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Women train to run for office

Propelling Women Candidates

// October 2, 2018

WFCO Donor-Advised Fund Boosts Civic Engagement

Through civic engagement, we all have the power to strengthen our shared community. With practical training and hands-on tools, more and more women are raising up their voices, taking on new leadership opportunities, and being heard. National, nonpartisan organization VoteRunLead is at the center of this important work, and their Colorado efforts have been amplified by a donor-advised grant from a fund held at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado.

Evaluating the systemic impact of their fund

Started in the fall of 2016 to maintain friends’ connections, Soeurs de Coeur, a WFCO donor-advised fund, centers on four women’s shared passion for supporting other women and girls. Honorary Trustees Kelly Condon, Deb Luginbuhl, Lisa Pease, and Pamela Smith met through their service on WFCO’s board of trustees. When life scattered them across the country, they created a donor-advised fund.

Late in 2017, the donors created lists of the issues currently at the top of their minds, and found that they were all interested in advancing civic engagement.

“We all hold the belief that when women are involved in decisions in corporate, public, or private arenas, the outcomes are better,” explained Lisa Pease. “It’s been shown that women work more across the aisle, they develop consensus, and they generally have other women and their families, as well as men, at the forefront of much of their thought process. We felt being involved in civic engagement had the greatest potential for systemic impact, and it felt especially timely.”

Focusing on women interested in running for officeRun As You Are Training

The Women’s Foundation offered to support the Soeurs de Coeur by reaching out to three local and national organizations that WFCO knew were doing great work to see what each organization might do with a donor-advised grant. Together, the fundholders reviewed the thoughtful proposals, and decided to fund VoteRunLead.

“VoteRunLead said that this grant could double their impact in Colorado. Their proposal was very compelling,” said Renee Ferrufino, vice president of development at WFCO. Soeurs de Coeur awarded the nonprofit a generous $25,000 grant.

With the grant, VoteRunLead expanded outreach and access for women interested in running for office across Colorado, especially in rural areas. Staff now had the resources to partner with Colorado 50-50 to hold a “Run As You Are” training in Fort Collins last spring with 52 current candidates, potential candidates, and women who want to help other women win. They also have plans to host an event on the Western Slope.

Removing barriers to active participation in our democracy

Importantly, VoteRunLead can offer reduced registration fees so that cost is not a barrier to participating, just as it should not be a barrier to active participation in our democracy.

In early 2019, VoteRunLead plans to host a multi-city “How to Run for Office” event, with parts of Colorado serving as one of several hub locations for the thousands of women estimated to attend. The organization is well on its way toward its goal of training 30,000 more women by 2020.

“Ultimately, WFCO is at the heart of our Colorado connections: to women’s networks on the ground there, and to the issues and challenges that are relevant to Colorado women,” explained Amanda O’Donell, COO of VoteRunLead.

The four Soeurs de Coeur are thrilled to see the progress so far.

“We hope that, at the end of this grant, more women are successful in midterm elections at whatever level they’re running,” said Lisa.

Donor-advised funds at WFCO, started for as little as $2,500, receive a $2,500 match, amplifying fundholders’ investments back into the community. For more information about donor-advised funds at WFCO or VoteRunLead, contact Camisha Lashbrook at

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