Our New Visual Identity, Part 1

 

Rainier Clubby Beth McCaw, President

Last week, I shared with you how we arrived at a new mission statement for Washington Women’s Foundation. The same process informed our adoption of a new brand for the Foundation.

An organization’s mission statement is the leading verbal representation of its brand identity.

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.
Through high-impact grant making.
By listening to and respecting all voices in our community.

A brand also is represented verbally by key messages, traits, attributes and attitudes that weave together into a narrative of the organization. That narrative tells our story to the community at-large.

Brand identity also includes a visual element. A visual element on its own carries no meaning – at least not initially. For example, the Nike “Swoosh” was just a “Swoosh” in the beginning. But over many years, it has evolved into an iconic image that on its own, tells a compelling story. The black and white panda does the same for the “other WWF” – the World Wildlife Fund.

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In the membership survey that we conducted earlier this year, you told us that you were ready for change.  You felt that:

  • Our old mission had been accomplished.
  • We are ready to seek new challenges.
  • We need to evolve our messaging and our look to reflect the Foundation of today.

So, as I detailed in my President’s Letter last week, we’ve been working on that.

To honor the legacy and spirit of the women who founded Washington Women’s Foundation and to reflect our current membership and our new mission statement, our Brand Research Work Group agreed that the visual brand identity of Washington Women’s Foundation must be:

Influential * Engaging * Groundbreaking * Brave * Generous

There also were certain key attributes that needed to be captured:

Challenge * Transformation * Impact

We decided also that it was time to leave “WWF” behind and find a new way to visually represent the Foundation’s current attitude and its attributes.

After spending our 20th Anniversary year at WA Women’s Foundation collecting input, asking questions, probing for deeper understanding of our members and gaining greater clarity about what is important to you and to our community, we are poised to begin planning for the next 20 years of WA Women’s Foundation. We are excited to be led by an updated mission statement and a refreshed narrative, both of which underscore our continued relevance and challenge us to build upon the strength of our community of women to evolve in such a way as to wield even greater influence in our community.

We also are excited to unveil a new logo for the Foundation. But to see that, you will have to attend the Annual Meeting of the Membership on October 26, 2016!

I hope that you will join us for this very “special edition” of our Annual Meeting next week. We’ll be honoring our past; you don’t want to miss the purse display – remember, when we were all about “The Power of the Purse?”

I’ll also report on what is still working so well at WA Women’s Foundation today – there’s a lot and it’s because of you! Change is in the air this fall, but Washington Women’s Foundation is still your Foundation. Thank you for being a member.


Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 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

Unveiling The New Mission Statement for WA Women’s Foundation

Rainier Club

by Beth McCaw, President

It’s hard to believe that I recently celebrated my second anniversary as President of Washington Women’s Foundation. When I was hired in the Foundation’s 19th year, the Board of Directors charged me with setting the course for the Foundation’s future. You can’t get to “Point B” if you don’t know your starting point, “Point A,” so I spent most of my first year trying to understand the Foundation’s Point A.

What did I discover? 

I learned that much of the narrative about Washington Women’s Foundation, including the community’s perceptions of us as well as our own mission statement and logo, didn’t align with who we are today. Before helping us set our sights on the future, I felt like we needed this alignment.

What did we do? 

When I discussed my findings with the Board of Directors, they agreed that it was time to refresh and update the look of Washington Women’s Foundation. We formed a Brand Research Work Group and hired a brand design and research firm. Megan Davies (Director of Communications & Programs) and I served on the Work Group along with Board Chair Martha Kongsgaard, Cabinet Chair Barbara Fielden and two “at-large” members, Bo Lee and Nicole Resch. 

Our research firm first interviewed representatives of our staff, Board and membership. The firm also reviewed our current brand, including marketing materials and our website, as well as the brand positioning of our “competitors.”

What did we learn? 

