Washington Area Women's Foundation

First round on grantmaking committee highlights rigor, hard work that goes into investing wisely.

I always knew the Women’s Foundation’s grantmaking process was rigorous, but it wasn’t until I joined the Open Door Capacity Fund Committee that learned why it is so successful in identifying the most deserving organizations and in holding each of them accountable for the greatest possible impact in their community.

My first round on the Open Door Capacity Fund Committee was this past spring, and I’ve been reflecting on it lately since we’re about to head into another round in a few weeks–what will be my second as a committee member. 

The committee makes relatively small grants to existing Grantee Partners for capacity building.  Because the applicants have already been vetted by The Women’s Foundation, I figured the process would be somewhat relaxed.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Each organization that applied for a grant was asked to provide detailed information about the history and operation of the organization, its governance, financials and the project for which the money would be used.  Each member of the committee was then assigned to do a detailed evaluation of the information provided and present that analysis at a committee meeting in which all members assessed and questioned the organization, the information provided and the merit of the project proposed.

Next, site visits were set up and two members of the Open Door Committee met with members of senior management at the applicant organization’s headquarters to see the operation first-hand and discuss the committee’s findings, any reservations and questions.  Detailed site visit evaluations were then completed and the committee mets one last time to make final decisions on the grants.

It was so inspiring to me how hard this committee works to ensure that each donor dollar is devoted to the worthiest, most vibrant organizations and the projects that would make the greatest difference.

Cathy Isaacson is a member of The Women’s Foundation’s board of directors and serves on the Open Door Capacity Fund Committee.  She is also a member of Washington 100.

The Open Door Capacity Fund is now accepting proposals from eligible Grantee Partners.

  • Just thought I’d comment and say cool theme, did you create it on your own? Its really great!