A celebration of grantmaking sparked the creation of the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN). The idea to form a network of women’s collective giving groups gained traction at a 2008 Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation (IWCF) event marking $1 million in grants.
Visiting leaders similar grantmaking groups agreed that regular communication, learning, and sharing of best practices would strengthen and accelerate the burgeoning women’s collective giving movement. By then, more than 13 collective grantmaking groups were operating across the nation.
WCGN Is Born
In the summer of 2009, Colleen Willoughby, founder of Seattle’s Washington Women's Foundation (WWF) and widely recognized as the founder of the collective giving movement, organized a meeting with leaders from all over the country. The group agreed on a purpose and structure and the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network was born as a volunteer-led, virtual organization open to all collective giving organizations. In the fall of 2009, WCGN initiated its flagship program, a series of monthly educational conference calls (September–May) and committed to holding regular conferences.
WCGN Conferences Held in San Diego and Austin
During the summers of 2010 and 2011, the WCGN Leadership Team met to further refine and solidify the organization. A second conference was held in San Diego in March 2011 in coordination with the San Diego Women’s Foundation’s 10-year anniversary. More than 90 women attended. By this time, more than 20 collective giving groups belonged to WCGN. The founding Leadership Team included Colleen Willoughby, Laura Midgley, and Alison Wilson from WWF (WA); Virginia Mills from GIVING WoMN in Minneapolis (MN); Vicky Coelho and Susan Smith from IWCF (ID), Tracy Johnson from San Diego Women’s Foundation (CA); Katy Peek from Women’s Fund El Dorado (CA); Rebecca Powers from Impact Austin (TX); Vicki Sheehan from Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund (MO); and Karen Wilson from Impact Giving (CA).
In the summer of 2012 under the leadership of Vicki Sheehan of the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund and Virginia Mills of GIVING WoMN, the WCGN Leadership Team was formally established and the team made plans to meet annually. The team developed the 2012-2013 Call Topic Calendar, supported planning for a conference hosted by Impact Austin in October 2012, and launched both member and public websites.
WCGN Incorporates as a Nonprofit
In October 2013 WCGN gained 501(c)3 status and the eight-member Leadership Team became the founding board with the following officers: Laura Midgley, Chair; Virginia Mills, Vice Chair; Susan Smith, Treasurer; and Sue Priester, Secretary. Officers and a full board of directors were elected at the WCGN’s first annual meeting in St. Louis. Starting April 30, 2014 WCGN member organizations will be required to pay $200 per organization annually to support the network’s operations. Currently, 49 collective giving groups from 24 different states and two countries are members.