The Power of Women in Philanthropy
Have you ever heard of a women’s giving circle? Are you aware that there is one on Hilton Head Island, and they are very interested in having you join them? “It’s important to know Women in Philanthropy is not a sorority. It’s women who have a shared vision of what we can do when we pool our resources together,” said Kathleen Bateson, founding member of Women in Philanthropy (WIP) and Vice Chair. This group of givers, open to women of the Lowcountry who pledge to make an annual donation of at least $300 or more, was founded under the leadership of The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, which continues to provide oversight, staffing, administrative support and fund management for WIP.
What started as 100 women committing to giving $1,000 a year, for three years, has grown into an endowment of more than $1,000,000 since its inception 15 years ago. In addition to growing a healthy giving fund, WIP has given $370,000 in grants to non-profit organizations throughout Beaufort County along the way. Indeed this is an organization of local women making a difference in the Lowcountry through the power of collective giving. “Women in Philanthropy is special because it allows scores of women to get together and do their own thing,” said Kaye Black, founding WIP member and 40-year Hilton Head Island resident.
“We want to dig in and find out what is needed in our community. The opportunities we see for giving literally give our neighbors a helping hand and encouragement. Each member of WIP gives what she can, but we all get to make the decision of how we give. I want all women to get the opportunity to participate,” Kaye added.
Margaret McManus, WIP Advisory Board Chair, said, “Part of our program in WIP is to educate women to become philanthropists. Many women are making as much money or more than men. There is real growth in women’s wealth and women are becoming more and more capable of being their own givers. Together we make a bigger and better impact.”
Being around other women who want to give is powerful. In only four official meetings a year, WIP members explore the philanthropic potential of women and collective giving, learn about the needs of non-profits in our community, decide how funds will be distributed, all while enjoying fellowship with other community-minded women.
“Each member gives what she can of her money and the time. We have common interests because we care about the community we live in and want to invest in it. I would have never met some of the women I now call friends and admire so much, if I had not been a member of WIP,” said Kaye.
Elizabeth Loda, WIP Advisory Board member and financial planner said, “There are three things you can do with money: Save it; spend it; and give it away. They all have merit. Save it so you know you are secure yourself. But then, when you have enough for yourself, and you start giving it away, it is a really rewarding experience. With WIP we give a large enough piece to charities to really make a difference.”
Five of the nine advisory board members shared what giving means to them. Each one has her own foundation of why, but all of them share in the platform of how: Women in Philanthropy (featured above left to right).
Kaye Black: I learned from my parents that you don’t have to be wealthy to be generous. Giving is sort of like paying your dues in the community. This community has been so good to my family. There is so much I have learned and so many ways I’ve grown by living here—personally, professionally, socially—it’s just been a wonderful experience. The generous people who live in this community are just amazing, and it’s not just the money that’s given but the time and talents that are given, too.
Susan Hooker: I can’t imagine not having a part of my life focused on giving because to me it’s a part of who I am. From a young child, I was taught I had been very blessed, and it was important to share with others. Finding Women in Philanthropy, and being able to share as group and collectively give has been a real joy. Collective giving is just very special. It comes from the heart. It’s a joyful thing to be able to do that, and it makes me feel really wonderful to be part of it.
Margaret McManus, Chair: Giving is important to me because I was given to. I was the recipient of scholarship aid and loans from people who believed in me and wanted to see me get my education. In fact, one time, I had all I needed for tuition except for $300, and I called up the mother of a friend and asked her for it. She gave it to me in a heartbeat. It always touches me. That woman did it for me, and I’m so happy to say I put a young lady through college. Once you are a recipient of a kindness like that, …it’s in your heart. You want to help others.
Elizabeth Loda: I was raised with the idea that you give to others and help them out when you can. My father made a difference in the world as a microbiologist—significant differences. His work inspired me to help make the world a better place.
Kathleen Bateson, Vice Chair: I learned to give as a child. In grade school we wrapped bandages to send over India and collected tax stamps and S&H Green stamps. It was about doing something for those in need. My parents volunteered in everything—the school, the church, but we were in need. My father was out of work for a long time, and people helped us get through that. So to me it’s about whatever you have— if I have two pennies, I’ll give one of them away. I have a great heart for people in need. And I always want to find a way to help them.
For more information on joining Women in Philanthropy call 843-681-9100 or
log onto www.cf-lowcountry.org/WorkingWithUs/GivingCircles/WomeninPhilanthropy.aspx