We learned from these interviews that our organizational culture is a key differentiator – the community experience within the membership is highly valued and there is a great deal of trust in our membership and in our grant making process. Our community not only attracts new members, it is a key factor in retention. In addition, interviewees made special note of:

  • The caliber of the women in our membership;
  • The intellectual rigor of our conversations; and
  • Our shared attitude of openness and curiosity.

There was one difference of opinion:

  • Younger members especially expressed a concern that WA Women’s Foundation would need to evolve to attract other young women and more diverse women.

Next the research firm interviewed prospective, current and lapsed members as well as a few philanthropic leaders in our community, including our grantees. We learned through these interviews that:

  • While members view our community as open and curious, the lack of membership diversity was identified as an organizational weakness that impacts how the community, including prospective members, views WA Women’s Foundation.
  • Both members and non-members wanted WA Women’s Foundation to update its mission. The current mission was viewed as better describing what the Foundation originally was rather than what it is now, and many members believed that a new, more aspirational mission was needed to align with how they see WA Women’s Foundation – as a “powerful game changer.”

Previous Mission Statement:
The Washington Women’s Foundation educates, inspires and increases the number of women committed to philanthropy in order to strengthen community and demonstrate the impact that can result from informed, focused grant making.

The final research step was an online survey of the full membership conducted over the course of two weeks this past January and February. 275 members completed the survey! We were pleased to see that the participants include a good cross-section of our membership, newer members as well as 10+ members, younger members, more engaged members and members who simply contribute and vote.

Through the survey, you told us that you agreed with and thought the following were the most important aspects of WA Women’s Foundation:

  • Washington Women’s Foundation educates members on important issues.
  • Washington Women’s Foundation focuses attention on critical issues.
  • Washington Women’s Foundation is open to all women who wish to become members.
  • Washington’s Women’s Foundation is a community of strong women.

We also learned that you were ready for Washington Women’s Foundation to change and take on new challenges. You expressed a desire for the Foundation to challenge you to engage in bold and transformational giving, to focus attention on often overlooked issues and to become an even more inclusive community of women.

During both rounds of interviews and in the membership survey, we tested concepts, themes and words to inform the revision of our mission statement and the development of our new brand. We learned that you supported many of the same values as the Board of Directors and our Brand Research Work Group.

After nine months and many, many, many drafts, the Board of Directors adopted a new mission statement for WA Women’s Foundation.

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.

  • Through high-impact grant making.

  • By listening to and respecting all voices in our community.

The statement is grounded in our history of collective grant making and education, recognizes the strengths and unique qualities of our members and acknowledges that community change requires a partnership among our members as well as with our community. These are all fundamental tenets of how we do what we do at Washington Women’s Foundation.

So perhaps more importantly, the new mission statement sets firmly before us our greatest aspirations – to become more inclusive as a membership organization, to become more deeply informed about the most pressing issues facing communities throughout Washington state, and to more powerfully wield our collective influence in pursuit of community transformation. These are the challenges of the world as we know it today.

However, because of our history at Washington Women’s Foundation, we know the challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. We are Washington Women’s Foundation.


Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 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

2016 Diversity Partner Grant: Criminal Justice

This fall, Washington Women’s Foundation’s Diversity Partner Grant Committee, co-led by members Ann Kumasaka and Donna Lou, will focus its learning and inquiry on the topic of criminal justice. The 30 members serving on this Committee will fund one or more not-for-profit organizations supporting communities that have borne a historical pattern of discrimination resulting in poverty, vulnerability to mistreatment and economic abuse, and continuing social intolerance. 

As with all committees at Washington Women’s Foundation, this Partner Grant experience provides the opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and skill building workshops, each designed to challenge our members to look beyond their personal perspectives. Participating members will:

  • Better understand systemic and institutional racism, especially within our criminal justice system.
  • Explore their own relationships to privilege and oppression.
  • Come to a shared understanding of the terms “race,” “prejudice,” “bias,” “social justice” and “social justice philanthropy.”
  • Become better allies and more informed philanthropists.
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2016 Diversity Partner Grant Committee – a record number of participants!

