Dining for Women has approved some changes in its funding model that will enable us to put up to another $200K to work in the world each year.
By Laura Haight
DFW Communications Director
A new funding model that will enable Dining for Women to put an extra $200,000 or more to work in the world each year was approved last month by the Board of Directors.
The changes include raising the ceiling on grants for featured programs, increasing the annual grant for sustained programs and a model to use excessive program reserve funds to support two to three additional programs each year.
Starting with programs in the second half of 2015 — the grant cycle that began on Oct. 1 — featured programs can request up to $50,000 (previously $45,000 was the ceiling); and sustained grants will increase to $20,000 each year over a three-year period (formerly $15,000).
“That’s all possible because of the incredible generosity and commitment of our members,” says co-founder Marsha Wallace. In recent years, we have seen healthy increases in monthly giving that often far-exceeded the featured program grant. That left us with a nice problem to have: More money to distribute to help empower women in the world.
When donations exceed the monthly grant, the additional donations are held in a program reserve fund. Because giving does fluctuate — dropping in the summer months and jumping up again the fall — we keep a minimum of $30,000 in it to make sure we can always fulfill our obligations.
Under the new funding model, when the reserve reaches a point where additional distributions can — and should — be made, the board will select from programs that were previously named as alternates by the Program Selection Committee. Selected programs will have their original grant request funded. Marsha stresses that “we want to put our donors’ money to work in the world.” An important aspect of the new model is that the programs eligible to receive additional funding have been fully vetted. They will be asked to confirm that all the conditions, needs and opportunities from the original grant proposal are still in place.
“We are fortunate to have many great programs that just miss out by a hair,” says Dr. Veena Khandke, interim program director. “This will let us broaden our reach and help thousands more women and girls each year. It’s an exciting opportunity for us.”
The number of alternate programs able to be funded will vary depending on the size of the reserve and the grant proposals.
“This lets us be more flexible and agile in the way we distribute grant money,” says Marsha.
Earlier this year, with the reserve fund over $100,000, the board voted its first disbursement of these funds.
“We hadn’t faced this situation before,” Marsha says, “but we knew we had to do something.” In July 2014, the board made a one-time disbursement of $75,842. to programs from the 4th quarter of 2013 through the first quarter of 2014.
“The goal was to make sure the money would be tied to donor intent,” Marsha explains, “so we identified how much we raised for each program and then designated a proportionate amount to those that most inspired our donors.” Although donors cannot give directly to sustained programs, a portion was given to the sustained programs in those months.
The process was extremely labor intensive and the board knew that it would have to come up with another way to address the issue for the long term.
Here’s how those funds were distributed: