Women’s Giving Circle: Making a Difference

August 09, 2012

We talked to Barb and Kathy, two board members of the Women’s Giving Circle, a fund of the Columbia foundation, serving women and girls in Howard County, Maryland, and learned how the group uses Kona to meet their fundraising goals. The work they do is truly inspiring, and we love that they are devoted Kona users, making change one step at a time. Thanks for sharing with us, ladies!

The Women’s Giving Circle is made up of a group of women who pool the money they raise together to make a difference in the county for women and girls. With the money raised, the group is able to create grants that they then give back out to other non-profits they feel fit into their mission. Just last year, the group developed the Young Women’s Giving Circle, a philanthropy program for high school girls which allowed them to select organizations they could raise money for through bake sales and other fundraising events. For 2012 the girls donated to the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County and the Girls on the Run program.

One of the biggest fundraising events the group participates in is an annual Iron Girl competition. There are 75 women from the group on “The Circle Team” who train and compete together to raise money for the organization. Kathy, chair of the youth development committee, became involved with The Women’s Giving Circle through this event. She says preparing for the event involves a lot of group communication, sharing of tips, and scheduling times to get together to go biking, swimming, or running, but it’s a lot of fun.

In addition to the fundraising events, the group’s annual meeting is a big event and a lot goes into planning it. With eight different women on the planning committee who work full time and volunteer, coordinating the promotional materials, agendas, speaking points, venues and caterers can be difficult. Without having a consistent email system, file sharing space or updated calendar, important things get lost in email and sharing documents isn’t easy. A decision was made to use Kona for planning the annual meeting, and when the women stepped into Kona for the first time, they all loved it. Now one centralized document exists in Kona to walk the committees and volunteers through their needs and responsibilities.

Kona has really changed the way this large group operates and plans events. It not only cuts back on trails of texts, emails and phone calls that travel between volunteers, but it also gives the women some time back. Barb, chair of the communications committee, was happy to tell us that the group was able to eliminate the three-hour monthly executive meetings and in place added just a half hour to their board meeting. As a result, they have become much more efficient in the sharing of information. Barb is a communications expert and thinks that Kona is fantastic! She’s been spreading the word about Kona to other organizations and has seen it take off.

Not only has Kona boosted productivity levels within the group, but it has also helped to increase the number of volunteers who participate in discussions. In a group setting, there are always some people who refrain from speaking up. But it’s easy to join a chat in Kona, and the more that is said, the faster the results will come. The social competition within the Women’s Giving Circle space has encouraged members to volunteer suggestions more frequently. They are communicating with each other more during the time between meetings, and this keeps conversations active and engaging.

Thanks again to Kathy and Barb for sharing their story! The group is doing amazing charitable work, so check out their Facebook page and see where you can help make a difference too.

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