Last August, after several meetings, many lively discussions and amid much laughter and cheers, 19 women in Wilmington launched the Women’s Impact Network of New Hanover County with the mission of maximizing women’s leadership in philanthropy and strengthening the local community through collective giving. 

By pooling their resources into a common grant fund, the Network, which now has 40 members, will distribute $20,000 this summer to a local nonprofit through a competitive grant process.

These women cover the spectrum in terms of age, professions, experience and interests and recognize the power of collective giving.  However, they also realize that they now have a collective responsibility to be good stewards of their grant fund.

WIN member Laurie Taylor, who also serves on the New Hanover County Community Foundation board, put it very succinctly.  “It is easy to give away money,” she said.  “It is really hard to give it away well.”

Network members will now get to personally experience the joys and challenges of informed grantmaking.  Last month they invited more than 60 local nonprofits to apply for a grant, and they now have 31 proposals to consider.

After a nonprofit evaluation training session, WIN grant committee members will review all the proposals and select five finalists.  Those nonprofit organizations will then submit full grant applications, and each Network member gets one vote to select the final grant recipient.

“Instead of just writing a check, we have the opportunity to learn how to make good choices and see the impact our money has in our community,” said WIN member Dana Jaunzemis. 

So, if you had $20,000, how would you give it away?

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