Washington Area Women's Foundation

The Women's Foundation and Catalogue for Philanthropy leverage collective wisdom.

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of attending the 2008 Catalogue for Philanthropy awards ceremony, where we got a chance to hear from a number of past awardees about what recognition in the Catalogue has meant for them.

The wisdom of the Catalogue is based on the same wisdom that governs grantmaking at The Women’s Foundation.  The Catalogue brings together a diverse committee of volunteers–all experts in philanthropy at some level–to vet and evaluate potential candidates for the Catalogue, so that once in hand, philanthropists know that every nonprofit featured is doing excellent work and having an impact.

Similarly, The Women’s Foundation uses the power of collective wisdom in its grantmaking, placing the responsibility for decisions about funding in the hands of community members–whether through the Leadership Awards, grantmaking committee or a giving circle–and asking them to pool not only their resources, but their experience, perspective and wisdom to choose the most effective organizations in which to invest.

So it was no surprise to me today when I saw so many of our former Leadership Awardees and other Grantee Partners featured in this year’s Catalogue, or being honored as those who had best leveraged their appearance in the past. 

Among them, Fair Fund and A Wider Circle–2007 Leadership Awardees of The Women’s Foundation–are featured in this year’s Catalogue.

The Washington Middle School for Girls, a Grantee Partner of The Women’s Foundation and former Catalogue charity, was featured via film.

In addition, Ascensions Community Services and Friends of Guest House were honored for having taken full advantage of being featured in the 2007 Catalogue by leveraging various marketing, media and outreach strategies to increase their fundraising and build important partnerships throughout the community.

Looking through the Catalogue of the 2008 honorees and those of the past, there is a great deal more overlap between The Women’s Foundation’s Grantee Partner list and the Catalogue‘s selected nonprofits than I can list here.

All, I think, testimony to the value and power of investing in mechanisms that vet and evaluate the organizations working in our community through the common wisdom and involvement of our community.

In tough economic times like we’re facing now, when the needs are greater than ever before and resources are decreasing, there has never been a more important time not only to give to our community, but to invest wisely in it.

As Sidney Harman said during his remarks today, now is the time to give even more, not less, than we ever have before.   

Lisa Kays is Director of Communications at The Women’s Foundation and was a reviewer for the 2008 Catalogue for Philanthropy.