Strategic Planning

Rainier Club

by Beth McCaw, President

This year marks the end point of our current strategic plan and thus, brings an opportunity for our Board of Directors to establish new goals and objectives for WA Women’s Foundation.  Because WA Women’s Foundation is your Foundation, we will be asking you to help us with our planning process.  Before doing so, I wanted to report on our progress against our current plan.

When I joined the staff in September 2014, we had just begun the implementation of our 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, which was developed under the leadership of my predecessor. Our strategic plan has three goals:

  • Increase financial strength and sustainability;
  • Engage more women in philanthropy and leadership; and
  • Build our institutional knowledge or community needs and our capacity to respond to them.

To increase financial strength and sustainability, we set a goal of maintaining a solid financial position, now and in the future.  Strategies for doing so included managing our operations in a cost-effective and efficient manner and broadening the base of fundraising support for the Annual Fund and sponsorships.  On the operations side, we performed better than budget in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, much of our success was due to your generous support of our 20th Anniversary Annual Fund Campaign, which exceeded goal by more than $40,000. Did you know?  Members’ $500 annual contribution toward operations covers less than 38% of our operating costs?  The rest is paid for by the Annual Fund, a payout from our endowment and reserves, and, to a very small extent, corporate sponsorships.

In order to engage more women in philanthropy and leadership, we made a commitment to maintain high-quality programming narrowly focused on philanthropy and leadership.  We host more than 40 workshops and events each year. One of our signature events is Discovery Days, and due to the efforts of members Amy Michaels, Nicole Resch, Rosalie Gann, and our entire 2016 Discovery Days Planning Committee, last fall’s event had record attendance.  Our audiences and speakers were our most diverse ever, and this clearly was a program very relevant to its time.

In our 2013 membership survey, you told us that you wanted us to vary the timing and location of our events and programs.  Last year 43% of our events and programs were somewhere other than the 2100 Building, and this year, 2 of our 5 Pooled Fund Work Groups are meeting downtown. We also understand that you want more opportunities to network and build relationships even while working on grant making so more “social” components are being included in almost all of our programming.

We are fortunate to have a 91% member retention rate. However, the number of new members joining declined in 2015 and 2016.  As of December 31, 2016, we had 469 paid members.  Did you know?  We’ve never quite reached the 500 paid member mark.  We have, however, had $500,000 in the pooled fund for several years now, primarily due to additional gifts, including IGRs, designated by members to the pooled fund.  2017 marks the first year in which member contributions also are covering the amount of our Pooled Fund Merit Awards.  Last year, we funded those awards from operations.  Between 2010 and 2016, our cash reserves and operations funded more than $170,000 in grants (Pooled Fund, Merit Awards and Partner Grants).

While the number of members participating on the Pooled Fund Grant Committee has declined the past two years, we are seeing growth in participation on the Partner Grant Committees and increased civic engagement and leadership by those Committee members.  Members of last fall’s Diversity Partner Grant Committee continue to personally contribute and raise funds for TEACH, a higher education program run by the Black Prisoners Caucus at Clallam Bay Correction Center.  Members also are engaged in ongoing advocacy in support of Washington CAN’s efforts to reform the Legal Financial Obligations and parole systems in Washington state.

In order to build our institutional knowledge of community needs and our capacity to respond to them, we are looking for opportunities to build new partnerships and deeper relationships with other philanthropic organizations.  Last fall, we partnered with the Social Justice Fund for the first time, and this fall, we partnering again with Women’s Funding Alliance. We also are participating in the Central Washington Conference for the Greater Good in Yakima next week. I will be meeting with Yakima nonprofit leaders and well as women from the Yakima area who are interested in collective grant making, trying to extend our reach into Eastern Washington.

We also have increased our engagement with our own network – the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network.  Board members Laura Midgely and Kathy Edwards joined me in presenting at the Network’s National Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, last month.  Colleen Willoughby was on a plenary panel and member Jackie Bezos gave the keynote on the first evening of the conference. Board member Bo Lee and former Board member Alison Wilson also attended. Did you know? Washington Women’s Foundation is the oldest collective grant making organization in the country and while we are still leading in terms of dollars granted each year, many of the other organizations within the Network have memberships very close to the size of ours.

Beyond the goals of our strategic plan, it’s important to note that all together collective giving and grant making organizations are having an impact on women’s philanthropy, which has now been studied and documented by researchers at The Center on Philanthropy at the University of Indiana.  We are achieving the vision originally set for us by our founders – to change the course of women’s philanthropy through the power of collective giving. Our own data support the conclusion that the collective giving model of Washington Women’s Foundation has changed the course of women’s philanthropy over the past 20+ years.

So what comes next? This is the question that our Board of Directors is considering as we begin working on our next strategic plan and as this conversation begins, we hope to hear from you. We are planning on sending a few short surveys to the full membership to better understand what more you want to learn, what experiences and opportunities you hope WA Women’s Foundation will make possible for you, and what relationships and networks are important for you to build to support your philanthropy and community engagement. 

Two decades ago, our founders saw an opportunity to create something new – the result was an innovative, inclusive model of women-powered philanthropy. Now that we’ve become a model for others around the country, how can we challenge ourselves – and others – to up our game? Thank you for your membership and thank you for helping us continue to move boldly forward.

Final 15: Pooled Fund Grants 2017

We’re excited to share another update in the Pooled Fund grant making process! Over 60 members have selected 15 Washington State not-for-profits to receive site visits.