Why Criminal Justice?

JustMercyIn WA Women’s Foundation’s 2016 Book Discussion selection Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, author Bryan Stevenson wrote, “Criminal justice in America sometimes seems more criminal than just — replete with error, malfeasance, racism and cruel, if not unusual, punishment, coupled with stubborn resistance to reform and a failure to learn from even its most glaring mistakes.” Read more about the Book Discussion here.
Racial profiling, the school-to-prison pipeline, and policies and practices that may seem race-neutral have contributed to a criminal justice system that disproportionately targets people of color and poor people. Nationally, an African-American person is 5 times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated. In Washington State, African-Americans are 5.5 times as likely; Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans are 3 times as likely; and Hispanics/Latinxs are 1.5 times as likely as whites to be in prison. The Committee will seek to better understand the institutional and systemic reasons for these disproportionate outcomes and ways not-for-profit organizations are working to address them.

Our Partner: Social Justice Fund Northwest

social-justice-fund-nwEach Partner Grant Committee benefits from the expertise of a fellow community grant maker, and we are excited to announce a new partnership withSocial Justice Fund Northwest (SJF). Like us, SJF is a member-funded, member-led grant making organization. SJF fosters significant, long-term social justice solutions throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Participating SJF members engage in a deep process of learning about race, class, fundraising and social change. SJF supports organizations that are led by people from the communities most impacted by injustice and inequality.

Join Us to Celebrate

Our Diversity Partner Grant Showcase will be held Tuesday, December 13, 10 – 11:30 a.m. This is a great opportunity to learn from fellow members, our partner grant maker and our grant award winner! Read more and register here.

Resources To Learn More

We have more resources available in the Washington Women’s Foundation offices – please contact us to receive more.


Through our groundbreaking model of women-powered, collective philanthropy, Washington Women’s Foundation has awarded $16 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

Welcome New WA Women’s Members!

Each year, nearly fifty new women join the movement of women’s leadership in philanthropy at WA Women’s Foundation, contributing to our collective influence.

Building on WA Women’s core organizational value of “inclusiveness,” we want to make sure that each new member feels welcomed, connected to our mission and prepared to engage in our programs and committees whenever her schedule allows.

New Program: WA Women’s Ambassadors

In order to help new members engage with WA Women’s Foundation, the Member Engagement Committee is excited to announce the launch of our new Ambassadors Program.

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Some of our WA Women’s Ambassadors!

WA Women’s Foundation’s Member Engagement Committee has offered to act as our inaugural Ambassadors. When a new member joins, she will be matched with an Ambassador. Over the course of that new member’s first year with WA Women’s Foundation, the Ambassador will:

  • Send welcome emails and set up phone calls to answer membership questions
  • Connect personally by inviting her to coffee or lunch to talk about engagement with WA Women’s Foundation
  • Invite her to and host her at upcoming Foundation events, including WA Women’s New Member Social in late Spring

Want To Connect With a WA Women’s Ambassador?

If you’ve joined the Foundation in the past year and are interested in being paired with an Ambassador, please contact Emily Feicht at emily@wawomensfoundation.org or 206.407.2175.

Want To Be a WA Women’s Ambassador?

Being a WA Women’s Ambassador is a great way to connect with more members and show off your passion for WA Women’s Foundation!

If you are interested in being an Ambassador, please contact Emily at emily@wawomensfoundation.org or 206.407.2175 for more information. We ask that all new Ambassadors join the Member Engagement Committee.

