I had the pleasure recently to attend an event geared towards women entrepreneurs and leaders in western North Carolina. The theme was money – making it, managing it, cultivating it, creating opportunities with it. One of the speakers was a local financial advisor. She told us that she starts off every meeting with new clients by asking them the same question: “What do you want out of your money?” She said the most common answers usually fall along gender lines – men typically say that they seek power and influence through money, while women usually reply that they want stability and to provide for their families. I realized that I must be in the right job, because my answer would be that I want my money to do something good. I want to be able to give back, address needs and have some impact. I would like to make a difference, whether it be in people’s lives or in the world. Therefore, I’m inspired by stories of female philanthropists who have worked or are working hard to do just that – give back.
I enjoy hearing the iconic giving stories of the North Carolina Community Foundation – and if you haven’t treated yourself to reading some, visit The Back Story section of our website! There are several empowering tales of female philanthropists. I’m always particularly moved when I think about Ernestine J. Williams. Mrs. Williams grew up in Harnett County in the 1920s, and her family couldn’t afford to send her to college. She worked hard and was shrewd, savvy – she purchased Humble Oil stock (what later became ExxonMobile) in the 1930s, well ahead of her time. She grew a successful furniture business and became a fixture in Johnston County. Starting an endowment fund with the North Carolina Community Foundation was her way of leaving a legacy, but it wasn’t about being remembered. It was about providing young people with the opportunities she never had. Today, the Ernestine J. Williams Scholarship sends three students every year from Johnston County public high schools to college and supports them through four years of their college education.
Not only do we have inspiring fundholders, we also have a number of women’s giving groups across the state where women come together and pool their contributions in order to make larger grants to organizations in their communities. The power of the purse takes on a whole new meaning with these active groups.
I love being a part of an organization that can help women – and men! – achieve their philanthropic goals. You don’t have to be an Oprah Winfrey or a J.K. Rowling to be a philanthropist with us. And we can help your money work for you through sound investment stewardship and professional and reliable counsel on all areas of philanthropy, like grantmaking, giving, marketing, legal and accounting. Let us help you achieve what you want with your money. Let us help you make a difference.