Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with ten members of the Women’s Philanthropy Committee (WPC). WPC is a group of philanthropic and actively engaged women committed to reaching out and engaging women in the work of Federation. They give so much of their time and effort to expanding the reach of Federation and sharing their personal passion for our mission and the people we provide vital services for. These women are fantastic volunteers. They get it! And want to learn and do more!
Without too long of a history lesson (and certainly not giving it its full due), as in most Jewish Federations, there was an initial Women’s Division made up of women who made an individual gift in their own name to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. Eventually over time, new tiered giving levels were introduced (perhaps most famous is the Lion of Judah level for women who contribute $5,000 or more on an annual basis) and special “affinity groups” were developed for “veteran” women and younger women. There was the establishment of new leadership development programs. And, just a few years ago here in Portland, the Women’s Philanthropy Committee was created as a way to cultivate and involve women leaders. Regardless of the avenue for involvement, the goals have always been the same – to increase the participation of women in Federation and communal activities and train a cadre of leaders to lead in all areas within our Federation and the broader community.
With the evolution and changes three things have happened:
• A new group of younger women became actively engaged in the Jewish Federation and began to increase their involvement both time-wise and via their philanthropy.
• The long-time volunteers at Federation have enjoyed watching these younger women take leadership roles, yet some feel they are now outside the process and their involvement has diminished.
• We offer a myriad of opportunities for women at higher giving levels, yet what are we doing with women who contribute less than $1,000 per year and those who do not donate at all? We have events like Impact, open to anyone who makes a gift, and small group get-togethers.
We need to continue to be broad-minded and open for anyone who wishes to participate. We must show gratitude to those most generous with their philanthropy while at the same time inform people that the door is open for their involvement. We cannot “overburden” people with the number of events (see last week’s Marc’s Remarks) and need to find meaningful volunteer activities (beyond just planning events) for these women.
When women make a contribution, are in a leadership position, or volunteer their time to a non-profit organization, they tend to base their efforts on solid principles such as compassion, values, vision, and responsibility. They have a “big picture” view of the world and want to see their contribution bring about change and make a difference. Sondra Shaw-Hardy, Co-Founder of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University writes about the Six Cs of Women’s Giving:
• Create new solutions to problems
• Change things for the better and make a difference
• Commit through volunteerism to organizations whose vision they share
• Connect with human faces that women’s gifts affect
• Collaborate with others as part of a larger effort to avoid duplication, waste and competition
• Celebrate by having fun together and enjoying the deeper meaning and satisfaction of women’s philanthropy
As studies show, women outlive men, represent over half the U.S. population, and control over half of the nation’s wealth. We need to nurture more women for positions of leadership and ask them to lead. Women bring experience, vast perspectives, intellectual capital, listening skills and tremendous values (among other things) to philanthropic leadership. We must harness their power and expand women’s involvement at every level of Federation and in our community.
Federation will be working hard to involve more women, reengage those who say they have “done their time,” cultivate new relationships, evaluate our efforts, and create an environment where all women can give of their time, energy and financial resources to make our community stronger. We want your participation!
If you would like to learn more or find ways to get involved, please do not hesitate to contact me by replying to this email. You can join some of the most well-intentioned, educated, philanthropic, and caring people in our community.
I am truly inspired by the work of WPC and women throughout our community. You truly do make great things happen!
PS – URGENT! A few weeks ago I wrote to you about the potential reduction in funds for senior services from the State of Oregon. We now have more information available -- please click here to learn more about how you can make a difference today!