Blog & News 

President and CEO Lauren Casteel

What Drives Women’s Philanthropy?

// June 26, 2018

A Letter from Lauren: Breaking Bread, Building Community

Women are a growing force in philanthropy. Through their giving, they are embracing their power as leaders and agents of change. Research shows that at the heart of women’s philanthropy is their commitment to advancing gender equity—to boosting other women over the barriers they broke through on their own way to career success.

At WFCO, we connect with, learn from, and build community alongside philanthropic women every day. This year, I’ve had the chance to join with over two-dozen impressive Colorado women at WFCO dinner parties. I’ve shared meals with leaders and businesswomen from all identities and diverse backgrounds who are at a point in their lives that they’ve achieved economic security. Now, they are turning their attention to strengthening Colorado and supporting their sisters across the state.

Community experiences drive women’s philanthropy

What I’ve been struck with at these small, casual dinners is not these women’s career paths and achievements – though they are incredibly impressive – or their philanthropy – though that, too, is notable. Instead, as I listened to each woman share her life’s journey, I noticed a common theme in their stories: the significant role that community played in their success.

These women described how others opened doors for them to education, to training that led to management positions, or to capital to start a business. Some women faced even more harrowing barriers, and had to escape from dangerous domestic violence situations with the aid of community organizations and kind neighbors. Others told of parents who cheered as they were the first in their families to attend college and later broke barriers in their fields.

Though their paths and backgrounds were very different, their communities – from immediate family to nonprofit organizations – rose up and embraced each of them, propelling them forward. People were on their side, advocating for them as they blasted through barriers that stood in their way.

WFCO is an authentic community built on a love of human kind

As we listened to and learned from one another over dinner, we made new connections and created a supportive, authentic community of our own, one that began with a meal and extended past that evening. These dinners are a microcosm of who we are at WFCO: an authentic community moving toward impact through philanthropy that strengthens our state in countless ways.

Each of the women I dined with had different passions, from domestic violence prevention and intervention to providing job training for single mothers. Their generous philanthropy advances different tools and strategies, each of which offers a different piece of the puzzle that builds pathways to economic security.

The Greek roots of the word philanthropy translate to love of human kind. Through philanthropy, we demonstrate our love for our fellow humans. Our giving is strengthened by our stories, experiences, and connections. In turn, authentic connections built on deeply listening to one another’s stories foster kindness and create space for more informed giving.

We invite you to join us

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado offers a full range of tools, from donor-advised funds to giving circles, for Coloradans passionate about supporting women, families, or other philanthropic passions. Our work is informed and supported by a generous community. I am grateful that we have the opportunity to continue to expand and build this community, strengthen authentic connections, and honor the wisdom women philanthropists share. We invite you to join us.


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