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RSF Women’s Fund offers new initiative ‘The Above and Beyond Campaign’

At last year’s Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund Grant Celebration
At last year’s Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund Grant Celebration (l-r, current titles): Grants Co-Chairs Mara Buchholz and Nikki Carmody Ream, Past Board Chair Candise Holmlund and Board Chair Susan Hoehn.
(Robert McKenzie)

The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund has a new initiative: The Above and Beyond Campaign. This campaign is meant to draw donations from the community of Rancho Santa Fe and beyond from people who are in the organization or not. Everyone is invited to contribute to the campaign as a way of efficiently addressing the needs of the community through monetary donations. Many in the community would appreciate the thorough vetting the Women’s Fund does to responsibly and efficiently give grants to worthy organizations that apply each year to the fund. The chance to use this service is now open to all.

The donations can be made to Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund designated “Above and Beyond” and mailed to P.O. Box 811, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067, tax # 95-3709639 All money donations will go 100% to the selected well-vetted community organizations which will be selected for grants this May. Visit the RSF Women’s Fund website at www.rsfwomensfund.org/Contact-Us/

Below is an interview done by Candise Holmlund, past chair of RSF Women’s Fund, representing the Women’s Fund asking questions to an anonymous donor who was a member of the Women’s Fund and who now supports the organization with a $100,000 donation per year for the past three years and for three years going forward.

Q&A:

Candise Holmlund: Thank you so much so for your generous support of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation Women’s Fund over the last three years. We are so excited that you have agreed to extend your partnership for another three years! Using the Women’s Fund as a tool for due diligence and to direct your giving is a tremendous way to invest in our community. Let’s start with a little background: Please describe how you think about philanthropy within the community?

Donor: My husband and I think of philanthropy as an investment in our community—as an attempt to meet immediate needs. But also many times we also try to orient our gifts towards efforts that will not only meet immediate needs but consider whether this current donation will leverage the situation for future benefits. This way our donation will be developing a change within communities for the long run. We like to think about how the donations we give will be most effective now and in the future.

Candise: That’s a great answer! Do you try to follow the organizations you have donated to? How do you find the organizations that you have the most confidence in to give donations?

Donor: We generally try to follow the organizations we invest in, and honestly that’s one of the things we have appreciated about how the Women’s Fund does their philanthropy. A donor wants to watch not only what you give at the front end but to evaluate its efficacy on the back end as well. It’s critical for us to know if what we invested in has made a difference or has had the outcome we were looking for, or whether a change was made. We look for organizations that have the capacity to carry on beyond the initial investment or the initial project. Sometimes things are one and done because of an urgent need like Covid, but most often we like to be involved on a multi-year basis.

Candise: You’re right! This is something that the Women’s Fund does very well and takes great pride in. The Women’s Fund follows through with organizations that it gives grants to and makes sure the work was done.

Candise: What attracted you to invest in the community through the Women’s Fund in the first place?

Donor: When we moved into this community we wanted to get involved. I learned about the Women’s Fund. It was a great way to meet like-minded women in my community and I joined. The education I received through the Women’s Fund helped me integrate my personal giving with others and find out ways to help with needs in San Diego and the charities that are trying to meet those needs. We were looking for and found in the RSFWF a really high quality, community-based, goal-oriented process for making grants that goes beyond what most individuals are able to do.

Candise: What about the grants investigative process in the Women’s Fund attracted you?

Donor: It was attractive to me that we were giving grants in the local community through this highly effective and polished vehicle. Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is a group of well-intentioned women, who work as equals, through a collective process. Everybody contributed funds, everybody gave of their time to the extent that they could, and then everyone had a vote on how funds were distributed at the end of the process. It is a democratic process; basically, all the women get to decide what happens to the money they donate. The pooled resources model is very credible.

Candise: You and your husband have made great impacts in our community with your studied giving. How did you come to the conclusion that of all the great ways to give in our community, the Women’s Fund was the one that you would give a substantial donation to every year?

Donor: We are looking for the best organizations in the community to partner with. One of the things we learned over the years in trying to manage our own philanthropy is that it is easy to give money away and hard to give money away well! Anybody can write a check, but a lot more is required in the process of figuring out which organizations really need funding, what community needs should be addressed, and what organization and projects are stable. Then, of course, there is the difficult process of following up to know that your funds were used as intended and produced the results that were hoped for. This is a challenging time-consuming process. As individuals you can only do so much of that and do it all well.

We see that the RSFWF is already doing this very thing — and doing it very well. We have worked with the Women’s Fund and are confidant that the grant making is being done with great seriousness, an open mind, and with a process that really works. It doesn’t make sense to try to recreate all of that on one’s own. We could piggyback on their effort. It was a “turn-key” way of giving in a highly effective manner. And because I had been a member for a number of years I knew it was done to a really, really high standard. My husband and I realized our gifts would get to the community in a more effective way than if we did it on our own, and it would be done with a much broader view of focus areas and organizations within the community.

Candise: Do you have anything you would like to say to fellow philanthropists?

Donor: We have confidence that the Women’s Fund is doing a conscientious job of giving away monies or grants. You can clearly see the impact made over their 17-year history. They go through an impressive process of vetting the organizations —from review of the applications by the grants committees, through the onsite visits where they see the how organization operates, to the very thoughtful presentations of the finalists to the membership. All steps are done with a professional warm-hearted kind of reviewing. Their process insures that the best, the strongest and the most sustainable organizations are funded. It is a group of highly-dedicated women committed to alleviating difficulties in our community.

We think it is an excellent way to donate wisely and leverage our resources to make an impact on our community. It allows a donor to expand their philanthropic efforts and allows them to meet the needs within the community in a larger way. Community members who may have their own donor advised fund or personal foundation could decide to use the Women’s Fund as a resource to channel their giving and to have more impact. From our experience it is a good way to multiply the effectiveness of our giving. We highly endorse the Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund and encourage others in the community to take advantage of this resource.


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