Tomorrow at 11 AM EST, Join the Conversation to #FundWomen, and Get a Tweet Preview Here

I’m excited about the #FundWomen Twitter Chat, starting tomorrow at 11 AM EST.   Also joining the conversation: clothing company Michael Stars, which has a foundation and uses its philanthropy to effect positive change for women.
 
Below is a sneak peek of a few of my upcoming tweets!
 
Here’s part of my answer for Question #2:  How and why do you opt to fund women’s rights organizations?
 
 
The Women’s Living Room donated $1,788 to Artists Exchange for theatre scholarships for girls. Pictured are Women’s Living Room donors, from left, Linda Harris, Lammis Vargas, Kiersten Marek, Kate Aubin, Mike Sepe, Elaine Yeaw from The Artists’ Exchange, City Council President John Lanni, and Paula McFarland.

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To #FundWomen, Join Us on National Philanthropy Day

We all have a unique journey in giving, and now that my journey has landed squarely on feminist philanthropy, I am excited to host a Twitter chat on National Philanthropy Day, to discuss my journey as a giver and to learn about your journey. I believe that by conversing, we can do more than we realize to help each other along the way.

The Twitter Chat will take place on National Philanthropy Day, Wednesday, November 15th, at 11 AM EST it, and will last for one hour. The chat is being hosted by Women Thrive Alliance, one of our spotlight organizations, and will focus on the following:

Topic: The Added Value of Funding Women’s Rights Organizations

Host: @WomenThrive

Discussant: @philanthrowomen

Hashtags: #FundWomen #NationalPhilanthropyDay

Questions:

Q1) Today is National Philanthropy Day. What advice do you have for individuals looking to give today?

Q2) How and why do you opt to fund women’s rights organizations?

Q3) What advice can you give to individuals who want to  fund grassroots organizations?

Q4) Why is philanthropy so important when it comes to women’s rights and gender equality?

Q5) What are some resources that donors can use to educate themselves on investing in women’s rights?

Twitter chat guidelines:

At the beginning of the chat, Women Thrive will ask participants to tweet and say ‘hello.’ Women Thrive will go over how to answer the tweets – i.e. answer Q1 with A1; Q2 with A2 for all tweets corresponding to that question. Women Thrive will then begin by tweeting out the questions. Lastly, please include #FundWomen in all tweets.

Please help us bring in more voices to this conversation by sharing about this is event on Twitter.

Some areas I hope to cover include the growing use of giving circles as a vehicle for grassroots feminist philanthropy, ways to influence the communities around you to analyze their gender data, and ways to use your sweat equity as  a writer, thinker, and amplifier to support feminist philanthropy. I will also be culling from our growing database of article on Philanthropy Women that are calling attention to the past, present, and future of how we #fundwomen.

See you next Wednesday, 11 AM EST, on Twitter!

Related:

From Resistance to Renaissance: Women Must Embrace their Power for Funding Social Change

 

Why Feminist Philanthropy? For All the Relationship Reasons

Philanthropy Women at 6 Months: An Update on Our Growth

 

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Women Givers: This New Platform Will Help You Empty Your Closets for Your Favorite Cause

Christena Reinhard is Co-Founder of Union & Fifth, which makes it easy to sell designer clothes for a cause, and has a specialty campaign around gender equality with Eileen Fisher Foundation.

One thing that repeatedly intrigues me in philanthropy is the way that women leaders put together the components of giving and social progress in new and creative ways, in order to maximize deployment of funds to important causes. Nearly every week, I come across a new combination of philanthropy and social action that a woman is pioneering.

This week’s amazing tale of women doing good in the world comes from the online retail sector and a new hub for online shopping called Union & Fifth. This nonprofit online store makes it easy for you to donate women’s designer clothing, shoes, and handbags, and choose a cause for where the money will be donated.

I have to admit: like a lot of women, I have a few (okay, more than a few) things in my closet that I don’t wear much. That’s where Union & Fifth comes in handy. They will take your flaw-free designer goods and wring the donation dollars out of them for a good cause. They keep a list of all the brand-name designers they accept, so you can check the list before you pack your stuff off to them.

