Transforming Together 2020: Details on New Grant Making Criteria

Formal headshot of Beth McCaw of Washington Women's FoundationOur Pooled Fund grant making cycle begins in September of each year, and our Letter of Inquiry process will open September 24. As you know, through our Pooled Fund, our members currently invest in the five areas which we believe are the foundational elements of a thriving community – Arts & Culture, Education, the Environment, Health and Human Services. We will continue to organize our funding in these five categories in 2019, although our criteria for selecting organizations in each of these categories is changing.

The new criteria is focused on increasing equity and reducing disparities in communities throughout Washington state. We have decided to stay committed to the definition of “equity” developed by Philanthropy Northwest:

Equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s identity no longer predicted how one fared in life.

However, based upon community feedback, we slightly revised our definition of “disparities.”

Disparities are differences in life experiences, life outcomes, and the distribution of society’s benefits and burdens determined by a person’s race, gender identity, and other characteristics historically linked to discrimination and/or exclusion.

As I reported last month, through our literature review and convenings of local nonprofit leaders and funders, we have learned that there is not a specific roadmap toward equity that we can simply adopt and follow, that the philanthropic sector’s concepts and ideas are continuing to evolve, and that our legacy of being a learning organization, willing to test, try and adapt, will continue to serve us in good stead as we go forward on this journey. Therefore, after synthesizing the feedback we received from members, nonprofit leaders and other local funders, we have finalized the following grant criteria to use this year.

Specifically, this fall, we are inviting a Letter of Inquiry from any organization that meets the following criteria:

  • Is focused on providing services to communities affected by inequity due to race, gender identity, and/or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination and/or exclusion.
  • Is accountable to the community being served. “Accountable” means
    • Ensures that people or communities being served are visibly leading;
    • Develops leadership of the people being served;
    • Engages the community being served in ongoing decision-making, planning, and assessment; and/or
    • Draws on the strengths and assets of the community being served to achieve the long-term goals of reducing disparities and increasing equity.
  • Has the expertise to do the work. “Expertise”includes being able to demonstrate
    • An understanding of the root causes of the issues facing the community being served.
    • A track record of success in reducing disparities and/or achieving more equitable outcomes

We expect to learn a lot through this year’s process, and it is likely that these criteria will be modified, again, as we do learn more. We are especially curious to see how this new criteria may change which organizations apply to us for funding as well as the number of LOIs we receive this fall. Organizations will have until November 5 to submit LOIs, so please help us spread the word. Aviva Stampfer, our Grants Program Manager, will be hosting several information sessions over the next few weeks to help explain the criteria and our process to interested nonprofit organizations. For more information, please see our For Nonprofits part of the website.

We also know that you may have questions about our new criteria, especially if you are planning on serving on the Pooled Fund Grant Committee next year. We know that for our members, there are additional terms to be defined as well as context to be clarified. If you have questions, we invite you to attend one of our upcoming events:

Transforming Together 2020: Q&A with WA Women’s Fdn President & CEO
Thursday, October 11
10:00 – 11:00 AM; hosted in Seattle by our founding President, Colleen Willoughby

Pooled Fund Grant Committee Basics
Tuesday, October 16
10:00 – 11:00 AM at the 2100 Building

Intersect: Join the Conversation
Thursday, November 8
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM at Seattle Repertory Theatre (registration opens next Friday)

Thank you for being a part of this learning process, and we look forward to seeing you this fall!

1 response to “Transforming Together 2020: Details on New Grant Making Criteria

  1. Beth, thank you for continuing to build on our history of learning together as we move through this process. I am so interested to see how organizations address both the accountability and expertise criteria this year. We are saying a lot through the questions we ask.

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