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

Advertisements

My Internship Experience at Washington Women’s Foundation

by Mika Day, WA Women’s Foundation Summer Intern 2017

As a college student, beginning a summer internship for the first time can seem like a very daunting task. Oftentimes around your circle of friends, you hear of experiences where someone nails an internship at a company of their dreams, only to be stuck getting coffee and carrying boxes of paperwork all summer. Due to these horror stories, I came into my internship this summer at Washington Women’s Foundation with an open mind, not entirely knowing what I was going to encounter.

GiveFest Photo

To my pleasant surprise, from the second I walked into the 2100 building and began working at Washington Women’s Foundation, I felt welcome by both the staff and the members of the Foundation. Working here throughout the summer, I soon discovered that the staff is full of incredibly hard-working, confident, intelligent women who carry a real passion for what they do. The work environment at the office is extraordinarily collaborative, dynamic, and fun because people who work here truly enjoy what they do and who they do it with. With this, the staff is also constantly looking for ways to make the Foundation better by evaluating the way that they do things and thinking of more innovative ways to do them in the future in order to widen the Foundation’s scope of influence. Their care for their grantees, their members, and for their non-profit work exudes through their dedicated and tireless efforts. Additionally, the women who work at WA Women’s Foundation are exceptionally focused on making their programming and events great experiences for their members, where women can both learn and expand their mind while formulating close-knit social relationships with other members. The relationship between the staff and the members of the Foundation are a large part of what makes the Foundation thrive, as both groups are steered toward the same goal of addressing the needs of the people, all while strengthening communities in Washington State.

mika

Being an intern at WA Women’s Foundation, I found myself to be an integral part of helping the Foundation achieve these goals. From sitting in and learning about DEI topics in Discovery Days Committee meetings to helping the staff organize letters of inquiry from various non-profits across the state, my duties as an intern were varied and exciting. My wide-ranging set of tasks that I had everyday opened my eyes to what working for a non-profit looks like and made my experience the well-rounded one that it was. Throughout my time here I have learned so much about the non-profit industry, the collective-giving model, the grant-making process, DEI, and many other topics all while learning other valuable skills like data-inputting, maintaining paper and digital organizational systems, events management, communication practices, Excel work, Salesforce basics, and general office and organizational skills. I value the talents and abilities I learned here so much as I can take them into my future endeavors as both a student and a future young professional in the workplace.

In conclusion, spending the summer as an intern at Washington Women’s Foundation was far from the coffee-grabbing and file-copying experience that I feared. My time here was so much more valuable than that. What I enjoyed the most about my internship is that I never felt like just an intern here. The work that I was doing felt important, the things that I learned felt unique to the Foundation, and colleagues at WA Women’s Foundation became friends and mentors. I leave this summer holding the staff and the members of WA Women’s Foundation in the highest regard and I hope that one day I can, in some way, shape, or form, be a part of the important work that they do at the Foundation every day.

Mika Day grew up in Redmond, and will be a junior this fall at Chapman University, where she is studying Business Administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and a minor in Women’s Studies

Membership Focus Groups

Rainier ClubLetter from the President

Dear WA Women’s Foundation Members,

As the summer comes to an end, the next phase of our strategic planning process is beginning.  As you will recall, in May we invited all of our members to complete an online survey.  More than 150 members took the time to complete the survey, and I shared a summary of the responses with you in my June President’s Letter.

Over the summer, the Board of Directors convened a Strategic Planning Task Force that is assisting us in determining what data we need from members and the community, how to make the process as member-inclusive as possible, and how to best structure discussions at the Board level.  The Task Force is being chaired by our Board Chair, Grace Chien, and meets on a monthly basis.  Many thanks the following members who are serving on the Strategic Planning Task Force:  Board members Jodi Green and Carrie George, Pooled Fund Grant Committee Chair Susan Heikkala, Patricia Kiyono, Jill McGovern and Julie Stein.

We also had a second task force meeting over the summer.  Earlier this year, thanks to the advocacy of our Board member Bo Lee, WA Women’s Foundation received a $30,000 grant from Bo’s employer, BNY Mellon, to launch a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative at the Foundation.  The grant did not lay out specific requirements or guidelines for this initiative, so our Board of Directors convened a second task force to research options, discuss opportunities and make a recommendation to the Board that could be folded into our strategic plan. Grace Chien, our Board Chair, also chairs this task force, which will be continuing to meet over the next few months.  Again, thanks to the following members who are serving on the DEI Task Force:  Board members Cherry Banks, Donna Lou, Martha Kongsgaard, and Bo Lee, and at-large members Maura Fallon and Diankha Linear.