Thank You to Our 2016-2017 Ambassadors

Denise Allan
Electa Anderson
Jan Anderson
Marcia Bailey
Amy Corey
Frances Costigan
Alice Cunningham
Mary-Ellen Diorio
Betty Drumheller
Nancy Elliott
Julia Gibson
Sharon Hammel
Jean Kelly
Carol Madigan
Liz McGrath
Anne Repass
Deborah Wakefield
Pat Walker


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

Member Reflections: Seattle Center Outing

July 21st was a beautiful summer day in Seattle. 30 WA Women’s Foundation members gathered at Seattle Center for the unique experience of visiting 3 past grant recipients on their home turf:

Intiman Theatre, 2016 Merit Award Winner, hosted us for a lunch where members connected with Intiman’s diverse summer cohort of Emerging Artists. The Intiman Emerging Artists are 70% people of color and 60% identified as female. More on the program in the reflections below.

The Vera Project, 2006 Pooled Fund Grant Award Winner, led us on a tour of their concert and arts creation space for young people that our grant helped to fund. The Vera Project provides classes, camps and working space for teen and young adult artists to create visual art and music.

Seattle Shakespeare Company, 2011 Pooled Fund Grant Winner, led a discussion about their touring productions our grant funded, which help bring Shakespeare to life for high school students across Washington State – some of whom have never before seen live theater.

Read post-event reflections from two WA Women’s Foundation members below.

Continue reading

A Moment of Opportunity

Rainier Clubby Beth McCaw
President, Washington Women’s Foundation

“[The summer] brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them shock, fear and bewilderment to the nation.” 

Esteemed legal advocate Marian Wright Edelman began her recent Child Watch® column, Unfinished Business, with the quote above. Though it is an excerpt from a report by the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders (the “Kerner Commission Report”) issued after the Commission studied the events of the summer of 1967, Edelman noted that these words could have been written today.

Almost fifty years have passed, and our communities of color are still burdened by racism, poverty, inequity and injustice. Mothers in our own community – women who have joined us at WWF events this past year – have told me how they fear every day for the lives of their black sons. Other mothers are fighting for the rights of their transgender children, for better schools, for access to quality health care, for equal pay.

For over twenty years now, the members of Washington Women’s Foundation have tried to be allies in this struggle, funding responses to urgent and critical needs, bold new ventures and new approaches to ongoing problems. Have we been focused in the right direction?

The Kerner Commission Report concluded by issuing three recommendations:

  • To mount programs on a scale equal to the dimension of the problems;
  • To aim these programs for high impact in the immediate future in order to close the gap between promise and performance;
  • To undertake new initiatives and experiments that can change the system of failure and frustration that […]weakens our society.

The Report stated, “[T]hese programs will require unprecedented levels of funding and performance, but they neither probe deeper nor demand more than the problems which called them forth. There can be no higher priority for national action and no higher claim on the nation’s conscience.

We may be focused in the right direction – making high impact grants and taking strategic risks with the intention of changing the systems of failure in our community. But there is more that we can do and that we should do if we want our community to look dramatically different another fifty years from now. THIS IS A MOMENT OF OPPORTUNITY.

So let’s seize the opportunity by taking action. Because collective action is at the heart of all that we do at Washington Women’s Foundation, last week I joined more than 100 presidents from foundations throughout the United States by adding my name to a campaign spearheaded by Darren Walker, President & CEO of the Ford Foundation. The campaign was publicly launched weekend before last in an advertisement that appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Through the campaign, together, we aim “to encourage people across the country to break through the darkness and find a path toward our ideals of dignity, equality, and justice” by sharing our stories, our #Reasons for Hope.

The Board of Directors of Washington Women’s Foundation also recently pledged to use our collective strength and influence to help convene members of our own community. After the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the Board voted to make a grant from our general funds to help underwrite a summit on the intersection of gun violence and hate crimes to be hosted in Seattle this fall. More information to come on this new grant.

But you can act now.