And they make it very easy to pack your stuff off to them. You can either print out your own shipping label or request a prepaid bag that will arrive at your door in 4-6 days and holds 20-30 items. If you print out your own pre-paid label, you can stick it on any size box you want.

“Women like to connect,” said Christena Reinhard, one of the two co-founders of Union & Fifth, and veteran of the nonprofit development sector. “They like to give in a way that’s meaningful and that they can involve their network in.”

“It’s a lot easier for women to ask their friends, to say, hey, let’s do this fun closet clean-out,” said Reinhard, whose organization was born out of a dare that one woman took to raise money by selling her designer goods. She ended up netting $40,000 for her charity, said Reinhard.

Reinhard has a message for women givers who want to tap a new resources for giving: throw a “Party with a Purpose.”

“It’s like a tupperware party for philanthropy. It goes back to that connectivity. We have a 90% participation rate when women gather at a woman’s residence, and they officially launch a Union & Fifth campaign over wine and cheese. Everyone is asked to bring a qualified item, so whether they bring one item, or a trunkload, we see the inclination to get involved and engaged socially from women.”

One of the signature campaigns of Union & Fifth is with the Eileen Fisher Foundation. Reinhard shared how that connection developed. “The Eileen Fisher Foundation has been incredible. They ran a campaign where you could bring in an item to a store and get $1 off a new item, so they ended up with over 100,000 items in their warehouse that they wanted to sell.”

That’s when Union & Fifth stepped into the picture. The platform now has hundreds of Eileen Fisher items for sale, and the proceeds go to the designer’s foundation, which helps women start-ups, working to address some of the huge gap in venture capital available to women. “Eileen Fisher is committed not only to being ecofriendly and green, but also addressing gender equality,” said Reinhard.

Reinhard is also a big fan of giving circles and has seen the potential for great collaboration with the Union & Fifth platform. “We are always looking for fundraisers to launch campaigns with. Featured charities get a page on our website and are given a donate or shop link they can distribute. We also build out impact videos for the different charities we collaborate with, because I think it’s important to help people understand how their donation is getting into the charity stream.”

Union & Fifth also works with Ebay, co-listing their items on the widely-used platform. “We also have a brick and mortar store,” said Reinhard, and items are rotated to that store as well. “We are always looking for ways to get the items sold, so that we can get the money over to the charities, so they can keep doing good things.”

“I remember being at a nonprofit and trying to get people to pay attention to what we’re doing,” said Reinhard. So now, with Union & Fifth, she is an active player in that attention-getting for no profits. In fact, Union & Fifth recently collaborated with designer Nicole Miller for an event in Los Angeles, and brought in two celebrities from Dancing with the Stars. For the event, Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba launched an exclusive Nicole Miller collection at Union & Fifth, in order to raise money for the Animal Project Foundation. As part of the event, fans were able to stop in at the Nicole Miller store in Los Angeles on May 12 for a consultation from stylist George Brescia.

“We want to give that spotlight to the givers, and to the nonprofits,” said Reinhard. “I don’t succeed if they don’t succeed.”

My shoes will be donated to Union and Fifth, which provides a prepaid shipping label for items. I chose Women Donors Network as the recipient of the proceeds from the sale.

Reinhard got me so interested in Union & Fifth, I decided to test out the system with a donation of my own. I chose a pair of Sam Edelman sandals I picked up last summer, but never wore. The process was pretty straightforward — I chose Women Donors Network as the recipient of the proceeds from the sale, and Union & Fifth will take care of making sure the donation gets there, should the sandals sell.  Union & Fifth also has a searchable database of accepted designers on the site to make sure the designer of your item is one they accept. The process of printing out out the label was also no sweat.

So here’s to my sandals finding a new home through a buyer on Union & Fifth.  And here’s to the process resulting in another few coins of funding for gender equality. If this goes well, I may have found myself a new hobby, and a new way to turn over my resources for women’s empowerment.

Related:

Want to Invest with a Gender Lens? Put this Women-Owned Firm On Your Interview List

Millennial Women Beg to Differ: Generational Differences in Women’s Giving

Men Cleaning House, Women in Suits: Corporations Join UN to Fight Sexist Stereotypes

Harvesting Female Empowerment: Florence Reed and the Business of Food

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Intense Conversations About the Future of Women’s Philanthropy at DREAM. DARE. DO.