1August Meeting

As part of the next phase of data collection for our strategic plan, our consultants Tara Smith and Barbara Grant of Crux Consulting are conducting staff and individual member interviews.  In addition, they will be convening member focus groups in mid-September.  Many members volunteered to join in these conversations, and we have arranged the focus group participants in separate sessions based upon their years of membership (3 years or less; between 3 and 10 years, 10+ years of membership). To those of you who volunteered for the interviews and focus groups, our deepest thanks.  We appreciate your commitment to the Foundation and your interest in helping us craft a vision for our future.

Aviva Stampfer, our Grants Program Manager, is also working with the Strategic Planning Task Force and has developed an online survey that we are going to send to all of our past grantees.  We are interested in hearing their opinions about the process of applying to WA Women’s Foundation for funding.  As a learning collective, we are always interested in process improvement.  We know that the grants application process is time-intensive and for smaller nonprofit organizations, can be a drain on already limited resources.  If you attended the first day of Discovery Days 2015, you may recall our speaker Vu Le encouraging funders to look at their grant making processes to determine whether they are “stacking the deck” against certain organizations, especially small, grassroots organizations serving communities of color and led by people of color.  We think it would be helpful to know this about our processes.  In addition, we are sensitive to the fact that an intensive process is often a barrier to a Foundation’s ability to be nimble and responsive to urgent and critical community needs.  If we want to increase our impact, we may need to become more nimble.

2

The grantee survey also is a vehicle for collecting more data that we haven’t necessarily collected in a systematic way in the past.  Obtaining this data will allow us to complete a “gap analysis” to better understand what issues, communities and geographic areas we have traditionally funded and which we have not.  This analysis will help us better define what impact we have had in the past as we think about what impact and influence we want to have in the future.

The Board of Directors has a full day meeting in September to review the survey, interview and focus group data.  I will make a report at the Annual Meeting of the Membership, which will be held on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at noon in the 2100 Building. I do hope you will join us.  Click here to register for the Annual Meeting.  Our goal is to have a new strategic plan in place shortly after the Board’s annual retreat, which will occur next March.  As I mentioned in my previous President’s Letter, our overarching goal is create a plan to make the culture of the Foundation more inclusive, our educational programming more informative and our influence and impact more transformational. Thank you for helping us by sharing your thoughts and your vision for the future of WA Women’s Foundation.  Our collective thinking and action makes the Foundation stronger.

With Gratitude,

Beth McCaw, President, WA Women’s Foundation

IAC Year-End Report: Reflecting on Our Impact

Did you know that while the IAC may not be as visible as our Grant Committees, it is by far our largest committee with over fifty members participating on any given year? Why so many? We follow fifteen grantees— each of our annual five recipients— for 3 years with 3 to 5 members on each grantee team.

The Impact Assessment Committee’s charge is to “monitor the progress of Foundation Pooled Grants, communicate the impact of these grants to the Foundation’s membership, provide feedback to the Grant Committee and seek to strengthen the relationships with the Foundation’s grantees.”

A cohort of Executive Directors representing a wide range of our past grantees form a key part of the IAC, providing valuable insight into the challenges of operating a nonprofit.  Our deepest thanks to these Executive Directors who shared their time and expertise with us:  Brian Knowles (Bailey-Boushay House, 2012 Health Grantee); Daniel Petersen (Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, 2012 Arts & Culture Grantee); John Floberg (WA State Parks Foundation 2013 Environment Grantee); Kelly Stockman McKee (Friends of the Children, 2008 Education Grantee); Stan Ledington (The Health Center, 2013 Health Grantee); Jorge Barón (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, 2013 Human Services Grantee); John Bradshaw (Seattle Shakespeare Company, 2011 Arts & Culture Grantee); and Helen McGovern-Pilant (Emergency Food Network, 2010 Human Services Grantee).

At meetings, the Impact Assessment Committee focuses its discussion primarily on four key areas:

  • Organizational accomplishments with our grants;
  • Challenges faced and lessons learned;
  • Financial health and leadership stability;
  • Themes and trends that cross all five areas of our funding.

