On September 8, the WRWF Board of Directors held a board retreat. This day-long meeting capped off my first year as your President, a year that has been extraordinary across the board. From the tireless work done by so many to successfully advance our Strategic Plan to the growth in the WRWF Endowment Fund to the major adjustments made to ensure that our nonprofit partners – as well as our own organization – are able to continue delivering on our missions during a worldwide pandemic, the effort and commitment of countless WRWF members has been both inspiring and motivating. I am incredibly proud to be associated with you all and to support the work we are engaged in together.
While we have made remarkable progress this year, the first 8 months of 2020 has shown us that there is much more to do. Of the many issues laid bare, one of the most pressing for WRWF is how much our community partners rely on us. The challenges they face are immense, their need for WRWF support is growing, and our members are seeking action.
Over the past two years, the Grants Committee leadership and their dozens of team members, have been discussing and evaluating member input, researching best-practices for collective giving, examining funding impacts, identifying community needs and more. The onset of the pandemic made their work all the more critical and time-sensitive. The team proposed two policy changes for Board discussion and consideration at the retreat; both proposals were debated and enthusiastically approved. We are excited about the opportunities these revisions present to local nonprofits and the potential for much greater impact resulting from WRWF funding. The revisions are:
Impact Grant. Beginning in the 2022 grant cycle, WRWF will offer one issue-based, two-year grant of $200,000. Investing $100,000 per year for two years in an area of acute and persistent need in Blaine County will, as we’ve been saying for so long, “move the needle” at a level we have yet to achieve. This is an exciting new opportunity for WRWF! A Task Force will be appointed to study potential areas for this grant and to recommend an implementation process which will include a vote of the membership on both the issue of focus and the final grant award. The balance of the annual pooled fund will continue to be granted under the current grants policy.
Member-Designated funds. Beginning January 2021, new and renewing members who choose to designate a portion of their $1,000 WRWF donation to other nonprofits, will be able to designate up to $300 to one Idaho-based nonprofit of their choosing. Currently, members are able to designate up to $500 of their donation to up to two nonprofits located anywhere in the U.S. There are two key benefits of this revision: It further amplifies WRWF’s purpose of supporting Blaine County nonprofits. We are aware that now, more than ever, WRWF, whose mission is to fund Wood River Valley organizations, needs to commit as much funding as possible to our pooled grants fund to ensure the continued viability of our community partners. The policy will allow donations to organizations headquartered elsewhere in Idaho since many provide nonprofit services in Blaine County such as the Idaho Conservation League and the Lee Pesky Learning Center.
WRWF and our working partner, ICF, will capture administrative cost savings as the number of checks that will have to be written and distributed to more than a hundred nonprofits across the country will be significantly reduced.
The women of our Membership Committee have also been hard at work over the past year researching membership traits at WRWF’s sister collective giving foundations and developing ideas around enhancing our members’ experience. The Membership team brought the following proposal to the board for consideration which was approved at the retreat:
50-And-Under At 50%. Beginning January 2021, this optional WRWF membership program enables women age 50 and under to join and/or renew as voting members for 50% of the full donation cost. Members in this category would pay $500 into the pooled grants fund plus the $100 administrative fee. This category does not allow for member-designated funding of other nonprofits.
WRWF’s demographics are significantly underrepresented in the 50-And-Under age range; the board joins the committee in enthusiastically supporting this effort to encourage participation by younger women who will, after all, be necessary for the long-term sustainability of the organization. Please encourage and/or help fund the membership of your 50-And-Under relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbors – we need them as our future leaders!
Again, I continue to be impressed by the commitment of the dozens of women who have stepped-up to the volunteer work of this organization. Your creativity, dedication, professionalism and willingness to embrace new ways of thinking are making us stronger and setting WRWF up for even greater impact in the important work we do in Blaine County. On behalf of the Board of Directors, thanks to all of you for being women who care.
Terri Bullock, President