Ahh, the memories.

I recently returned from DREAM. DARE. DO. in Chicago, the every-three-year (maybe more often now!) convening of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.

Wow. I am still reeling from the experience. It was an intense two days of immersion in conversation about women’s leadership in philanthropy, where it is coming from and where it will be going in the brave new political climate of a Trump presidency.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) sponsored this amazing conference, held at the Magnificent Mile Marriott in downtown Chicago. Led by Debra Mesch and Andrea Pactor, WPI is one of the biggest hubs for  knowledge on gender and philanthropy.

Melinda Gates greets conference participants. “Women play a unique and powerful role in philanthropy,” said Gates.

WPI recently received a $2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support its work, and the conference started with a video welcome from none other than Melinda Gates, talking about the “unique and powerful role” that women play in philanthropy, both nationally and globally. 

The 27 speakers at the WPI conference helped to expand the conversation on women and philanthropy in several important ways. Just a few examples: 

  • Vini Bhansali of Thousand Currents challenged members of the philanthropy women community to recognize discrimination or prejudice happening among us. “Don’t just talk about feminism – practice daily acts of sisterhood.”
  • Casey Harden, YWCA USA shared how the YWCA maintains inclusiveness as a core value, and that the organization does not agree with the Trump administration’s ban on Muslims. 

Kimberly Jung, Co-Founder, Rumi Spice

  • “My dream is that saffron would replace opium as the primary crop of Afghanistan.” Kimberly Jung, CEO and Co-founder of Rumi Spice, shared her experience as a for-profit leader with a social impact agenda, and described her desire to build a for-profit business as being tied to her company’s vision of its sustainability.
  • Kristin Goss, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, shared her knowledge about the history of women’s legislative advocacy in Washington, showing the trends over time. Goss reminded us that women win elections at the same rate as men, and if more women ran for office, we’d have more women IN office. 

    Left to Right: Debra Mesch, Lynne Brickner, Dorrie McWhorter, Vanessa Cooksey, Kristin Goss, and Trish Jackson.
  • Jacki Zehner of Women Moving Millions spoke about the need for women to talk about money, even if it makes them uncomfortable. She alluded to the renowned Helen LaKelly Hunt, one of the founders of Women Moving Millions, who helped women to break through the barrier of their discomfort about asking for and giving a million dollars to fund gender equity initiatives. 
  • “Let nothing stand between you and the people you are trying to connect to,” said Ruth Ann Harnisch, President of the Harnisch Foundation, while discussing the power of media to impact social change, with Dianne Lynch, President of Stephens College. Harnisch also responded to an audience question about the movie Equity by reminding participants of the double standard in film where we expect films to portray women acting heroically, but we don’t hold men to this same standard.

Tracy Gary gives an amazing acceptance speech after receiving the Shaw-Hardy Taylor Award.

One of the most heartfelt moments in the conference was when Tracy Gary received the Shaw-Hardy Taylor Achievement Award. Gary, author of Inspired Philanthropy and longtime advocate for advancing women’s philanthropy, gave an impassioned plea for women to get stronger in their commitment of dollars and time to philanthropy.

In making the Award, Shaw-Hardy noted that when she and Taylor co-authored their landmark book, Women and Philanthropy, Gary was one of the chief knowledge sources they called upon to learn about the world of women’s giving.

Gary had some of the most interesting and thought-provoking things to say at the conference, which makes sense given her four decades of experience with the field. She reminded the audience that one of her big keys to success is simply showing up. She is one of those people who makes it to many conferences a year, and noted that her ongoing visibility and accessibility are essential traits to her success. She talked about the importance of setting aside money in your budget as a woman philanthropist in order to attend conferences and be part of the visible leadership of the movement.

“We need to stop letting men be in charge,” said Gary, and, “Learning to love is learning to listen,” — both timeless messages that embody Gary’s fearless persistence in advancing the causes of women’s rights, LGBT rights, and other progressive causes. Gary was bold enough to say that if she were to get hit by a bus, she would be ecstatic, because she has laid out her giving plan and is looking forward to making those large donations. She also told the audience that she lost 100 pounds in the past year by cutting wheat, dairy, and sugar out of her diet, and these big changes are partially about wanting to  be around to participate in the women’s philanthropy field for another twenty years at least.

