The Women Give San Diego 2011 Grantmaking Process began in May, when we sent information on our granting criteria and a Letter of Interest form to over 100 San Diego County organizations who work with women and girls.
We received 33 Letters of Interest, which tell us a little about the organization, their programs, and what they would be requesting funding for. The committee split these up for review, and then met in mid June to choose which organizations would be asked for a full grant proposal. We were impressed by the quality of the organizations that responded and this was a VERY interesting meeting!
We were able to narrow the field to 11 organizations that we felt had great promise as partners for WGSD, who then were asked to submit a full proposal. All 11 did so, and we met again in September to review the proposals together and decide whom we would like to hear from in person. Again, this was challenging, but it was wonderful to see the quality of the work being done in San Diego on behalf of women and girls related to economic self-sufficiency.
I think I can speak for all of the committee members when I say that we were very, very impressed by the quality of all of these organizations – but since we have limited resources, we did need to narrow it down. We also always want to be respectful of an organization’s scant time resource – if the group did not feel that they had a strong chance of funding, it would not have been fair to take more of their time in the application process.
Ultimately we decided to ask for a live, ten-minute presentation from 5 of the 11 organizations. All 5 made compelling cases for support and we enjoyed meeting their representatives in person.
It is always difficult to say “no” to someone after you have met him or her in person, and this time was no exception. But we were able to narrow the field to four of the five, and various members of the committee did a site visit with each one. It’s always surprising how much more we learn at the site visit phase about the organizations and their program, and we definitely felt good about those we had chosen to take to this part of the process.
At our final meeting, the WGSD site visit representatives reported out to the full committee on what they had learned about the organizations they visited. I also presented a synopsis of the organizations’ financial health, which is an important thing to consider when making funding decisions.
We determined that 3 of the 4 best embodied WGSD’s commitment to the economic self-sufficiency of women and girls, and also provided a strong set of opportunities for involvement for our members. WGSD members are definitely interested in community engagement, and experience has shown that our engagement with our grantees is a win-win.
Finally, we created a set of two recommendations to present to our membership for approval.
These recommendations were sent out via an online survey and also presented at our November general membership meeting. The membership voted overwhelmingly to support the committee’s recommendation of funding three organizations with a two-year grant.
I would like to thank all of the WGSD members who participated on the Grantmaking Committee this year! There will continue to be opportunities for engagement and I encourage anyone who is interested in finding out more to stop in at our next meeting. This is a wonderful place to learn more about the work being done in San Diego as well as honing your own skills as a philanthropist.