Dear Members of WA Women’s Foundation,
In May we invited all of our members to complete an online survey. The survey collected several important points of data that will be helpful to the Board of Directors and staff as we develop the next strategic plan for the Foundation. Because more than 150 members took the time to share their thoughts with us, I wanted to highlight some of the survey results.
Membership – Why Join?
The vast majority of the respondents joined WA Women’s Foundation because a friend, family member or colleague is or was a member of the Foundation. Not only was it one of the factors influencing the decision, it was ranked by about half of the respondents as the most compelling factor.
Of those who indicated that an event was an influencing factor, most mentioned Discovery Days, the Grant Awards Celebration and the Annual Philanthropy Celebration at SAM. Thanks to those of you who recently attended our Grant Award Celebration at SAM and brought guests with you. We hope many of them will join the Foundation before the end of the year!
We also wanted to better understand what women hoped to gain by joining our collective. The following are the top five reasons respondents joined the Foundation:
- I wanted to learn about important community issues.
- I wanted to increase the impact of my individual giving.
- I wanted to meet and work with like-minded women.
- I wanted to learn about not-for-profit organizations active in my community.
- I wanted to influence community transformation.
Membership – Why Renew?
The responses indicate that the Foundation is delivering on our promises – women are renewing because we increase the impact of their individual giving and they have learned about important community issues through Washington Women’s Foundation.
What’s Important to You?
We heard once again that having the time to participate is a challenge, especially for working women. For that reason, we are trying to have fewer events in the morning, host more over the lunch hour and find late afternoon times that are not challenged by traffic. This year, two of the five Pooled Fund Grant Committee Work Groups met in downtown Seattle, and one met at the end of the work day. This fall, we are planning to schedule our Partner Grant Committee meetings in the late afternoon as well. If you are looking for evening or weekend meeting times, let us know that specifically. When we have tried some of those in the past, they were not well-attended.
In terms of our grant making, the survey respondents told us it was very important that we make five $100,000 grants each year and that we give $2,000 Merit Awards to each of the 5 organizations not selected for the 5 Pooled Fund Grants. In fact, many comments encouraged us to increase the size of the Merit Awards. This could be a possibility, depending upon your financial support of the Foundation. This was the first year that member contributions fully funded the Merit Awards; in past years, the Board has used operating reserves to fund the awards at the current level.
Values – Collaboration, Connection, Education, Equality, Impact, Inclusiveness & Leadership
Like our Board of Directors, the survey respondents had a very difficult time ranking our organizational values, especially since they have not been specifically defined. When the Board ranked the values, their top three were:
When members were asked to rank the values in order of importance to their experience as a member of the Foundation, the top three responses were:
When asked to rank the values in the order of importance to our mission, survey respondents’ top three values were:
- Impact – by a significant margin; it was ranked the top by 48% of the respondents
- Collaboration – also by a fairly significant margin
A number of respondents commented on the value of “equality,” which was given the lowest ranking each time. One member noted that equality was important “internally” but that “equity” was a more important “external” value. Another commented on the importance of the concept of “equity” in the fulfillment of our mission.
As many of you who have served on Boards know, the strategic planning process has many phases. Last year, as we refreshed our brand, we also updated our mission statement. Next, we’ll be discussing our organizational values and determining a process by which Board members and members can agree upon shared definitions for our values. Reaching agreement around our values will allow us to make values-based decisions about what goals we want to set and what strategies we will implement to pursue those goals.
We also want to hear more from you as well as from our grantees. At least one survey respondent asked for more “substantive ways” to contribute to the strategic planning process. As we noted when we distributed the survey, we view it as simply the first step and one tool in a process that will take many months. To that end, the Foundation has engaged a strategic planning firm to help us determine how to best involve as many of you in these conversations going forward with the hope of reaching shared agreement about how to make the culture of the Foundation more inclusive, our educational programming more informative and our influence and impact more transformational.
Beth McCaw, President, WA Women’s Foundation