Gary helped establish the Women’s Foundation of California in 1979-1980, one of the first locally based women’s funds in the country. She also helped build out several donor networks including the Women’s Funding Network, Women Donors Network, and Women Moving Millions.

In the last breakout session of the conference, I sat with a group of about 30 women. The legendary Jacki Zehner was leading the discussion, which centered on identify next action steps for women’s philanthropy as a whole. It was time for the rubber to meet the road. What were we going to do as a group, and where were we going to get the resources to do it?

Of course, these questions can never be answered quickly, but the conversation was intense, and involved much careful listening and questioning. Some of the priorities that received the highest votes from the group were:

1.) Establishing a hub for women’s philanthropy (Hey, sounds a lot like Philanthropy Women!).

2.) Establishing a shared policy agenda for women’s philanthropy.

3.) Identifying next steps for movement activities like The Women’s March.

Unfortunately, I had to rush out of this last break-out session, since I received a text that my shuttle to the airport had arrived early. Thankfully, I just made it to the van as the driver was closing the door to drive away.

But that’s okay, because the conversation is ongoing, as it should be. I saw on Twitter that a group of millennials from the conference is planning to do monthly update calls.

https://twitter.com/WrightAlyssa1/status/843193245006020613

The energy and discussion is continuing around how women in philanthropy can carry the strategy forward for gender equity. I’m looking forward to staying involved!

https://twitter.com/Dianne_C_Bailey/status/842028830185402369

 

 

 

 

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Why Civil Society Tops the Agenda for Women’s Philanthropy at DREAM, DARE, DO

Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of the YWCA and opening speaker for Dream, Dare, Do on March 14, 2017 in Chicago.

Grassroots activism is on the rise, from Standing Rock to the Women’s March on Washington to local organizing across the country. In the midst of all this, what better thing to do than attend a conference that is all about how to enhance civil society — the engagement of citizens in collective activity for the common good.

With this focus on growing civil society, the 2017 Symposium of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute offers panelists, speakers, and interaction aimed at understanding how women envision a better society, and then dare to take action to create that better place.

The Symposium, slated for March 14 and 15 in Chicago, will start with the leaders of two of the oldest and most venerable community-based organizations in the country — the YWCA, and the Junior League. “These organizations have lived through so much, and they adapted to the times to remain vibrant and vital,” said Andrea Pactor, Associate Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, in a recent chat with Philanthropy Women about the upcoming conference.

As many in the U.S. plan to press on for gender equality, valuing it as a cornerstone of civil society, The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is offering a wide array of expertise to feed the conversation about where women in philanthropy fits into this landscape.

The opening speaker for the conference will be Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of the YWCA, and a key figure in community-based leadership nationwide. “The YWCA is a classic example of how women developed new resources for civil society early on,” said Pactor. 

During the mid-1800’s industrialization of the nation, the YWCA grew out of a need for women to have a safe place to stay overnight. By starting the conference with Dr. Richardson-Heron, WPI is framing the narrative for women in philanthropy around a core value of having a safe place for everyone in the community, even as people moved or migrated to find new work.  

“There is no question that public policy and legislation can affect more people overall,” noted Pactor, “but while we’re waiting for that to happen, organizations in local communities like the YWCA and the Junior League are getting things done.”

Pactor observed that both of these organizations have been at the forefront of social and political movements since before women got the right to vote, and they continue to lead with innovative strategies for community engagement, such as the Junior League’s partnership with Kaboom! which builds playgrounds where they are needed. “This is a great partnership, because public space is where people can come together and when we come together we find we’re not so different after all,” said Pactor.

The Junior League, in particular, has deep roots for women’s community-building leadership. Mary Harriman, a 19-year-old heiress to a railroad fortune, founded The Junior League in 1901 to help women organize and take collective action to improve their communities.

