Readers of this blog will know that very occasionally, I mention a philanthropic organization I support, Madison’s A Fund for Women. this group support the women and girls of our community in reaching their full potential, through the vehicle of an endowment fund and annual grants from the proceeds. We are structured as a Giving Partner of the Madison Community Foundation (MCF), which means our fund is managed by their extremely capable financial managers. (I say “we” because I serve on AFFW’s Advisory Committee.)
Launched with just $100,000 in 1993 raised from Madison’s leading feminists, at the end of 2019 our fund passed the $3 million mark. That gave us a little over $100,000 to distribute in grants this year. But just as we were preparing to update our grant application process, the coronavirus pandemic came to town. I’m extremely proud of how quickly our Advisory Committee came together (virtually, of course) to prioritize getting money NOW to the local agencies serving the populations we we realized would be hardest hit.
Instead of a 6-month-long cycle of soliciting grant applications, reviewing, deciding, announcing decisions, and releasing funds to be used in the following year, we knew we needed to get that money to where it was needed NOW.
Here’s the press release.
MADISON, Wis., April 20, 2020 – A Fund for Women has taken immediate action to help women and girls faced with increasingly insecure access to shelter, food, and income due to COVID-19’s impact on Dane County. Over 25 years, thanks to the support of donors, the Fund has awarded meaningful grants focused on women’s economic empowerment. Now, to address our community’s urgent needs, the Advisory Committee has paused its 2020 grant-making cycle to make proactive emergency funds available to nonprofit organizations helping to meet the unique needs of underserved women and people who identify as women.
“Our mission is now more important than ever,” said Jennifer Seeker Conroy, Chair of the Advisory Committee. “The impacts of this pandemic are exacerbated for women and girls. We want to get funding to the agencies on the frontlines of this crisis now. We’re also asking our donors to make a special gift if they are able to during this turbulent time to support women who need our help.”
Nonprofit organizations selected to receive funds include Latino Consortium for Action, DAIS, Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, and YWCA.
Karen Menendez Coller, Executive Director of Centro Hispano, said, “At a time of such need and anxiety for immigrants and undocumented workers in Dane County, these funds will go a long way to help stabilize homes and in turn support women who are the backbone of our beautiful community. This contribution is more than support during a time of crisis–it provides encouragement and hope.” Centro Hispano is the fiscal sponsor for the Latino Consortium for Action.
Past AFFW grants have supported women’s access to education, job training, entrepreneurship, plus assistance in breaking cycles of poverty and abuse. For additional information about donations to support A Fund for Women’s emergency distributions, visit https://www.madisongives.org/affw.
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Notice that last part. As a permanent endowment, A Fund for Women has grown over decades through gifts large and small from people who care about the wellbeing of women and girls. “When women and girls thrive, everybody wins,” is our core belief and call to action.
Please consider making a donation to A Fund For Women, either immediately to help get more funds to women at this time of crisis, or in your estate plan, where making a planned gift is an act with impact far into the future. Read about both ways of giving here.
I have included a planned gift in my will. I have made gifts semi-regularly to the endowment fund. I have given of my volunteer time. All because I believe heartily that this is the most strategic way I can help my community. “When women and girls thrive, everybody wins.”
In this uncertain, troubling, crazy-making moment, when I can barely find words to write, it helped my heart immensely to join with trusted colleagues in figuring out how much and to whom our emergency relief funds could go.
Won’t you help us continue to help the most vulnerable among us?
– Sarah White