In addition to looking for sector trends that can better inform our work, IAC also is curious about the trends in our own grant making.  Which communities are we funding, and where?  Which groups of individuals are being served by the grants we make?  Where are gaps?  In response to these questions, our staff will be conducting an internal trends analysis over the summer, and we will publish those results in the early fall.

The following are highlights of what the Impact Assessment Committee observed and learned this past year:

  • Organizational change is inevitable. Successful organizations have the resilience to navigate change and manage adversity. In the future, members serving on the Grant Committee may want to consider if there are ways to assess an organization’s resilience, especially if unexpected change could prevent the organization from achieving goals related to our grant.
  • Partnerships are key to solving complex issues. If we’re funding an organization that needs to build partnerships to achieve its goals, we should consider the organization’s ability to build those partnerships.  Does that organization have the clout or reputation to build effective partnerships?  Why is it uniquely qualified?  Does it have the capacity to be the catalyst?
  • Sometimes United Way funding does matter. We don’t always have to fund organizations that also receive a lot of traditional institutional funding.  In fact, we often pride ourselves on being the first foundation funder that other institutional funders follow.  However, as the IAC learned from some of the Executive Directors on the Committee, in certain communities in particular, the lack of United Way support is an indicator of risks and challenges that we should fully understand and appreciate before making a funding decision.
  • Executive Directors suffer from serious burnout, which leads to turnover, and fundraising is often the greatest contributing factor, especially in small to mid-size organizations. Multi-year grants of general operating support help, but the sector needs more of these.  Capacity-building grants are also critical.  WA Women’s Foundation can help address this troubling issue by continuing to award grants of general operating support and investing in capacity-building.
  • Political events impact our grantees and their success. Uncertainty in funding sources can be a source of stress, especially for organizations that rely on federal grants. We can support our grantees by checking in with them about this topic throughout our relationship with them.

Through site visits and annual reports, we hear stories from our grantees about their triumphs and challenges. We share these occasionally in our weekly newsletters, highlight them on our Facebook page, and also would like to share some recent updates with you here.

Terrain Photo 3

Terrain, 2016 Arts & Culture Grantee

In their Annual report, Terrain shared that our “operating grant has helped build our capacity and deepen the roots that firmly plant Terrain as THE arts organization focusing on Spokane’s cultural vibrancy, creative economy, and artistic innovation.” They have hired staff to transition from being an all-volunteer run organization, launched new programs to cultivate the creative economy in Spokane, and continue to attract bigger and bigger crowds to their events.

eRP_FEPPS_048.jpg

Freedom Education Project Puget Sound, 2015 Education Grantee

FEPPS has had incredible success since the beginning of our grantee relationship. They shared, “In 2016 we had 4 graduates with Associate of Arts degrees.  In June 2017, we had 19 graduates, which was covered in the Seattle Times.  In 2018, we have over 30 women on track to graduate. All of our 12 alumni who have released from prison are enrolled in two and four-year colleges and universities upon release.” Additionally, they are working to increase advising for their students and hope to launch a BA program within the program soon.

WWT.PNGWashington Water Trust, 2016 Environment Grantee

WWT is growing strategically, and shared that our support “has given staff and leadership the flexible time to delve more deeply into professional development, creative and strategic thinking that will bring innovative solutions into focus”. WWT hired their first Investments and Partnership Officer in November 2016, built a customer relationship management system, and continues to expand into more geographic regions across the state.

whidbey_650_0.jpgForefront, 2015 Health Grantee

Our grant to Forefront was focused on bringing suicide prevention programming and support services to rural communities in Washington, and that’s exactly what they’ve done. In two years they’ve reached six rural counties, training hundreds of health and school professionals and individuals in suicide prevention. In a recent blog post, Jennifer Barron reflected “The WA Women’s Fdn grant is very community-focused. It made it possible to have collaborations with cross-sections of communities, to ask: “what can we do?”

Pillar -6691_-Edit.jpg

Amara, 2015 Human Services Grantee

In a recent report, Amara shared that “Since opening in December 2014, the King County sanctuary has provided a warm, home-like environment for more than 460 children.” Grandese’s Place (as the Emergency Sanctuary is known) helps decrease stress for children in transition to foster care, and has 118 trained volunteers. Amara continues to grow this successful program; in December 2016 they opened another emergency sanctuary, this time in Pierce County, to address an urgent need from the community.

