Walking the talk: Powerful partnerships for women and girls
Now and then, foundation trustees are presented with an opportunity to “walk their talk.” We often urge nonprofits to take the risks and see the potential benefits of joining forces with others, but are sometimes hesitant to do it ourselves.
The Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation has a strong interest in supporting nonprofits in the Boston area that work on behalf of women and girls. Many of our grants support programs designed specifically to foster girls’ development and women’s self-sufficiency.
In the last four years, the Foundation has participated twice as a Social Innovation track sponsor with excellent results. The innovators supported—Girls' LEAP and My Life, My Choice—had a superb experience. Just as important, as philanthropists, we trustees were pleased to be able to call attention within the philanthropic community to the importance of carefully designed programs for women and girls.
When we considered sponsorship this year, we were concerned about the impact of the full sponsorship amount on the Foundation’s grants budget. For financial reasons, we offered to share sponsorship of a track with another like-minded funder. Social Innovation Forum Director Susan Musinsky introduced us to a group of five women donors who have worked together for years as part of the Hestia Fund, a large women’s giving circle based in Massachusetts.
After one informal and one formal meeting, our partnership is off and running. Each group brings personal and institutional grantmaking experience, a love of community, and a deep interest in serving women and girls. Our knowledge of nonprofits, while overlapping, is broadened. Together, we will do our work better at half the cost for each group. The potential for learning from each other and learning from others together is immense and satisfying. We are confident that our investments of money and time will be rewarded many times over and that our partnership with the five women donors, who are calling themselves the Vesta Vanguards, and the Social Innovation Forum will be more than the sum of its parts.
We preach the virtues of collaboration to our grantees, and it is useful to be able to use our own work as a laboratory for understanding the benefits and the challenges of cooperative endeavors. We look forward to our work with Social Innovation Forum over the next year.
Board Chair, Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation