by Megan Davies
Director of Programs & Communications, Washington Women’s Foundation
Last week, the Member Engagement Committee of Washington Women’s Foundation hosted a New Member Social to welcome women who became members in the last 12 months. 18 women gathered at the Bellevue home of Member Engagement Committee member Anne Repass to get to know each other better over a glass of wine.
I am always surprised to hear the varied responses when you ask each new group of women, “Why did you join Washington Women’s Foundation?” I can almost guarantee – you’ll never hear the same story twice!
For example, new member LB Kussick joined Washington Women’s Foundation after retiring as the Executive Director of the not-for-profit organization PEPS. LB brought her expertise and valuable perspective to the Pooled Fund Grant Committee this year, and she reported that she was very happy to find that WA Women’s was respectful of the needs and limitations of small not-for-profits.
Here’s another example: new member Shelley Milne worked at Pediatric Interim Care Center when they received WA Women’s Pooled Fund Grant Award in 2002, and she described “falling in love” with the members who attended their Site Visit. 13 years later, Shelley joined. She participated on the Pooled Fund Grant Committee this year and, after 20 years of working in the not-for-profit field, she loved the new perspective she gained by being on the “other side” of the grant making table, as well as the comradery and various perspectives of the committee members.
And one more: Jane Hargraft took a new leadership job at Seattle Symphony in 2011, moving to Seattle from Toronto. She joined Washington Women’s Foundation this year because she wanted to meet more women in the community and because she was impressed with the integrity of WA Women’s grant making process.
We heard many more stories: a professional organizer who joined after sorting several clients’ “WA Women’s Foundation” folders, a former lawyer who joined before she could actively participate because she wanted to be a part of the movement of women’s leadership in philanthropy, an accountant who was ready to branch out of her normal industry social circles, a woman wanting to learn how to give more strategically – and many more.
In the office, we talk about the “secret sauce” of WA Women’s – what is it that engages you, our members, and what keeps us thriving as a collective of philanthropic women? I’m convinced that the secret sauce is our community, created through the opportunity to work collaboratively and learn from women who have diverse experiences, skills and interests.
The Member Engagement Committee and the staff are committed to creating more opportunities for our members to develop relationships with each other and to build a true sense of community and shared purpose within Washington Women’s Foundation.
Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has given out $16 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 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. www.wawomensfoundation.org