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Women for women

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By Eden Foster

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Funds donated and allocated by women are key to dramatic social change in the U.S. and abroad, according to the Women’s Funding Network in San Francisco.

And by working together rather than individually, the group says, women have a stronger voice politically, socially, economically and philanthropically.

In recognition of the power of women who pool their resources to make a positive difference in their communities, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina recently began Women for Women.

The initiative includes a giving circle that brings together women who make a commitment to contribute a minimum of $1,100 a year for three years each, then distribute these funds as grants to fund critical needs of women and girls in the region.

The giving circle is open to all women who are interested in becoming effective philanthropists through the power of collective grantmaking.

Members of the giving circle themselves make the annual grants, now estimated to be between $30,000 and $100,000 each.

Women for Women Steering Committee:

  • Marla Adams, Beattie Foundation
  • Janice Brumit, board member, Community Foundation board member
  • Sue McClinton, chairman, board of directors, UNC-Asheville
  • Eleanor Owen, board chairman, Community Foundation
  • Pat Smith, president, Community Foundation
“Women in particular like to be more involved when they are giving, and women tend to enjoy working together to address the issues they care about,” says Pat Smith, the foundation’s president.

“But the purpose of Women for Women is not just to raise money, the purpose is also to help us to get educated about some of the issues that affect women,” she says. “We hope this will help people get more engaged in their giving so they become more passionate about their community and their causes.”

Eleanor Owen, a member of the Women for Women steering committee and chairman of the foundation’s board of directors, says the strong educational component is important.

“Hopefully these women will be excited and energized with what they learn, then go out and do even more in their communities,” she says.

In addition to the giving circle, Women for Women has also created a permanent endowment called the Women’s Fund, which Smith anticipates will grow over time and will accept gifts of any size.

A third aspect of the giving circles, known as “women’s conversations,” offers donors one-on-one meetings with the foundation’s staff to help them think about their values, find their passion, and create a customized philanthropic plan.

“We have just been overwhelmed with the response,” says Smith, “We already have more than 60 members” of the giving circle following the first informational meeting on February 18.

“Women for Women is about raising resources, sure, but it’s about raising advocacy, as well,” she says.

On June 22, Women for Women will sponsor the first “Power of the Purse” luncheon that will feature philanthropist Abigail E. Disney as keynote speaker.

Handcrafted purses made by women artisans will be auctioned at the luncheon, and women will have the opportunity to learn more about the new giving initiative.

Call Karen Deaton at (828) 254-4960 for information about Women for Women and to receive an invitation to the luncheon.

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