Dear WA Women’s Foundation Members,
As the summer comes to an end, the next phase of our strategic planning process is beginning. As you will recall, in May we invited all of our members to complete an online survey. More than 150 members took the time to complete the survey, and I shared a summary of the responses with you in my June President’s Letter.
Over the summer, the Board of Directors convened a Strategic Planning Task Force that is assisting us in determining what data we need from members and the community, how to make the process as member-inclusive as possible, and how to best structure discussions at the Board level. The Task Force is being chaired by our Board Chair, Grace Chien, and meets on a monthly basis. Many thanks the following members who are serving on the Strategic Planning Task Force: Board members Jodi Green and Carrie George, Pooled Fund Grant Committee Chair Susan Heikkala, Patricia Kiyono, Jill McGovern and Julie Stein.
We also had a second task force meeting over the summer. Earlier this year, thanks to the advocacy of our Board member Bo Lee, WA Women’s Foundation received a $30,000 grant from Bo’s employer, BNY Mellon, to launch a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative at the Foundation. The grant did not lay out specific requirements or guidelines for this initiative, so our Board of Directors convened a second task force to research options, discuss opportunities and make a recommendation to the Board that could be folded into our strategic plan. Grace Chien, our Board Chair, also chairs this task force, which will be continuing to meet over the next few months. Again, thanks to the following members who are serving on the DEI Task Force: Board members Cherry Banks, Donna Lou, Martha Kongsgaard, and Bo Lee, and at-large members Maura Fallon and Diankha Linear.
As part of the next phase of data collection for our strategic plan, our consultants Tara Smith and Barbara Grant of Crux Consulting are conducting staff and individual member interviews. In addition, they will be convening member focus groups in mid-September. Many members volunteered to join in these conversations, and we have arranged the focus group participants in separate sessions based upon their years of membership (3 years or less; between 3 and 10 years, 10+ years of membership). To those of you who volunteered for the interviews and focus groups, our deepest thanks. We appreciate your commitment to the Foundation and your interest in helping us craft a vision for our future.
Aviva Stampfer, our Grants Program Manager, is also working with the Strategic Planning Task Force and has developed an online survey that we are going to send to all of our past grantees. We are interested in hearing their opinions about the process of applying to WA Women’s Foundation for funding. As a learning collective, we are always interested in process improvement. We know that the grants application process is time-intensive and for smaller nonprofit organizations, can be a drain on already limited resources. If you attended the first day of Discovery Days 2015, you may recall our speaker Vu Le encouraging funders to look at their grant making processes to determine whether they are “stacking the deck” against certain organizations, especially small, grassroots organizations serving communities of color and led by people of color. We think it would be helpful to know this about our processes. In addition, we are sensitive to the fact that an intensive process is often a barrier to a Foundation’s ability to be nimble and responsive to urgent and critical community needs. If we want to increase our impact, we may need to become more nimble.
The grantee survey also is a vehicle for collecting more data that we haven’t necessarily collected in a systematic way in the past. Obtaining this data will allow us to complete a “gap analysis” to better understand what issues, communities and geographic areas we have traditionally funded and which we have not. This analysis will help us better define what impact we have had in the past as we think about what impact and influence we want to have in the future.
The Board of Directors has a full day meeting in September to review the survey, interview and focus group data. I will make a report at the Annual Meeting of the Membership, which will be held on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, at noon in the 2100 Building. I do hope you will join us. Click here to register for the Annual Meeting. Our goal is to have a new strategic plan in place shortly after the Board’s annual retreat, which will occur next March. As I mentioned in my previous President’s Letter, our overarching goal is create a plan to make the culture of the Foundation more inclusive, our educational programming more informative and our influence and impact more transformational. Thank you for helping us by sharing your thoughts and your vision for the future of WA Women’s Foundation. Our collective thinking and action makes the Foundation stronger.
Beth McCaw, President, WA Women’s Foundation