Sharing was in the air on July 14, when the Santa Barbara Foundation hosted the women’s funds and giving circles in the region including Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County, Ojai Women’s Fund, Women’s & Girls’ Fund of the Kern Community Foundation, and the Women’s Legacy Fund of The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County. Forty-five women came together in support of “connecting missions and fostering conversations” at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo.
“This was a dream of mine – to bring together women who are passionate about philanthropy and who’ve made a significant impact on women, children, and families in our communities – to share and learn from each other,” said Jan Campbell, Chief Philanthropic Officer at the Santa Barbara Foundation.
Tracy Gary, a philanthropic advisor and leader in the women’s funding movement, kicked off the afternoon with a keynote presentation. She noted that there are 180 women’s funds throughout the nation and 300 women’s giving circles. All of them are identifying problems in their communities and driving the solutions. Gary emphasized that, “It has been proven again and again that women-driven philanthropy accelerates change, yields exponential returns, and brings powerful partners to the table.”
The afternoon was filled with deep dialogue and discussion around advancement and innovation in fundraising, as well as managing leadership, goals, and transition. Successful practices and lessons learned were shared by many of the attendees. Donor education emerged as a constant theme throughout the day and Gary noted it as an area that should be prioritized. She encouraged the women to be students and to study the women’s funding movement. “For us to have a breakthrough, we really need to own the issue of women and girls,” Gary said.
The engagement in women’s philanthropy continues to grow in numbers and influence in this region of California and throughout the nation. “Community foundations are ideally suited to support these efforts as partners in grant making, fiscal sponsorship, and administration,” said Heidi McPherson, Chief Executive Officer of The Community Foundation San Luis Obispo County. “We are looking forward to collaborating with the Santa Barbara Foundation in hosting future conversations and continuing to learn from each other.”