“We’re starting from an institutional point of view, and then we move right into an individual perspective,” said Pactor, referencing the next speaker on opening day, Becky Straw, Co-Founder and CEO of The Adventure Project. “In some ways, Becky Straw is the new Mary Harriman, harnessing technology and integrating it into her work from the get-go.”

Becky Straw, Founder and CEO, The Adventure Project

At 29 years of age, Becky Straw co-founded The Adventure Project in order to “marry good intentions with measurable impact.” Straw’s project allows donors to invest in entrepreneurs in countries like Kenya and Uganda, and through technology, provides a direct link connecting the recipient of the donation with the donor.

Pactor said Straw will discuss how this connection enhances women’s giving, helping donor and recipient align in their goals and invest more deeply in the cause.  “So this is a conference that is connecting the new and the old, and thinking how women have worked in this public space over time,” said Pactor.

Other sessions of the conference are dedicated to women’s social entrepreneurship and impact investing. Leaders of Prosperity Together will also be presenting, including Lee Roper-Batker, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, CEO of the Greater Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Pactor was quick to point out that these women leaders in philanthropy, in their own ways, are also social entrepreneurs.

“Can we think about Prosperity Together as an entrepreneurial effort?” Pactor said the women’s funds leaders at the conference would be talking about how the Prosperity Together — the collaborative effort of 29 women’s funds and foundations across the country to increase economic security for women — has been “one of the most impactful campaigns that the women’s funds have ever taken on.” Hearing the insights of these leaders can help entrepreneurs of all sorts consider new ways to leverage social impact while also providing a service and contributing to the economy.

“Can those changes at the local level be brought to scale? Can the United Way Women’s Leadership Council in Anderson, South Carolina which took on teen pregnancy and was very successful, can this kind of work be replicated in other communities?” Pactor said questions like these, and other instances of women-led locally-based grantmaking, will be discussed more deeply.  “In Jacksonville, how has the Women’s Giving Alliance focus on mental health affecting the community? Could we build a national movement through women’s collective grantmaking around mental health?”

The conference also aims to stimulate discussion of what can be done to encourage women to step fully into their philanthropy. Using small group work and other collaborative techniques, participants can deepen their awareness of how to use their skills more effectively.

The conference trends in the direction of action, said Pactor. “Another tool that women have at their disposal that some are reluctant to use is advocacy,” said Pactor. “That’s why we’re bringing Sonya Campion to talk about advocacy both from the big picture and on the grassroots level.”

Sonya Campion added advocacy to her portfolio after feeling frustrated with the progress their foundation was making on its strategic goals. She and her husband, Tom, started a 501(c)4 in 2013 to invest in advocacy around the same causes their foundation supports. “They created a 501(c)4 so they bring different approaches to the table,” said Pactor. “Sonya Campion is not afraid to use advocacy as a tool to reach public policy makers to effect the kinds of changes they want to see.”

Ultimately, said Pactor, the conference hopes to close with a message that that encourages women to use all the tools at their disposal – whether leveraging their assets in impact investing, creating collaborations, enriching their work through advocacy, supporting innovative social enterprises, or growing grassroots giving circles.  

“We have to think strategically about the kinds of partnerships we want as women in philanthropy,” said Pactor. “I mean, think of it: Prosperity Together was launched at The White House. That says a lot about the kinds of partnerships that women in philanthropy are growing across the country.”

I had to ask: Did Pactor think Prosperity Together would be invited to the Trump White House? “We’re going to hope that they will be. Trump campaigned on the message of jobs and bringing better jobs to America. That’s what Prosperity Together is all about, so why wouldn’t he invite Prosperity Together to The White House?”Read More

The List of Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy is Growing, and We Need Your Help

Last year when I was writing for Inside Philanthropy, David Callahan and I co-authored a list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy. It was a big hit. This year, I have decided to follow up and develop eight shorter lists. The lists will start with Emerging Most Powerful Women.

Why start with emerging? Using emerging women leaders as our starting point helps us get a sense of how these women are influencing some of the changing dynamics of philanthropy. Some of the emerging women are quite different from the more established women leaders in philanthropy. Many of these emerging leaders take a strong stance on the need for philanthropy to be more integrated into the economy and inclusive of marginalized groups. A heightened awareness of the need for collaboration across sectors to achieve systemic change is also a key point for many of them.

