With its latest round of grants — $580,870 awarded at its annual meeting on May 14 — Greenville Women Giving has given more than $6 million to 79 Greenville County nonprofits. Founded in 2006 as a special initiative of the Community Foundation of Greenville, the group annually makes grants of $50,000 to $100,000 to fund projects designed to strengthen the community in five focus areas: arts and culture, education, environment, health, and human services.
This year, 75 members served on the Grants Review Committee, reviewing 76 applications and visiting the sites of 44 organizations. The review process, developed over 13 years, is structured and thorough, generating spirited engagement on the part of GWG members and providing unique opportunities for nonprofits to network and share their stories.
Beverly Ward, Grants Committee chair, said narrowing the list of potential recipients is always difficult and GWG members work diligently to select the strongest proposals to receive funding. Applications are reviewed and evaluated several times throughout the process. After site visits, grants moving forward are presented to the full committee. Later, a Ballot Showcase allows agencies to present a two-minute overview of their project to the entire GWG membership. The ballot, with about 15–20 nominees, goes out to each member for the final decision.
“We take pride that the process is thorough but fair. What impresses me consistently is how invested these smart, passionate ladies of the Grant Review Committee are,” Ward said. “Involvement in the grant review process educates you, as well. Learning about these programs can’t help but tug at your heartstrings.”
This year’s recipients are Children’s Cancer Partners of the Carolinas, city of Greenville Parks and Recreation Department, Habitat for Humanity, Pendleton Place (a child welfare and family stabilization agency), Senior Action, SWITCH (a nonprofit working to end human trafficking), and YouthBASE (provider of after-school and summer programs).
Diane Perlmutter, one of Greenville Women Giving’s four co-chairs, said educating members about local organizations and highlighting unique programs is another important function of the group. In addition to making grants, GWG presents a program and panel discussion each year on a topic of interest in each of the five focus areas. Recent programs covered gentrification, the opioid epidemic, the teacher shortage, and the role of the arts in social awareness.
Collective giving is one of the fastest-growing trends in philanthropy, and with more than 560 members, GWG is among the largest in the country, Perlmutter said. The group, whose motto is “Giving collectively, granting strategically, growing a greater Greenville,” is open to any woman who commits to donating $1,200 per year for three years. Its retention rate is over 90%.
“You can join and be as engaged as you want. Different times of our lives have different demands, so we’re very flexible,” she said. “It’s great for newcomers — in addition to meeting like-minded women, you really learn about organizations in Greenville County. We recently surveyed our members and found that 43 percent became a first-time volunteer and 15 percent took a board position at a nonprofit they learned about through Greenville Women Giving.”
Ward said even agencies not chosen to receive funding say applying for a GWG grant is worth it for the exposure they get and the opportunity to introduce their nonprofits to so many new people.
“You can’t fathom how many committed professionals are working every day to make our community viable for everybody,” Ward said. “Greenville Women Giving is glad to be a part of the process and part of the solution to create a healthy community.”
For more information about Greenville Women Giving, visit greenvillewomengiving.org.