In 2006, 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. With this mission in mind, Women’s Giving Circle, a Fund of the Eau Claire Community Foundation, was formed. To establish the Fund, 103 women pledged $1,000, payable over four years, and became founding members of Women’s Giving Circle.
The Founders agreed that they would accept and review grant applications from nonprofit organizations, then distribute four or more grants annually to programs that enhance the lives of women and children.
The grant cycle of Women’s Giving Circle is separate from the grant cycle of the Eau Claire Community Foundation. Grant funds are distributed yearly in December for use the following year. Members volunteer to participate in grant review training, then read all applications and make a recommendation of four or more grants for the membership as a whole to approve. The first four grants totaling $10,000 were awarded in 2007 for use in 2008.
To become a member of the Women’s Giving Circle, each woman makes a contribution of $250 annually. 50% of this contribution is added to the Women’s Endowment Fund, 45% is used to finance each year’s grants, and 5% is used to support the administrative costs of the fund. Each individual can decide how active she wishes to be in the ongoing work of the circle. By combining our collective resources of time, talent, and finances, we can achieve a greater impact than any woman could do alone.