WOMEN’S WAY Rapid Response General Operating Fund, Support Beyond Funding, and Data Collaboration

When COVID-19 hit, WOMEN’S WAY, along with many other funders in the region scrambled to react quickly and efficiently to the needs of organizations serving the region’s most marginalized and at-risk communities.

For WOMEN’S WAY, the transition wasn’t so difficult because we already had a rapid response funding model in place through our Immediate Response Action Fund (IRAF). When we created IRAF in 2017, we knew that urgent and unanticipated needs of community organizations couldn’t be served through twice a year grant cycles. To meet these needs, we designed a turn-around process that gives applying organizations a decision in 10 business days, which is the fastest response rate in our region. But then came the current global crisis, and we now needed to be conscious of the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on marginalized communities. Who needs the support the most? What groups are most often overlooked? To meet incredible demand, many foundations choose to fund previous grantees in order to respond quickly to applications. Because these organizations were already vetted, foundations saved time granting to organizations they have a history with, which got money moving quickly. Healthy endowments also help in times of crisis — 5% of $80 million can go a long way.

Looking further into philanthropy, there are unfortunate trends that show nonprofits who focus on women and girls receive only 1.6% of all charitable giving. In addition to this, organizations led by women of color receive less than 1% of philanthropic dollars. Given this information, isn’t that where we should be focusing? Directing our resources to organizations who are the experts in their community and providing not only emergency funding — but funding to help stabilize post-crisis became the most important element when designing the Rapid Response General Operating Fund.

Read full blog post here.