in a political and community context, and evaluated organizations focused on leadership opportunities for women in Washington.

The grant committee process began in mid-September and took a total of 12 weeks to complete. As part of our education on the issue, we recommended that the committee read Joanna Barsh’s book How Remarkable Women Lead, shared the Nonprofit AF post Progressive funders, you may be part of the problem and reviewed the Women’s Funding Alliance report The Status of Women in Washington. WFA Executive Director Liz Vivian and Director of Programs Aparna Rae both came to the committee to dive deep into the issue and share their expertise as well. If you’re curious to learn more, we recommend reading WA Women’s Fdn President & CEO Beth McCaw’s recent blog post titled Claiming Our Right to Not Only Elect, But Be Elected.

Our Partner


For those of you that are not familiar with our Partner Grant program, these grant committees differ from our larger Pooled Fund grants because we bring in an external partner. Working with an outside grant making organization assists us with locating potential grantees, and brings expertise to our committee in our focus area.

We chose Women’s Funding Alliance to be our partner in this effort. We thought this would be a good time to once again work with WFA as they were in the process of making grants for their LEAD Initiative. This initiative focuses on funding programs that help bring more women to the table as elected or appointed officials, candidates, voters and civic leaders.

Always interested in experimenting, we decided to try something new in how we structured our partnership this year. Funding for Partner Grants are usually generated by committee members who contribute, on average, $500 each towards the grant. This year because of WFA’s genuine interest in our committee’s work, they became an invested partner with our committee by not only contributing $20,000 to the grant pool, but also inviting WFA donors to join the committee. We were delighted to bring these new voices into our process!

We also had another partner this fall – Laird Norton Wealth Management.  For the second time, Laird Norton Wealth Management also generously contributed to the pool. Thus, the total amount of funds available for this year’s Emerging Partner Grant was $28,000.

Our Process

We reviewed seven proposals from organizations that had applied to WFA for their LEAD Initiative funding. By reviewing proposals that had already been submitted, we were able to minimize the impact on the organizations by not asking them to fill out another grant application. After discussing each proposal we narrowed our choices down to three organizations. We made site visits to all three organizations and then came back together for one last meeting, to discuss what we learned from our visits and vote on grant awards.

As a group, we put together some criteria to guide us in our proposal review as well as our final decision making. This criteria included focusing on underserved communities that would include some geographic diversity, programs that would be innovative, replicable and sustainable, and outcomes that would provide long term, actionable and impactful solutions.

The Grantees

Because we had three outstanding and compelling proposals and more funds then is normally the case for a Partner Grant, the committee decided to award funds to all three organizations. Read on to learn more about the three organizations that received funding from this grant.

Para Los Niños


This organization will be receiving a $20,000 grant from our Emerging Partner Grant Committee.

This grassroots organization is based out of Burien, WA. Para Los Niños leads a family literacy program and two summer programs that engage and involve nearly 200 Latino immigrant families on an annual basis. Their education programs provide an entry point for Latina mothers who might be reluctant to enroll in a program for themselves, but eager to participate in activities for their children. Through this program, Para Los Niños finds ways to build relationships and recruits participants for their Leadership Academy.

The Leadership Academy is nearly 10 years in the making and builds off of a foundational curriculum about the U.S. education and political system, advocacy and community organizing and individual leadership skills.

Although this grant does not cover the entire cost of running the Leadership Academy program, we are hoping that Para Los Niños can use this grant to leverage other funding.

La Casa Hogar

La Casa Hogar EIPG Photo

Our committee is awarding a grant of $7,000 to La Casa Hogar, a non-profit organization based out of Yakima, WA where an estimated 44% of residents are Latina/Hispanic.

La Casa Hogar provides a wide range of social and educational services for the Latina/Hispanic community and partners with local city and state organizations to help low-income families in the region.

La Casa Hogar plans to develop a leadership program that is open to all of their students using a promotora model by developing confidence, education, and civic engagement among 15 Spanish-speaking Latina women who would otherwise not access leadership education.

Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center


Our committee is also providing a $1,000 merit award to Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center based here in Seattle. IPJC is an interfaith non-profit organization that has put together a grassroots community organizing and empowerment program for low-income and underrepresented women through a unique model of organizing called Women’s Justice Circles. Each circle is made up of 10-15 women and meets weekly for eight weeks. Their focus is on identifying a common justice issue, developing collaboration skills, strategies for change and networks for action.