Below are this year’s Final 15 organizations:

ARTS & CULTURE

Pongo Publishing: To break the cycle of trauma both for incarcerated youth and for adults suffering from substance abuse and long-term homelessness through the power of creative expression and mentorship.

The Seattle Globalist: To break down the barriers of entry into media for women and people of color, offering mentorship, guidance and connections as a powerful launchpad for new voices in Seattle.

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience: To create more informed citizens, especially around issues of civil and constitutional rights, immigration, labor history and refugees, through the development of an Asian Pacific American history curriculum, web portal and teacher training.

EDUCATION

Rainier Valley Corps: To amplify the voices of communities of color in policy-making decisions by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening the capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits and creating space for collaboration between diverse communities to effect systemic change.

Tiny Trees Preschool: To respond to the soaring costs of childcare and its disproportionate effects on low-income families and communities of color by leading the movement for affordable, high quality preschool.

Parenting in Prison: Evaluating an Intervention for Incarcerated Mothers and their Infants (a project of UW Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences): To improve parenting capacity of incarcerated mothers and strengthening the mother-child attachment to promote positive developmental outcomes.

ENVIRONMENT

ECOSS: To advance environmental equity by providing multicultural environmental outreach, engagement, resources and technical assistance to businesses and communities in the Puget Sound Region that encourage urban redevelopment and a healthy environment.

PCC Farmland Trust: To preserve land, feed local communities and grow businesses in Pierce County by connecting new and expanding farmers with land opportunities.

ReUse Works: To reduce both waste and unemployment in Whatcom county by providing the skills, tools, materials and resources needed to divert textiles from waste to supplies and upcycled goods.

HEALTH

Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team (FEEST): To increase health in communities of color by raising up youth leaders who can educate their peers and families about healthy eating, while simultaneously advocating for systemic change that increases access to healthy foods.

Kindering Center: To respond creatively to increased demand and urgency for vital therapies and interventions through remote audio/video sessions for children with disabilities who are unable to receive services in-person or at home.

Yoga Behind Bars: To promote rehabilitation, help to build safer communities and contribute to reform of the corrections system through trauma–informed yoga and meditation classes at correctional facilities throughout Washington State.

HUMAN SERVICES

Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking: To reduce trafficking in our region by changing the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors that enable human trafficking to flourish.

La Casa Hogar: To combat the leadership gap among Latina women in the Yakima Valley using a culturally and linguistically competent model that has proved effective to build leadership skills within the Latina/o community.

Sound Outreach: To help build wealth among Pierce County’s unbanked and underbanked consumers by providing low-cost, low risk financial products to people who otherwise could not qualify.


10 Organizations To Consider for Individual Support

The following organizations submitted full proposals for consideration in the Pooled Fund Grant process. Though these organizations did not advance to receive Site Visits, we hope that you will consider supporting them individually. A great way to increase your impact is by donating through Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig campaign on May 10.

  • Intiman Theatre: To challenge the notion that the American theater industry is a white institution by creating and strengthening a pipeline of up-and-coming, diverse artists who are capable of contributing nontraditional viewpoints to the cultural capital of King County.
  • ProForum: To forge creative alliances with diverse communities, bring inspiring film making to new audiences and make the art of film making an integral part of social change through Seattle’s only Social Justice Film Festival.
  • Greater Seattle Techbridge: To close the wage and opportunity gap for girls, particularly under-represented minorities in low-income communities, by building girls’ interest – and confidence – to pursue STEM pathways.
  • OneAmerica: To increase immigrant families’ economic mobility and students’ success rates by removing barriers to immigrant parents’ school engagement through contextualized instruction in English language acquisition and digital literacy.
  • Front and Centered: To address the disproportionate impact of climate change and environmental degradation on communities of color and low-income people by advocating, educating, engaging and mobilizing communities of color throughout Washington State.
  • Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility: To reduce the threat of nuclear war by using health-based advocacy and developing a broad West Coast coalition to encourage members of Congress to maintain the international ban on nuclear testing.
  • HopeSparks: To reduce the access gap for mental health services in Pierce County by providing more high-quality services for low-income families that would otherwise have no place else to turn to address their family’s mental health needs.
  • University of Washington Foundation – MOMCare: To improve the care of pregnant women on Medicaid, especially those facing antenatal depression, through an evidence-based treatment program that helps reduce depression during pregnancy, prevents postpartum depression and improves parenting and social functioning.
  • Room One: To address a primary barrier to financial stability and family well being in the Methow Valley by creating a collaboratively developed childcare center that integrates wrap-around support for families.
  • Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence: To improve housing stability, health and well-being among Native survivors of abuse and their children and to establish evidence to influence policy, practice and funding nationwide.

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 21 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 $16 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 studies ~300 Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and prioritizes 25 to move forward to submit proposals.
  • March/April – Proposals: The Grant Committee evaluates 25 formal proposals and selects 15 organizations to receive site visits.
  • 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 large impact Pooled Fund Grant Awards of $100,000. The grantees are announced at our Grant Award Celebration on Tuesday, June 13.  Mark your calendar now to join us at this special event to be held at the Seattle Art Museum.

Washington Women’s Foundation is a strong and inclusive collective of informed women who together influence community transformation.  We do this through:

  • individual and collective discovery,
  • high-impact grant making,
  • and respecting and listening to all voices in our community.

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