Annoucing our Collective Grants

We’re delighted to introduce the Collective Grants! As a strong and inclusive collective of informed women, Washington Women’s Foundation’s (WaWF) mission is to influence community transformation. We do this by learning, grantmaking, and listening.

Our new grantmaking framework, the Collective Grants, is the product of our learning and listening to what the nonprofit community needed and what our members wanted to see in our next iteration of grantmaking. From the beginning, our goal was to develop a funding framework that would contribute to lasting change by deepening community resilience, strengthening community leadership, supporting community-led advocacy, and committing community-directed resources. 

OUR COLLECTIVE GRANTS

The Collective Grants run on a two-year cycle centered around six funding themes. Each year will focus on three themes, which will rotate biennially.

  • Year One
    • Law, Justice, & Incarceration
    • Housing & Hunger
    • Arts & Community Culture
  • Year Two
    • Healthcare
    • Climate & Agricultural Justice
    • Education

At the beginning of every program year in September, we will hold a Convening to explore the three funding themes for that year. At the end of the Convening, all Convening attendees (WaWF members, Convening speakers, and all community members who attend) will be surveyed for funding priorities within each theme. The top funding priorities will then be voted upon by WaWF members, with the final priorities being announced at the Annual Meeting in October. There will be one priority issue chosen per theme.

Shortly after the three priorities have been selected, we will open our Letter of Inquiry (LOI) for the Collective Grants. To be considered for the Collective Grants, organizations must meet our granting criteria and work within one of the three priorities for that year.

The Collective Grants process is similar to our previous Pooled Fund Grant process. We begin with an LOI, move a select number of organizations into a deeper phase of understanding, proceed to a Site visit or Conversation stage and finalize our choices with a vote from our members. There are, however, a few important distinctions.

Perhaps the most vivid change is that all organizations moving out of the initial LOI submission phase will receive a donation from WaWF, ranging in size from $1,500 to our top commitment of $105,000. We recognize the additional work that our collective decision-making grant process entails for organizations, and we are working to compensate that labor.

In addition, while we are still asking for organizations to complete our LOI form, organizations won’t be required to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) at any time in the process; rather, WaWF members will now conduct research on the 30 nonprofit organizations moving out of the LOI stage. We hope this will alleviate the burden of putting together a lengthy application. Furthermore, the 15 organizations moving beyond the Research phase to the Conversation phase will have a choice of in-person or remote site visit for their conversation. We provide this choice, fully acknowledging the power dynamics that are in play during traditional site visits. We are hopeful that this new approach will lead to more of a conversation and less of a “panel interview” experience. Finally, our annual Ballot will consist of six finalists, two per priority. All six finalists will receive a Leadership and Self-Care Grant of $5,000. Unlike our other grants, which are unrestricted, these grants will be restricted to the support and care of the leadership of our six final organizations. Being a leader or emerging leader in nonprofit work is both exhilarating and exhausting. We provide these funds in encouragement for you to rest.

WaWF members will vote for one finalist per priority. Our top three vote-getters – one per priority – will receive a Collective Grant of $100,000. Runner-up organizations will each receive a grant of $25,000.

For a full picture of the Collective Grant process, click here.

NEW! ADVOCACY AND WOMEN & GIRLS GRANTS

We are excited to announce two new grants as part of our grant refresh and restructuring: The Advocacy Grant and the Women & Girls Grant. When completing the LOI, organizations may opt-in to be considered for the Advocacy Grant (three to nine grants available per year ranging from $5,000 to $15,000) and the Women & Girls Grant (three grants of $15,000 available per year). Just as in the Collective Grants, these new grants will focus on the same thematic priorities for each year. No additional application materials are necessary and the deadline for application remains the same.

All funding made through these three grants is unrestricted.

We have more to say about the Collective Grant! If you haven’t already, we encourage you to watch a Grant Refresh & Restructure Presentation with President & CEO Maria Kolby-Wolfe. Aviva Stampfer, our Senior Grants Program Manager, will also be hosting Let’s Talk Collective Grant informational sessions for nonprofit organizations later this fall.

Our website has been updated to reflect these changes and a few related adjustments to our grant criteria. We will upload additional materials over the next few months to help break down the framework and structure. Sign up for our community newsletter to receive our latest news and updates!

Thank you for being our inspiration for these Collective Grants and many of the changes we made to our previous funding model. We are consistently humbled and awed by the work our nonprofit community does every day to make our world a better place. We are eager to step into the next iteration of WaWF grantmaking with you.

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