We had the privilege this year to serve on the Women and Girls Grant Committee for the Washington Women’s Foundation’s grant that specifically funds work to support women and girls in our state. This is the second year that WaWF has offered this grant, and as always, we’re continuing to learn more about how to support these organizations. As members of the Committee, with Megan serving the additional role as co-chair, we came away with a few key lessons on grantmaking for women and girls in Washington:
1: Funding for women and girls organizations is much lower than for any other philanthropic sector, despite it being more important now than ever. The 2020 Women and Girls Index, from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, shows that, out of the 10 top nonprofit subsectors, women and girls’ organizations were ranked last in terms of levels of giving support. Women and girls organizations received $7.1B in giving, which might sound like a large number—but it pales in comparison to the amount of funding for education ($56.1B) and for religion ($125B). Even more staggering, this lack of funding is taking place precisely at a time when the fundamental rights of women and girls have been under tremendous attack throughout the United States, and essential services for them have been curtailed. This makes the Women and Girls grant incredibly important, because, as a community of funders, we must intentionally shift course to bridge the widening gap between low funding and the increasing unmet needs of women and girls in our communities.
2: These funding gaps disproportionately impact the most marginalized, which is why it is critical to prioritize women and girls facing multiple layers of oppression. The adverse effects experienced by women and girls in our communities are felt most by those who are pushed to the margins by structures of power and discrimination. The Grant Committee structurally adjusted grantmaking to address these intersecting systems of oppression by utilizing an unequivocal intersectional approach. This was achieved through explicit grant criteria that required organizations to bring an intersectional lens and work to foster more equitable opportunities for women and girls, as well as have a focus on providing services to people affected by inequity due to gender identity and/or race. This frame for grantmaking was critical to ensuring that we are centering and prioritizing the women and girls who need it most.
3: There are so many incredible organizations in Washington State that are working hard to improve the lives of women and girls. Many of us on the Grant Committee were inspired by the amazing work that local organizations in Washington State are doing to meet the diverse needs of women and girls, particularly the most marginalized who are at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression and discrimination. While we could ultimately only award grants to 3 organizations (see this post for more information about our 2023 grantees), we’re incredibly grateful for the many other organizations who applied for this grant and who are doing absolutely critical work in the areas of early childhood education, food sovereignty and security, and reproductive justice and healthcare. A few of those fantastic organizations, who were finalists for the Women and Girls grant, include:
- Transitions, which works to end poverty and homelessness for women in Spokane
- Young Women Empowered, whose program, Y-WE Grow, serves a diverse group of young women, helping them gain farming, leadership, and self-reliance skills, and grow culturally relevant produce
- Hummingbird Indigenous Family Services, the first and only Indigenous organization in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties to exclusively serve indigenous babies, mothers, and families from zero to three.
4: It’s important to come together as a community to fund work for women and girls. In 2023, our Grant Committee brought together longtime and brand-new members of WaWF with members of the Washington nonprofit community. All of us brought our own perspectives and lived experiences to the table. Our responsibility was to research and select three organizations within each funding category for the “shortlist.” The diversity of our Grant Committee helped us make sure that we could have healthy debates about which organizations to select based on our trust-based grantmaking criteria, and holistically learn from other committee and community members who had enriching lived experiences and expertise in this area.
Ultimately, we selected three organizations within each funding category for the “shortlist,” and opened up voting for the final grantees to the broader community at our second-annual PopUP! for Women and Girls event, held on December 7 at the Nordic Museum in Seattle. This community-focused approach to grantmaking helps shift the power from a select few to a broader, more diverse group of people who are passionate about this funding area and have critical lived experiences to contribute so that local community leadership is centered. We hope to continue to build community member participation in this grant cycle next year.
Thank you again to all of the organizations who applied for the 2023 Women and Girls Grant—and congratulations again to our grantees: La Casa Hogar, Rainier Beach Action Coalition, and Shades of Motherhood. We recognize and appreciate the work you do every day to improve the lives of women and girls in Washington State.
We encourage more WaWF members to participate on the 2024 Women and Girls Grant Committee, and hope many will join us at the next PopUP! For Women and Girls, it is open to all! For more information about grant committees, please reach out to Aviva Stampfer, Grants and Programs Director. Tickets for the next PopUP! will open in the fall.