Committee Picture

Prior to our vote for the grant awards, we had a moment of reflection regarding the grant committee’s work over the past 12 weeks. It was heartening to hear how energized and positive committee members were feeling about the process and how many felt humbled and inspired by the amount of work being done by organizations with limited resources. The group enjoyed getting to know each other, and built new relationships between Women’s Funding Alliance and WA Women’s Foundation. We look forward to continuing our education about this women’s civic engagement and leadership, and invite you to learn more about our new grantees!

Thank you to the Emerging Issues Partner Grant Committee: Alison Kilkenny, Alissa Hersch, Amy Corey, Anne Repass, Ara Swanson Merkens, Brooke Walker, Carol Pencke, Donna Lou, Heather Cashman, Jennifer Sik, Lisa Packer, Nancy Elliott, Nicole Stellner, Piper Lauri Salogga, Rebecca Wilson, Tracy Shafer, Yvonne Hall

Claiming Our Right to Not Only Elect, But Be Elected

by Beth McCaw

Since Intersect last Thursday, I’ve been thinking a lot more about sharing power.  However, truthfully it has been on my mind since the 2016 elections, especially knowing that we are nearing the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.  That’s right, we were given the right to vote, thanks to a movement of women and men who demanded that that power be shared with us.

In last week’s elections, women were big winners across the country.  In a few weeks, Seattle will swear in a new female mayor, Jenny Durkan.  It’s only taken the city 91 years to elect a second woman mayor.  When Bertha Knight Landes was elected mayor of Seattle in 1926, she became the first woman to lead a major American city.  Where were the other women in those 91 years?

In terms of women’s political engagement and leadership, the numbers in Washington look pretty good when compared to the rest of the nation.  Women’s Funding Alliance commissioned a study by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research that found:

  • Women’s voter registration and turnout rates are higher than in the nation as a whole. In 2012, 69.9 percent of women aged 18 and older in Washington registered to vote, compared with 67.0 in the nation. More than six in ten women in the state (62.7% percent) went to the polls, compared with 58.5 percent of women in the United States overall.
  • In 2016, Washington ranked fifth in the nation for the number of seats in its state legislature held by women (48 of 147 seats, or 32.7 percent).

Source:  The Status of Women in Washington: Forging New Pathways to Leadership and Economic Opportunity (Institute for Women’s Policy Research & Women’s Funding Alliance 2016).

However, as is often the case when the bar for comparison is set low, Washington’s numbers don’t measure up when we look at representation relative to women’s share of the total population and the historical rate of progress.  The Women’s Funding Alliance Report finds that if progress continues at the current rate, women in Washington will achieve parity in their representation in the state legislature in the year 2038. That further assumes that we don’t lose any ground gained between now and then.

Creating opportunities for women to lead in the civic realm, whether at the grassroots level or in political office, will have long-term impact on our state as a whole. As noted in the Women’s Funding Alliance Report, “Political participation allows women to help shape laws, policies and decision-making in a way that reflects their interests and needs, as well as those of their families and communities.  By running for office, voting, and serving as leaders in their communities, women can make sure their priorities are reflected in public policy decisions and debates.”

Washington Women’s Foundation is committed to amplifying the voices of women, particularly in conversations about important issues facing our communities – climate change, homelessness, gender-based violence, immigration.  To this end, we convened the Emerging Issues Partner Grant Committee this fall and invited our members to examine how to best invest in increasing women’s civic engagement and leadership throughout Washington state.

Through this Committee we are working in direct partnership with Women’s Funding Alliance, using their research and a Request for Proposal they issued to statewide organizations working to prepare women for and position them in civic leadership roles.  Women’s Funding Alliance seeded the Emerging Issues pooled fund with $20,000 and additional contributions have been made by those members of WA Women’s Foundation who are serving on the Committee as well as Laird Norton Wealth Management, a long-time corporate partner of WA Women’s Foundation.

For the first time ever, we have expanded the membership of the Committee – it includes both WA Women’s Foundation members as well as women who are major supporters of Women’s Funding Alliance.  The Committee is being led by WA Women’s Foundation Board member Donna Lou and WFA Board member and WA Women’s Foundation member Jennifer Sik.

