In January 2013, McPherson County women collaborated to develop a fund with an emphasis on funding meaningful projects affecting women, children and families of McPherson County, Kansas. The fund seeks to educate and inspire women to become leaders in philanthropy and demonstrate the impact of collective giving.
The types of grants potentially supported through this fund are focused on entrepreneurial start ups, helping women further their education, building community initiatives, promoting healthy living, and leadership development. Voting representatives of the WOMAN’s Fund will research projects that are focused on the fund’s mission. Although there isn’t a formal application, individuals, organizations or businesses seeking assistance are encouraged to complete a questionnaire outlining their request.
Recipients of grants are selected through a simple majority of voting members. To be considered a voting member, a woman must contribute $300 annually on or before the January annual meeting. Women may also form a group membership to make the minimum donation of $300 and collectively decide how the group’s single vote is cast. The fund must have a minimum of $3000 before grants may be awarded. While anyone is welcome to donate, women are the only voting members.
A presentation by Helen Galloway, Women of Wichita Charitable Foundation to a local McPherson women’s group prompted area women to consider developing a WOMAN’s Fund. WOW was established to give Wichita women a charitable vehicle to support the arts and other designated causes. Philanthropy through this type of fund offers local women the power to make a difference in the lives of others, shape the future, and promote causes. A WOMAN’s fund encourages charitable giving among women of all ages and backgrounds.
Women’s funds have also increased in growth and development throughout the globe. A report entitled “Accelerating change for Women and Girls: The Role of Women’s Funds” states women’s funds span public charities, private foundations, and funds within community foundations. The over 145 funds of the Women’s Funding Network have collective total assets of $465 million, disburse an estimated $60 million a year in grants, and leverage millions more through their wider relationships and connections.
The report finds that in recent years funding for women and girls by the broader foundation community has grown at a faster rate than foundation giving on the whole, although as a share of overall foundation giving, it has remained below 7.5 percent for over a decade-and-a-half. Giving by women’s funds in particular has grown even more rapidly.
In a 2012 article by Bruce DeBoskey, The DeBoskey Group he writes “for generations, women have worked collaboratively in quilting, canning, book and investment circles. The same drive to learn and act collectively has spawned women’s giving circles where women combine donations and make collective decisions about which causes to support.”
Through the WOMAN’s fund, McPherson County women are seeking sustainable solutions to pressing problems, are giving more thoughtfully and strategically, and achieving greater outcomes with philanthropy than ever before. Donations to assist with or participate as a voting member are accepted throughout the year.
WOMAN of McPherson County is an all-volunteer organization coordinated by a steering team comprised of committees to address: research; membership; communications; awards; special events; and site visits.