Speaking of inclusiveness, we want to make the process of establishing this list more inclusive, by asking for nominations from the public. So please, use this contact page to send me your nominations or leave them in the comments below. Make sure to say which category you are nominating someone for.

The point to all this list-making? I believe that the more women in philanthropy can be seen by the larger public, and the more their strategies can be known and replicated, the stronger movements for women’s leadership and gender equality will become. So please join me in identifying and celebrating this growing trend in social progress.

Categories for the Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy

  1. Emerging Leaders — These are women leaders who have not yet ascended to a highly visible position in the landscape of philanthropy, but appear destined to do so.
  2. Network and Collaborative Giving Leaders — The donor network and giving circle women leaders who are forging new paths for philanthropy.
  3. Thought and Strategy Leaders — Women leaders in academia, media, or journalism who are helping to conceptualize and amplify the world of women’s giving.
  4. Corporate Giving Leaders — Women leading our corporations who are putting gender equity high on the agenda and working it into the fabric of the corporation as thoroughly as possible.
  5. Foundation Leaders — Women who are making gender equity a priority in the country’s largest and most influential foundations.
  6. High Net Worth Givers — Women of substantially higher net worth who are also very active in the world of giving.
  7. Feminist Foundation and Women’s Fund Leaders — Women who are making feminism part of the central platform of their funding work.
  8. Celebrity Women Leaders — Women who use their stardom as well as their philanthropic prowess to move the needle on gender equity.

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Beyond Planning Fundraisers: How Women’s Giving Circles Move Millions for Children’s Nonprofits

Jacqueline Caster

“When you think of the big gala events, you have to scratch your head and say, ‘why do people go to all that effort?’ I mean, those can be effective fundraisers, if done responsibly. But when they net very little or fail to  break even, doing nothing but raising awareness, I don’t buy into that.”

These are the words of Jacqueline Caster, founder and president of the Everychild Foundation, and master of the art of creating women’s giving circles—an effective and increasingly popular way to raise money.

The Everychild Foundation model has had a significant impact, and not just locally. It has been replicated by over 15 organizations, including two in London, some in other states, and many throughout California.

So how did this model arise? In part, it was a reaction to the grind of other approaches, especially galas, that were a common way for women to raise money for causes they care about—but which Caster and many other women did not find to be the best use of their time, treasure or talent. Caster writes eloquently of the different nature of her philanthropy in an essay in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. “For a growing number of contemporary women, particularly the highly educated, arranging fundraising events is often not, in fact, fulfilling or stimulating. For many, it under-utilizes their intellect, talent, education, professional skills, and general life experience.”

So what’s a highly educated contemporary woman to do? She might consider starting or joining a giving circle.

“Giving circles can be created at any price point, for any cause, and with any demographic as the membership,” said Caster in a recent interview. “You can do it with no paid staff and a tiny percentage of operational costs, compared to bigger foundations.”

Inside Philanthropy has covered giving circles before, including ones raising money for niche areas, like the Asian American LGBT community, or nonprofit work in specific locales like Philadelphia. Giving circles play to women’s strengths as networkers and collaborators, and they offer a way for smaller donors to be part of something larger—but not so large they have no meaningful voice.

Caster developed her alternative approach for giving in Los Angeles in 1999, and incorporated Everychild Foundation as a 501(c)(3) the following year. The model is relatively simple. The foundation’s mission is to ease suffering of Los Angeles-area children whether due to disease, disability, abuse, neglect or poverty. Each member makes an annual $5,000 tax-deductible donation. The money is then pooled to fund a single, targeted $1 million grant to a local organization with a dream project. The project ideally involves an innovative prototype that can be replicated, thereby leveraging the dollars even further.  

Less than 10 percent of the funds collected are used to operate the organization. There is no rent or salaried staff. Caster and all the other members donate all of their hours. However, there are some accounting, bookkeeping and a few other miscellaneous costs, plus the services of a professional grant consultant who advises the grant board.

Starting with 56 members in 2000, Everychild has now grown to its target of 225 members, giving it the financial muscle to make $1 million grants each year since 2006.