Interested in serving on the Impact Assessment Committee? Openings will be publicized in the fall.


Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 million in transformative grants that have enabled not-for-profit organizations to improve lives, protect the environment, advance health and education and increase access to the arts throughout Washington state.

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfoundation.org

Membership Survey Results

Rainier Club

Dear Members of WA Women’s Foundation,

In May we invited all of our members to complete an online survey.  The survey collected several important points of data that will be helpful to the Board of Directors and staff as we develop the next strategic plan for the Foundation.  Because more than 150 members took the time to share their thoughts with us, I wanted to highlight some of the survey results.

Membership – Why Join?

The vast majority of the respondents joined WA Women’s Foundation because a friend, family member or colleague is or was a member of the Foundation.  Not only was it one of the factors influencing the decision, it was ranked by about half of the respondents as the most compelling factor.

Of those who indicated that an event was an influencing factor, most mentioned Discovery Days, the Grant Awards Celebration and the Annual Philanthropy Celebration at SAM.  Thanks to those of you who recently attended our Grant Award Celebration at SAM and brought guests with you.  We hope many of them will join the Foundation before the end of the year!

IMG_9751

We also wanted to better understand what women hoped to gain by joining our collective. The following are the top five reasons respondents joined the Foundation:

  • I wanted to learn about important community issues.
  • I wanted to increase the impact of my individual giving.
  • I wanted to meet and work with like-minded women.
  • I wanted to learn about not-for-profit organizations active in my community.
  • I wanted to influence community transformation.

Membership – Why Renew?

The responses indicate that the Foundation is delivering on our promises – women are renewing because we increase the impact of their individual giving and they have learned about important community issues through Washington Women’s Foundation.

What’s Important to You?

We heard once again that having the time to participate is a challenge, especially for working women.  For that reason, we are trying to have fewer events in the morning, host more over the lunch hour and find late afternoon times that are not challenged by traffic. This year, two of the five Pooled Fund Grant Committee Work Groups met in downtown Seattle, and one met at the end of the work day. This fall, we are planning to schedule our Partner Grant Committee meetings in the late afternoon as well.  If you are looking for evening or weekend meeting times, let us know that specifically.  When we have tried some of those in the past, they were not well-attended.

IMG_9683

In terms of our grant making, the survey respondents told us it was very important that we make five $100,000 grants each year and that we give $2,000 Merit Awards to each of the 5 organizations not selected for the 5 Pooled Fund Grants. In fact, many comments encouraged us to increase the size of the Merit Awards.  This could be a possibility, depending upon your financial support of the Foundation.  This was the first year that member contributions fully funded the Merit Awards; in past years, the Board has used operating reserves to fund the awards at the current level.

Values – Collaboration, Connection, Education, Equality, Impact, Inclusiveness & Leadership

Like our Board of Directors, the survey respondents had a very difficult time ranking our organizational values, especially since they have not been specifically defined.  When the Board ranked the values, their top three were:

  • Impact
  • Inclusiveness
  • Collaboration

When members were asked to rank the values in order of importance to their experience as a member of the Foundation, the top three responses were:

  • Impact
  • Collaboration
  • Education

When asked to rank the values in the order of importance to our mission, survey respondents’ top three values were:

  • Impact – by a significant margin; it was ranked the top by 48% of the respondents
  • Collaboration – also by a fairly significant margin
  • Inclusiveness

A number of respondents commented on the value of “equality,” which was given the lowest ranking each time.  One member noted that equality was important “internally” but that “equity” was a more important “external” value. Another commented on the importance of the concept of “equity” in the fulfillment of our mission.

Next Steps

As many of you who have served on Boards know, the strategic planning process has many phases.  Last year, as we refreshed our brand, we also updated our mission statement.  Next, we’ll be discussing our organizational values and determining a process by which Board members and members can agree upon shared definitions for our values.  Reaching agreement around our values will allow us to make values-based decisions about what goals we want to set and what strategies we will implement to pursue those goals.

We also want to hear more from you as well as from our grantees. At least one survey respondent asked for more “substantive ways” to contribute to the strategic planning process. As we noted when we distributed the survey, we view it as simply the first step and one tool in a process that will take many months. To that end, the Foundation has engaged a strategic planning firm to help us determine how to best involve as many of you in these conversations going forward with the hope of reaching shared agreement about how to make the culture of the Foundation more inclusive, our educational programming more informative and our influence and impact more transformational.

