In my very first week at Dining for Women, I sat around a table with our Board of Directors while Barb Collins, Board Chair and Co-Founder, asked each of us to share our “Dining for Women Story”. It was my first time meeting Anne Capestrain, but she told a story I will never forget. She shared how DFW had given her the opportunity to be a part of other women’s lives and, in doing so, she was inspired and her life had been transformed. I have visited about 50 chapters this year and have heard similar stories across the country.
As we move forward with our 2020 Vision, we are finally owning what we’ve known all along: DFW is not just a pass-through for donations – we are so much more. In fact, DFW has four distinct programs: two of which we have always had and two we are adding as part of our 2020 Vision. They are:
- Grants Program
- Member Education and Engagement Program
- Advocacy Program
- Partnership Program
All of these programs serve one purpose – to fulfill our mission of ensuring gender equity and improving the lives of women and girls in the developing world.
While we have typically used the term “program” when we talk about our grants (i.e. featured program, sustained funding program), you will soon see some changes in terminology to reflect our four distinct DFW programs:
Programs: We will now use this term to refer to DFW Programs (Grants, Membership Education and Engagement, Advocacy, and Partnerships).
Organizations, Projects, Grantees: We will now refer to the nonprofits we work with as Organizations and the projects they propose as Projects. If they are funded, we will also refer to the organizations as Grantees.
To introduce you to each of the programs, here are a few comments to differentiate them:
- Grants Program:
- We evaluate almost 200 organizations each year to identify the top 12 that will be awarded featured grants.
- We coach small, grassroots organizations through the application process. This is a distinguishing feature in our Grants Program compared to other grant makers.
- After a Grantee is funded, we continue to work with the organization if major issues obstruct the progress of a project. For example, this year, we have worked with Grantees that had to move project sites because of safety concerns and economic changes in a community, as well as a Grantee that had to change a crop due to drought. We work in a cooperative manner with Grantees to ensure the desired outcomes are met and their projects are successful. We will be sharing these types of stories with you more in the future.
- We review and track grantee reports every 6 months, ensuring that the money invested in each project was spent as indicated in the application. This review is very time intensive, but ensures that your dollars are well-spent.
- Membership Education and Engagement Program
DFW currently offers a number of services for its members, and these will continue to evolve in order to create a deeper experience for members.
- Each month we provide members with comprehensive educational materials on our featured grantee:
- Video from the Grantee
- A recent video interview with a representative of the Grantee’s leadership
- Fact sheet and other presentation resources
- Information on the customs and cuisine of the featured country, along with recipes
- Food for Thought blogs
- Connections to potential speakers
- Two monthly newsletters
- The Dish is distributed to all members to keep them apprised of gender equity and poverty issues as well as DFW news and opportunities.
- The Chapter Meeting Menu is targeted specifically for Chapter Leaders and contains tips and best practices to help our chapters succeed.
- Travel Opportunities
- In 2015, we offered two travel opportunities to visit organizations we funded in Burma/Myanmar and the Dominican Republic. In 2016, we will announce new travel opportunities.
- Leadership Opportunities
- DFW is a volunteer-driven organization. We rely on more than 700 volunteers to run our chapters and our regions, mentor and support our chapters, plan events, advise staff and board members, and much more.
- As we grow, we will be providing more information and education on specific issues pertaining to our mission.
- We maintain a constantly changing Marketplace whereby we partner with companies and providers who align with our mission and offer products that would be of mutual interest and benefit for our members.
- Grassroots Advocacy Program
- DFW’s Grassroots Advocacy Program champions policies that increase equity for women and girls in developing nations. In addition to the work we do that gives a hand up to women and girls in poverty, we know that by harnessing the collective voices of our members we will also change the way the world works for women.
- In 2016, we will convene our Advocacy Committee to put into place processes for selecting the issues we will present to members. We will also begin designing methods to engage members in our grassroots advocacy campaigns.
- Partnership Program
As part of our 2020 Vision, DFW is seeking partnerships that are consistent with our values and mission. In 2016, we will be announcing our first partners. There are two types of partnerships:
- Impact Partnerships. Impact Partnerships will involve proactive investments by DFW where we can have a measurable impact on issues affecting women and girls in the developing world. These partnerships will be selected in a process involving DFW leadership, volunteer committees, and the DFW Board of Directors and will be based on the issues we are pursuing, the quality and impact of the projects, and the potential collaborative opportunities that will allow DFW to share our mission.
- Collaborative Partnerships. These partnerships are consistent with our mission and goals and provide benefits to both partners. While these partnerships will not involvement financial investments by DFW, we expect that the collaboration will help us stretch our resources, foster strong relationships in our field, and make a bigger impact in the pursuit of equity for women and girls living in extreme poverty. These partnerships will also be selected in conjunction with DFW leadership and volunteer committees.
As you can see, DFW has evolved to become an organization that is far more than a giving circle. We are an impact organization that is looking at issues from many different angles so that we can be effective leaders in achieving equity for women and girls living in extreme poverty in developing countries. Thank you so much being a part of this bold future!