One of Everychild’s earliest grants tells an interesting story about impact. The foundation made a 2001 grant to Queenscare to fund a mobile dental clinic staffed by the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. When dentists started serving large numbers of low-income children in the first months, they uncovered such a huge unmet health need in the community that Queenscare sought out funding from other major local foundations; three more dental clinics were added, for a total of four clinics, all still operating today.

Each member of the Everychild Foundation donates the same amount and is permitted one vote on the million-dollar grantee for the year, so there is no inequality between the donors. “Members have frequently expressed how refreshing it is to participate in a charity without the typical hierarchy of  donors who are treated differently according to their gift size,” said Caster.

The Everychild Foundation begins soliciting proposals at the end of each calendar year. From January through May, the grant screening board narrows that pool of proposals down from roughly 25 to about six or eight. The board then evaluates items such as their financials, success handling other large grants and sustaining new projects. Next come site visits to each group in this final pool in May. “We meet the board, see the facility. We send questions before and after the site visit,” said Caster.

“We eventually vote on two finalists who spend the summer putting together a full proposal. The presentation to our membership takes place in October. About half the members attend the hearing every year.”

Members then mail in their ballots in the following two weeks. “Some discuss the choice in online chat groups. They talk it over at the dinner table with their families and partners,” said Caster. “It becomes a really interesting period as the final proposals are discussed.”

The model affords a great deal of latitude for participation, from not much at all to active involvement in the grantee review process or grant monitoring after the grants have been awarded. Some members don’t even vote for which grantee is chosen, trusting that the group has done its due diligence. Interested Everychild members also have the opportunity to advocate for a variety of children’s issues at the county, state and federal levels as part of the Public Policy Committee.

The Everychild Foundation’s level of due diligence in selecting the finalists has become legendary in the Los Angeles community. “Directors at other prestigious local foundations have said that if a project can survive Everychild’s rigorous review process, it must have merit,” said Caster.

Consequently, not only do Everychild’s chosen grantees receive $1 million, but the runners-up in Everychild’s process often see significant dollar support, either from Everychild members, or other foundations, not infrequently, even receiving the full million.

Which brings us to this year’s winner and runner-up.

The winner is Richstone Family Center, which will be creating a new healing arts center with the $1 million grant. “Richstone serves the areas of L.A. County experiencing the highest concentration of gang violence, child trafficking, drug-related crime, prostitution, and poverty,” said Caster in a press release about the winner. “The Everychild Foundation Healing Center has the ability to change the life trajectories of at-risk and abused children and their families.”

The runner-up this year is also providing vital services in the community, and is ripe for scaling up with additional funding. Jovenes, of Boyle Heights, helps homeless and at-risk children and families. The project it pitched will provide housing and other supportive services for hundreds of homeless community college students, many of whom are aged-out former foster youth. Caster acknowledged the difficult letdown of not getting the Everychild grant, but sometimes being the runner-up can actually surpass winning the Everychild Foundation’s grant. “One year, the runner-up received $2 million from another funder,” said Caster.

“We work really hard to help find funding for the runner-up,” said Caster. This year, after announcing the winner, she sent out an email about the runner-up, and already heard back from one funder who wanted to provide a five-figure grant and another who might be interested in funding the whole thing.

More information about Everychild’s grant process is here.Read More

Giving Circles Get New Attention from The Rhode Island Foundation

How great to see The Rhode Island Foundation embracing giving circles and offering to provide matching funds to six giving circles that meet their criteria. From the Foundation’s website:

The Rhode Island Foundation seeks up to six informed and engaged community leaders who are interested in forming, leading, and facilitating small groups of peer networks organized around charitable giving. Giving circles are groups of people who pool their donations and decide together how to distribute them. Groups typically have a shared interest or connection, but it’s not required. Individual giving circles will have the ability to set their own member requirements and giving levels.

Each circle will identify its own needs and design the appropriate goals and structure. This initiative is meant to inspire philanthropy throughout the community and to provide an opportunity for groups of people that might not otherwise come together around a fundraising effort – to do just that. It is not about giving to the Rhode Island Foundation. Likewise, the Rhode Island Foundation will not solicit gifts for your giving circle.

Source: Giving CirclesRead More