The Chippewa Valley Post reports on area nonprofit organizations with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness of their missions and activities, which are often “below the radar.”
Our “6 of Substance” series is part of this effort to provide information that otherwise might not be available. This series presents answers from area nonprofit organizations, in their own words, to six questions about who they are and what they do. These responses are edited only for length, grammar and style concerns.
Women’s Giving Circle of the Eau Claire Community Foundation
Who do you serve?
The mission of the Women’s Giving Circle (WGC), a fund of the Eau Claire Community Foundation, is to raise money and distribute funds to projects and initiatives that improve the lives of women and children in the Eau Claire area.
How long have you been established in the Chippewa Valley?
The WGC is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, although the idea was conceived in 2006. That year, a small group of women came together to discuss the idea of creating a Women’s Giving Circle in the Eau Claire community. These women wanted to establish a collaborative effort in which women could work together, gather contributions, educate members about the power of collective philanthropy, and provide opportunities for hands-on involvement in awarding grants and making social investments that address the needs of women and children. The WGC was formed with this mission in mind. To establish the Fund, 103 women each pledged $1,000 payable over four years and became founding members of the Women’s Giving Circle.
The Founders agreed that grant applications would be accepted and grants would be distributed annually to programs that enhance the lives of Eau Claire area women and children. The grant cycle of the Women’s Giving Circle is separate from the grant cycle of the Eau Claire Community Foundation. Members volunteer to participate in grant review training, then read all applications and make grant recommendations for the membership as a whole to approve. The first grants were awarded in 2008, and to date $186,487 has been awarded to local nonprofit organizations.
What are the major issues you will be facing over the next 18 months?
The WGC members are working to expand their membership since the more members they have, the more funds they’ll have available for grants. They’re especially reaching out to young people by launching a Facebook page and updating their publicity materials. They currently have over 250 members but hope to reach 300 by the end of the year.
Aside from financial support, how can the Chippewa Valley community support you?
Through membership. Anyone—male or female—is welcome to join the WGC. Standard contributions are $250 per year; half of this amount supports an endowment fund to sustain future grants while 45% of that income directly supports the current year’s grants and the remaining 5% covers administrative costs. Income from the endowment fund (3 to 5%) is also made available to help support each year’s grants.
One generous member has established a “Young Philanthropists Program” to encourage people ages 22-39 to join by providing $100 a year for up to three years, toward their $250 annual contributions. A $5,000 “lifetime membership” is also available to members over age 65. Nonmembers can support the WGC by sharing information about it with any friends, family member, or colleagues who might be interested.
Who are some of the key people in your organization?
The WGC is governed by its Circle Advisory Team (CAT). The current CAT members are Jill Prushiek (Chair); Sarah Stokes (Vice Chair); Karen Eisenbarth (Secretary); and the chairs and co-chairs of its three committees: Education and Program, Grants, and Membership (see the WGC website for more information). Sue Bornick is the Executive Director of the Eau Claire Community Foundation, which administers the WGC Fund.
What is the most important thing about your organization that people should know, but don’t?
Many people simply don’t know about the WGC, which is why the membership is working so hard to expand public awareness of it. People may also assume that only women are allowed to join, but the WGC is happy to accept all new members, regardless of gender, who want to help support local women and children. Everyone is welcome to join the WGC!
— by Sue Bornick, Executive Director, Eau Claire Community Foundation
Note: If there’s a nonprofit organization that you’d like to see featured here, please let us know at email@example.com. We will update this series regularly to introduce our readers to the many people and nonprofit organizations that help keep the Chippewa Valley functioning.
If you would like more information about the Womens’ Giving Circle, click here.
To see earlier “6 of Substance” listings, click here for the Archives.
To download a copy of the “6 of Substance” questionnaire, click here.