GREENSBORO, N.C. — Four years ago, four women decided to start a permanent women’s endowment in Greensboro that would make grants designed to have a big impact on the lives of women and girls.
Today, the Women to Women Endowment those four women helped create at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro has raised roughly $1.6 million in cash and pledges in the quiet phase of a campaign to raise $3 million, and is accepting letters of intent for its first round of grants.
And the endowment on Nov. 18 will kick off the public phase of its campaign.
“There is no permanent endowment for women in Greensboro,” says Louise Brady, a financial adviser at Wells Fargo Advisors who chairs the board of directors for the community foundation and is a founding donor and founding co-chair of the women’s endowment.
“We wanted to leave a way for women to leave a legacy and have a seat at the table and help address the needs, not today or tomorrow, but into the future,” she says, “and a permanent endowment is the way to accomplish that.”
Compared to many women’s funds, which typically are organized as “giving circles” or annual funds, often at community foundations, that let women pool their donations and make joint decisions on gifts, Women to Women was designed to be a permanent endowment that would make high-impact grants, says Mindy Oakley, chief operating officer and vice president for philanthropic services at the community foundation.
Recognizing that United Way of Greater Greensboro already had a strong women’s fund that asked women to give at least $10,000 each year as part of United Way’s annual fund drive, the women’s endowment at the community foundation aimed to create a permanent endowment, Oakley says.
The endowment has recruited 51 founding donors, each of whom has given $25,000 or more.
April 30 is the deadline for submitting letters of intent for the endowment’s first round of grantmaking, which will focus on human services and include one or two grants totaling $25,000 for one-year projects.
Women represent a growing force in philanthropy, both because they are outliving men and inheriting money, and also because they are building businesses and creating wealth, says Brady, who co-founded the women’s endowment with community volunteers Linda Sloan, Lisa Bullock and Ann Lineweaver, a former chair of the foundation’s board.
And women “tend to give from the heart, and that’s what we want to capture, women’s intense desire to help women and children,” says Brady, who 10 years ago also co-founded, with her husband Jim Brady, the Future Fund at the community foundation that has raised nearly $1 million from young professionals in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
The Nov. 18 public kickoff of the endowment will include a luncheon featuring Lisa Ling, a correspondent on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Each year, the endowment will make grants totaling 4.75 percent of its assets, a payout rate the foundation sets for all its endowed funds.
The endowment aims to grow to $10 million over the next 10 years, a total that would let it award nearly $500,000 in grants each year, Brady says.
Oakley says the endowment fund aims to be “a catalyst for big change.”