This year, I have had the privilege of co-chairing the Rainmakers Giving Circle. The Circle was organized under the auspices of The Women’s Foundation and provides grants to organizations that improve the lives of under-resourced girls and young women in the DC region. I’m pleased to report that we are now 34 women strong and celebrating our 11th year of grantmaking.
The Rainmakers Giving Circle received over 100 proposals for funding this year. We worked in teams to review and evaluate the proposals, ultimately selecting 11 organizations to receive site visits. One of the most gratifying aspects of our work is spending time on site with the organizations’ staff and the young women they serve, asking tough questions and seeing their work in action.
After the site visit teams have a chance to confer, the Circle then gathers as a whole to hear reports on the site visits – always a spirited discussion – and then renders its decision by a vote.
I’m delighted to report that in this cycle we will be making grants to the following organizations:
- Court-Appointed Special Advocate/Prince George’s County ($15,000)
- FAIR Girls ($15,000)
- Girls on the Run (Northern VA) ($14,050)
- Liberty’s Promise ($12,000)
- Transitional Housing Corporation ($15,000)
Our funding decisions are always challenging, as we receive proposals from more organizations doing outstanding work than we are able to fund. This year’s grantees distinguished themselves by having highly dedicated and talented staff, by developing creative and practical approaches in their programming, and by working through a strong “gender lens.”
This year we made one major change in our grant-making model: We decided to move from an annual to a bi-annual grantmaking cycle. (In other words, we’ll be giving the grantees listed above the same amount of funding in the second year of a two-year grant cycle, provided that the grantees can demonstrate satisfactory progress in their program work at the end of the first year of funding.) As we gathered the Circle for a post-mortem last year, a clear consensus emerged that we should move toward a “partnership” model in which we would work with our grantees in two-year cycles.
Over the years, several of us have been inspired to develop relationships directly with grantees by performing on-site volunteer work, fundraising, or serving as board members. We want to learn more and do more. We believe that increasing our investment in our grantees will give Circle members an opportunity to strengthen our relationships and to make an even greater impact in the community.
I joined the Rainmakers many years ago because I wanted to meet other women who shared my interests and to conduct my charitable giving in a more meaningful, hands-on way. It is such a pleasure to work with this committed group of change-makers. It has been a great opportunity to gain experience in collaborative grantmaking and to engage in the community, knowing that I’m helping to empower more young women through this shared effort than I could on my own.