Connecting the Women of Boone County
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Submitted and JJ Kaplan
A little more than a year ago, a group of dedicated women from Boone County created an opportunity for the women of the county who were looking for a way to give back while meeting other like-minded ladies. This group of phenomenal women created Women of Impact (WOI), a philanthropic women’s group coordinated by the Community Foundation of Boone County (CFBC). WOI was designed to provide financial support for local nonprofit organizations while creating a sense of community.
Community Foundation of Boone County
In 1990, the Lilly Endowment had a vision for communities across Indiana to build permanent endowments to support development and quality of life in our state. Determining that local citizens were the best experts on the needs in their community, this vision manifested in the form of supporting the development of a community foundation in each of Indiana’s 92 counties, including Boone. CFBC was founded in 1991 with the help of caring Boone County residents, $15,000 and a series of statewide matching grants from the Lilly Endowment initiative called Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT).
Since 1991, CFBC has granted over $20 million from its various funds to nonprofit organizations and programs working to solve county-wide challenges throughout Boone County.
The Community Impact Fund (CIF) is the Community Foundation of Boone County’s largest unrestricted endowment pool of dollars and can be used for various projects, programs and initiatives that improve the quality of life in Boone County.
How WOI Works
In its first year, WOI has grown to 166 members county-wide and has made a considerable impact on the community, donating over $50,000 directly to Boone County organizations. In 2017, WOI awarded $54,260 to four nonprofits: Boone County Cancer Society, Lebanon Area Boys & Girls Club, Humane Society for Boone County and Sylvia’s Child Advocacy Center. The same year, WOI added $14,420 to the Women’s Fund endowment.
WOI members commit to donating $100 annually to the Women’s Fund endowment at the Community Foundation of Boone County and additional quarterly donations, based on membership type, to support the four nonprofits selected by the members throughout the year.
“The foundation exists to support the nonprofits of our community,” explained Gabi Youran, director of community relations at CFBC. “CFBC connects donors to the causes that they care about. WOI is a program with the foundation that was created by some dedicated women who were exploring new ways to utilize the Women’s Fund endowment. After several meetings and discussions, the group of women decided that the simplest and most effective way to implement positive change within the community would be to organize a giving circle program. WOI is modeled after 100 Women Who Care, a national model that started in Cleveland, Ohio. We adopted that model and tweaked it as we saw fit for our community. We had a great first year. It went beyond our expectations as far as numbers and the impact that we made. Our goal was to have 100 members by the end of the first year. We had 100 members at the end of our first quarterly meeting.”
With more than 85 percent of its membership recommitting for 2018, Youran and her fellow WOI members feel optimistic that they will reach the goal of 100 members once again.
Jane Perkins was one of the original organizers of WOI, along with Youran and Susan Albers. All three women are Zionsville residents. “The giving circle concept interested us because it is such an approachable model,” Perkins said. “We just knew right away that it was a right fit for what we were trying to accomplish. We knew there were women in Boone County who cared and wanted to support the nonprofits, but it was just overwhelming to know where to begin. The giving circle is a good way for women in Boone County to get involved.”
Albers spoke about the educational arm of WOI and how the members select the nonprofits to which they award grants. “The educational component is beautiful because the women who attend learn about different nonprofits that are in the county every time we meet,” she said. “We hear about three different nonprofits that are presented at each meeting. You’re learning more about these different nonprofits and can get further involved if you would like to. Members get to nominate a nonprofit, and they throw a name in a hat when they arrive. Then later on that evening, three of those names are chosen from the hat, and if yours is chosen, you get up and present before the membership.”
“You are given five minutes to present, and then there is a five-minute period for questions,” Perkins said. “Afterwards, the members vote on the recipient based on those presentations.”
Whitestown resident and WOI member Vickie Hall enjoys the component of getting to know who “wins” by the end of the meeting. “We all get to know by the end of the night, which is really fun,” Hall said. “You get that instant gratification that night of knowing exactly where your money went and who it’s going to help.”
The selected nonprofit is invited to speak at the following WOI meeting to explain how the grant money was used, adding an element of accountability to the giving circle model.
Zionsville resident Audra Poe said, “WOI is not only a great way for multi-generation women in our community to get together, but it brings the younger donors into an atmosphere where they can feel comfortable, and it also gives some of the more obscure nonprofits more exposure.”
CFBC board member and Thorntown resident Jennifer Scott talked about membership options. She stressed that while shared members get the right to a vote, it is a shared vote between the two members. “General members get to vote at the meetings,” Scott said. “If you’re sharing a membership, meaning you each pay $250, then you only get one vote between you. You want to make sure that the person you are sharing a membership with is like-minded and has the same views going into a vote because you could end up being torn over which nonprofit to vote for at the meeting.”
WOI offers a general membership, shared membership and also an associate membership. The associate membership was established for women under the age of 30 who can enjoy a reduced financial commitment while being sponsored by a general member until the associate member turns 30. It is a way to engage younger women who are becoming established and may not be in a position to maintain the general or shared membership fee requirements.
The WOI first quarter meeting is March 21 in the Cardinal Room at the Golf Club of Indiana. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with networking, appetizers and a cash bar until 6 p.m. The meeting begins promptly at 6 p.m. and concludes at 7 p.m.
For more information on CFBC, WOI and membership information, contact Gabi Youran, director of community relations, at [email protected].
Tentatively, 2018 meetings will be held on March 21, May 9, August 29 and November 28. We will begin the evening with a social time at 5:30 p.m. Meetings start at 6 p.m. and conclude at 7 p.m.
$500 annual commitment
$100 to Endowment
$100 each quarter
May sponsor member(s)
$250 annual commitment
$50 to Endowment
$50 each quarter
Must join with partner
One vote per pair
$100 annual commitment
$20 to Endowment
$20 each quarter
Must be under 30