What we do
Women - Cisgender and transgender women, and anyone else who identifies as a woman.
Ninety-nine girlfriends engages women of Portland Metro/SW Washington to invest in the community through collective action. We are a group of women who learn about the needs in our community and come together, pooling our funds and resources, to make large impact gifts which can help address local issues in a big way.
Ninety-nine girlfriends believes in the power of collective giving to create transformative change in our community of Portland Metro/SW Washington. We are an inclusive women’s collective giving organization that provides opportunities for learning and grant-making to engage local women in our community. We strive for impact by making significant grants and becoming more informed and engaged philanthropists.
How we do it
This is how we turn $1,000 into a meaningful $100,000 gift. We do it by pooling our resources. Each of us contributes $1,100 annually with $1,000 going towards an annual cycle of grant making. Together we examine our community's needs, review opportunities and select one group to receive a $100,000 grant to be spent on furthering their mission, through work which requires significant funding. We award grants that address one of five issues that affect our community: (1) Arts & Culture (2) Education & Lifelong Learning, (3) Environment & Sustainability, (4) Family & Human Services, and (5) Heath & Wellness. By educating ourselves and sharing our passions and values, our grant making helps our region while enhancing our individual philanthropy. If we have additional dollars over the $100,000 grants we had planned, we offer Finalist and other awards.
How it began
Co-founders Eileen Brady and Deborah Edward met for the first time at a social event in SE Portland in Spring 2015. In a conversation around the kitchen table, Deborah talked about the lack of accessible pathways for women to be active philanthropists. She described the success of "giving circles" as a way to strengthen and focus women's philanthropy. She explained how Impact Austin had assembled 100 women who each give $1,000 and collectively select one organization to receive a $100,000 grant to jump start a big project. The first year initiative in Austin attracted 127 women, and has resulted in a 10-year success story of giving $100,000 grants - now to 5 organizations each year. Eileen replied that we can do this in Portland. That confidence started it all. Over the summer and fall of 2015, Eileen, Deborah and Jinx Faulkner visited with other women's groups involved in collective giving and brought together a group of local advisors to help frame the initiative. With great input from the Women's Collective Giving Grantmakers Network aka Catalist (there are more than 46 groups doing this in the US!), the Washington Women's Foundation, the Women's Foundation of Oregon and others, we’ve created a process for getting started. In our first years, we are borrowing considerably from the Impact 100 collective giving model.
What makes this important
Ninety-nine girlfriends is a unique opportunity for Portland Metro/SW Washington women to make a difference by learning about and funding activities to address community needs. This is a local initiative of women from diverse perspectives united by shared passions for making the world a better place. We make a single contribution that is large ($1,100) and turn it into a substantial gift of $100,000 for a community organization. It allows us to be strategic in our giving, make a real impact while learning from experts and one another.
Key organizational values
Collective: We believe in the power of collective giving. By bringing women for collective philanthropy, we have a profound impact on our community.
Impact: We are motivated by having transformative impact in our four-county region.
Parity: The organization is dedicated to parity. Everyone contributes the same amount each year. And every woman has one vote for our grantmaking decisions.
Transparency: We share our process, our decision making steps, our finances.
Interaction: We believe in the power of connection and friendship. All of our events will have a conversation component. We have so much to learn from each other.
Empowerment: By educating ourselves about our community needs and dynamics, we move from being donors to strategic investors and partners in our community.
Inclusivity: We welcome all individuals who identify as a woman and have a connection to the Portland Metro/SW Washington region to join us. We believe our organization and grantmaking are stronger when diverse voices participate. We create opportunities for women who cannot make the full financial contribution through sponsored membership, our Fellows program, or a special accommodation.
Decentralized leadership: To pull off this endeavor, there are many tasks. We trust each other to lead and make decisions with the core values of the organization in mind.
Diversity of Perspectives. We represent different age groups, backgrounds, life experiences, expertise and perspectives. We continually seek to make our membership more diverse and dynamic.
Volunteer: We do not have a staff. When you hear, “they will do it,” always remember “they” is “us.”
Choose Your Level of Involvement: The only membership requirement is to donate and participate in the vote. You are invited to be more involved by joining or leading a team working on recruitment, grant making, events or communication.
Agility: We value the ability to change focus, direction, structure, or priorities in response to our community.
Generosity: We strive to err on the side of generosity in understanding issues, responding to needs, and working together.
Learning: We are a learning community, and embrace opportunities to learn from mistakes, successes and others.
Accessibility: We work hard to ensure that all our members and grantee partners feel included and connected.
Who is involved?
We are a group of women who are smart, fun, open and thoughtful. Members represent various ages, cultural backgrounds, personal experiences and passions. Members are women who share a strong affiliation to the four-county area of greater Portland.
We seek women who want to be part of something big. Women who are curious about how to make change, open to sharing perspectives and learning. Women who are philanthropic, and want to be more strategic in how they spend their charitable dollars.
Is this you?