March 1, 2023

A Fund for Women Endowment Celebrates 30 Years

By Sarah White, AFFW Advisory Committee Secretary

In 1993, when Jane Coleman called on a group of generous women to start an endowment fund, it still was not common for women to be involved in philanthropy. This group of women came together to start a fund that would prioritize creating new opportunities for women and girls in Dane County – both by developing women as philanthropists and by providing grants to nonprofit organizations to enhance education and employment opportunities for women and girls. The original donors to A Fund for Women (AFFW), which is a partner fund of Madison Community Foundation (MCF), raised $100,000 to create an endowed fund that would provide this support in perpetuity.

Growing and Giving

The $100,000 endowment those women raised in 1993 has since grown to nearly $4 million, and the number fundholders has swelled to 42 funds, with numerous other people making donations to the fund.

Part of AFFW’s growth has come because of generous legacy gifts from donors. Legacy giving (making a gift through your estate plan or will) offers many people an opportunity to commit to a more substantial donation than they would be able to make during their lifetime. Whether they have named AFFW as a beneficiary of their Individual Retirement Account (IRA), or included a gift in their will, AFFW’s Legacy Society members are committed to helping women and girls in Dane County thrive.

Recognizing the benefit of legacy giving, and its potential for involving new people in the Fund, AFFW created a Legacy Circle in 2018. To provide momentum, Jane Coleman pledged to contribute $1,000 for each new legacy commitment made, with a goal of securing 25 new commitments. Since then, 25 people have designated a legacy gift to AFFW, providing an impact on its grantmaking far into the future.

AFFW’s annual reports have highlighted Legacy Society members over the years, with members sharing both what AFFW means to them personally, and how easy including the Fund in their estate plans has been.

Jan Gietzel served as Executive Director of AFFW from 2004 through 2013. She joined the Legacy Society in 2018. “Growing up, I experienced the limitations of my gender. In college, the women’s movement brought me to a new way of thinking. Now, I see how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. I joined the Legacy Society to help A Fund for Women continue to fight for women’s equality long after I’m gone.”

Making a Difference Far Into the Future

In 2022, thanks to endowment growth including legacy gifts realized, AFFW was able to award $139,000 in grants to community organizations supporting women’s economic stability. That is nearly 40% more than the entire endowment in 1993. (The amount available for grantmaking each year is determined by MCF’s spending policy, which typically ranges between 4% and 5% of the fund’s value over the past 20 quarters.)

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