  • Donate to support your fellow members on our Diversity Partner Grant Committee this fall. The Committee, co-led by WWF members Donna Lou and Ann Kumasaka, will be building on the discussions we had together this spring about institutional racism, sparked by our reading of Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson and our viewings of the third episode of the PBS documentary, Race: The Power of an Illusion. (Read and watch if you haven’t already.)
  • Give to an organization that is working at the intersection of poverty, gender and race.
  • Listen to and respect voices in our community that often go unheard.

These discussions are uncomfortable, the problems are deeply rooted. However, I see complex problems motivating our members every day. When we come together as Washington Women’s Foundation, the challenges ahead of us are never as great as the power behind us. 

THIS IS A MOMENT OF OPPORTUNITY. How will YOU respond to it?


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

Lessons Learned: Assessing the Impact of Our Grants

Rainier Clubby Beth McCaw
President, Washington Women’s Foundation

Did you know that there are men serving on a committee at Washington Women’s Foundation? It’s true – on our Impact Assessment Committee.

Washington Women’s Foundation has been awarding grants since 1996 and has been formally reviewing the impact of those grants since 2003. That year, the Foundation formed its first Impact Assessment Committee “to create an understanding of the impact of our grants both by creating lasting partnerships with grantees and by collecting and maintaining historical records on grant impacts.”

Now, our Impact Assessment Committee works between October and June of each year, conducting post-grant site visits and meeting monthly to share with each other what they have learned. This past year, more than 40 members served on the Committee along with 12 Executive Directors, including 4 men. We invite Executive Directors to join the Committee as they bring expert insights and unique perspectives that further our learning as grant makers. 

Through our impact assessment process, we focus on three things:

  • Developing deeper relationships with our grantees
  • Learning about their successes and challenges
  • Identifying themes and trends that cross all five of our funding areas.

By communicating what the Impact Assessment Committee learns each year to the leadership of the Pooled Fund Grant Committee, we hope that we are becoming smarter and more strategic in our collective decision-making.

Each year we try to improve the way that we communicate these learnings to our broader membership. Our hope is that an upgrade to our website may help facilitate that in the future. In the meantime, here is feedback from the 2015-2016 Impact Assessment Committee:

  • We applaud the increased diversity that we’re seeing among grantees – geography and populations served, specifically.
  • Continue to look for grassroots investment opportunities and new organizations that have never sought funding from us before but also don’t forget about larger, established institutions with innovative ideas or projects that only private philanthropy can fund.
  • While WWF is beginning to fund more organizations outside King County, we would love to increase the number of grants going outside King County and metro Seattle, especially those areas with fewer resources and opportunities for funding.
  • Continue exploring the value of taking risks with potential grantees and define the degree of acceptable risk.
  • We often expect “to bat 1.000” with all of our grants but is this realistic? Is it keeping us from expanding our view of what success means? We saw several grantees this year succeed in unexpected ways, and we encourage members to remember that our uniquely flexible grants can allow grantees opportunities to “fail,” which often leads to important learnings.
  • When a grantee goes through an unexpected seismic shift, don’t be afraid to look at what happened, what we might have missed during grant process, what we could have asked, so that we’re better informed in future.
  • Succession planning for leadership is a big issue that crosses all parts of the not-for profit sector. Succession planning is more than just knowing who the next Executive Director is going to be. We need to know how our grantees are thinking about succession planning.
  • Keep up a willingness to look a second time potential grantees. Programs and organization will have changed since they first applied for a grant, so it’s important to look at them with fresh eyes.
  • WWF is funding more “springboards,” projects that can be replicated in other counties, which is an exciting trend. When looking at whether or not this is possible, though, note that resources and needs vary from county to county. It requires depth in organizational soundness to recreate successful programs in new locations.
  • We commend the Pooled Fund Grant Committee for bringing forward prospective grantees whose efforts may not necessarily come to fruition during the grant period. Entrenched problems require long-term thinking and long-term efforts. 
  • WWF’s willingness to make grants for general operating funds makes us relatively unique. We can continue to encourage potential grantees to apply for them as these unrestricted funds can be transformational.

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