With Gratitude,

Beth McCaw, President, WA Women’s Foundation

And The 2017 Pooled Fund Grantees Are…

Yesterday, Washington Women’s Foundation members named five organizations to each receive a $100,000 grant from the Foundation’s Pooled Fund, totaling $500,000. In the 22 years since the Foundation’s inception, our members have influenced transformation in communities across Washington State by collectively granting over $17 million. We are delighted to introduce you to this year’s WA Women’s Foundation Grantees and Merit Award Winners!

2017 Pooled Fund Grant Award Winners

Copy of 12244256_1108079419211650_6388223093394342773_oArts & Culture: The Seattle Globalist
The Seattle Globalist is a daily online publication that covers the connections between local and global issues here in Seattle. They highlight diverse voices and train the next generation of media makers. Our funding will help them continue 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.

 

west seattle outdoor preschoolers exploring fungus.jpgEducation: Tiny Trees Preschool
Tiny Tree’s mission is to use outdoor classrooms to make a quality education in reading, math and science affordable for families and to give children a joyful, nature rich childhood – one full of play, exploration and wonder. Our  funding will help them continue 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.

 

RF Workshop BC.jpgEnvironment: ReUse Works
ReUse Works was founded on the simple premise that there is economic opportunity in both the products and the people that our society has discarded. Our funding will help them continue to increase the Ragfinery program’s capacity to provide job training services, sustainable textile recycling, educational outreach about textile waste, and inspiration for creative reuse, while moving Ragfinery toward economic self-sufficiency.

 

IMG_2006 (2)Health: FEEST
FEEST empowers low income youth and youth of color in White Center and Delridge to become leaders for healthy food access, food justice and health equity. They organize 40-45 high school youth once a week to cook an improvised dinner using fresh vegetables from local markets. These community dinners serve as a pipeline to recruit and develop emerging food justice leaders for their year-long internship program. Interns develop and implement campaigns that seek to increase access to healthy foods for students and their families. Our general operating funding will support this work and the continued implementation of their ambitious strategic plan.

 

20150929_BEST_Employers_Alliance_053Human Services: Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking
Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST) aligns and equips leaders to use the power of business to prevent human trafficking. Through training, consultation and collaboration, they work with businesses to drive behavioral change and improve the lives of the victims involved. Our funding will help them continue to reduce trafficking in our region by changing the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors that enable human trafficking to flourish.

 

2017 Merit Award Winners

Washington Women’s Foundation presented a $2,000 Merit Award to each of our other five finalist organizations in recognition of the time, effort and goodwill they invested in our rigorous grant making process. This year’s Merit Award Winners are:

Students on Educational Tour, near The Wing.JPG

Arts & Culture: Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

Wing Luke’s mission is to connect everyone to the rich history, dynamic cultures and art of the Asian Pacific Americans through vivid storytelling and inspiring experiences. Wing Luke aims 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.

 

RVC fellows.jpgEducation: Rainier Valley Corps 

Rainier Valley Corps promotes social justice by cultivating leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities. Their fellowship program recruits, trains, mentors, and supports 10 emerging leaders from diverse communities of color and places them in people of color-led Community Building Organizations to develop the organizations’ capacity.

Spill Kit Training Caption.jpgEnvironment: ECOSS
ECOSS educates and empowers businesses and diverse communities to implement environmentally sustainable practices. ECOSS works 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. 

 

YBB Pic 2

Health: Yoga Behind Bars
Yoga Behind Bars brings yoga and meditation to prisons, jails, and detention centers to promote rehabilitation, personal transformation, and a more just society for all. They work to help to build safer communities and contribute to the reform of the corrections system through trauma–informed yoga and meditation classes at correctional facilities throughout Washington State. 

It Takes a Village

Human Services: La Casa Hogar

La Casa Hogar’s mission is to connect and educate Latino families, and to transform lives in Yakima Valley. La Casa provides a range of educational opportunities that are specifically suited to the immigrant population in Yakima. Many of these families are at-risk from language, income and education limitations, eroded self-esteem, reduced mobility, few marketable skills, and a scarcity of available resources. Classes offered include English/Spanish literacy, adult basic education, digital inclusion, financial literacy, health education, parenting, pre-school preparation for children, and citizenship education.


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

All women are invited to join our strong and inclusive collective of informed women influencing community transformation. The challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. www.wawomensfoundation.org

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.