Group of Washington Women's Foundation members and Women's Funding Alliance donors

2017 Emerging Issues Partner Grant Committee

Washington Women’s Foundation is a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation.  We know that there is power in our collective and that there is power in partnerships with other values-aligned organizations, corporations and women in our community.  This partnership feels like we are truly living our mission of being more informed, more inclusive and more influential.  But after Intersect I’m also asking how can we share our combined power with the women who will benefit from the grant this Committee awards?

Please join us to continue this conversation and our collective learning at the Emerging Issues Partner Grant Showcase on December 7th.  We’d love to see more members in this movement.

Membership Focus Group Highlights

Letter from the President

Rainier Club

Dear WA Women’s Foundation Members,

We have completed another phase of this year’s strategic planning process, and I wanted to share some results and data points with you today.  Thank you to the members who participated in interviews and focus groups convened for us by Crux Consulting in mid-September.

Focus groups were organized based upon members’ years of membership (3 years or less; between 3 and 10 years, 10+ years of membership). Not surprisingly, many common themes emerged out of the three groups:

  • The Importance and Relevance of Being a Collective of Women
    Participants expressed a strong commitment to women and the need to organize, support, and empower women in today’s political climate – now more than ever.
  • Appreciation and Respect for the Foundation
    Participants shared an appreciation for the personal learning and growth made possible through the Foundation and also for the multiple ways in which they can be involved and engaged in our collective work and learning.  They also expressed pride in the impact of our grants.
  • Change
    Participants expressed a strong curiosity about change and an openness to strategic evolution by the Foundation.  Some shared specific ideas about how the Foundation should change.  Interestingly, for some participants (mainly those who have been members for 3 to 10 years) there was an expressed expectation or need for change.

Participants also were asked, “In your time as a member, what has WA Women’s Foundation done that matters?”  Again, there were some common themes:

  • The Foundation Has Made Impactful Grants
    The impact was described as twofold – both the dollars we give away (“giving away a lot of money strategically”) and the visibility our grants bring to organizations and issues.  It also was noted that “the Foundation takes risks with who we fund.”
  • The Foundation Has Contributed to Personal Learning 
  • The Foundation Has Helped Build Personal Relationships & Community 
  • The Foundation Has Given Women a Voice

When asked what they would like to see change or evolve through this next strategic plan, participants identified the diversification of our membership, specifically to include more women of color, and tools to tell our collective story better out in the community.

The Board of Directors had a full day meeting in late September to review the focus group data and begin working on the specific elements of our strategic plan.  At that meeting, the Board also reflected sentiments similar to those of the focus groups:

  • A commitment to elevating or amplifying the power of women; and
  • A belief that women are a powerful force for change.

While we are still in the early stages this planning process, we are still committed to having a new strategic plan in place shortly after the Board’s annual retreat, which will occur next March. We also are committed to reporting on our progress on a regular basis and including as many members as we can in different aspects of the process. So there’s more to come.

IMG_1974Fortunately, it hasn’t been all work and no fun this fall at WA Women’s Foundation.  Over the course of just a few weeks we hosted two luncheons.

The first luncheon was for our Founding Members.  Did you know that of the initial investors of WA Women’s Foundation (members who joined in the fall of 1995 and spring of 1996), 60 are still active members of the Foundation today? These women have truly been a powerful force for change!

IMG_2739The second luncheon was for members celebrating their “five year anniversaries” as members.  No, John Floberg, Executive Director of Washington State Parks Foundation has not been a member of WA Women’s Foundation for five years!  However, he has been a member of our Impact Assessment Committee for 2 years, and as his organization received a grant from WA Women’s Foundation in the year that this class of members joined our collective, we invited him to share lunch and stories of the impact of our grant with us.

Looking at the women in these photographs, I feel confident about our fearless future, because I know that it is rooted in the ground-breaking spirit that has always been a part of our DNA. I’m curious to see where it takes us next.  Thank you for your membership in our collective and your commitment to ensuring that the Foundation remains a dynamic, women-powered force for change in our community.  We’re on this journey together!

With gratitude,
Beth McCaw, President, Washington Women’s Foundation