Federation Report: Collective philanthropy empowers the lives of women and children

Eileen Melnick McCarthy and Yaffa Greenbaum, Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program

Eileen Melnick McCarthy and Yaffa Greenbaum, Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program

By Eileen Melnick McCarthy and Yaffa Greenbaum
Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program

In 2009, an original and audacious initiative was created in conjunction with the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation: the Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program (WCPP). Our goal was to empower women to make meaningful philanthropic choices, and by doing so, make a difference in the lives of women and families in our city.

Founded by Lynne Oreck-Wener, along with a group of Jewish women, the WCPP reached out to women in the community and extended an invitation to join in the journey. One of the WCPP’s first projects, the annual Pearls of Wisdom event, is still first and foremost an outreach and public service initiative reaching out to all women, regardless of their philanthropic participation. Pearls of Wisdom is meant to promote the work of the WCPP and highlight fundraising as the means through which we address our goals.

The Women’s Collective Endowment Fund, the fund through which the WCPP distributes grants, now stands at more than $60,000, allowing for larger grants each year. Members of the WCPP collectively direct where these funds go.

In the past three years, we have helped women with special needs by funding a program run by Tamir; we funded a Na’amat program that provides school supplies for children living in shelters; and we gave a grant to Hillel Ottawa to support an initiative to improve the safety of women on Ottawa’s university campuses.

We have also organized several meaningful Pearls of Wisdom events, which took on issues like women’s finance, women in the Holocaust and, at our most recent event, women’s health. As you can see, we are striving to engage women and families and to educate more deeply on issues vital to us so we may empower a generation of women in the Jewish community and beyond.

Still, we want to do more.

While we take satisfaction in the success of these events and in how the Women’s Collective Endowment Fund has grown, our aim is to fund even more significant projects to make a more concrete difference to recipient organizations and their constituents.

To accomplish this, we are boosting our fundraising efforts. Early next year, we will be hosting several parlour meetings with the goal of reaching out to women across the community to become members, as well as returning to our founders and supporters to consider a follow-up gift.

These meetings will also be an opportunity to acquaint WCPP members, and original funders/founders, with the new more targeted fundraising approach we believe will best serve our mission.

How can you get involved? Simple!

A minimum $100 contribution to the Women’s Collective Endowment Fund makes you a member of the Women’s Collective Philanthropy Program.

All women who support this program as members have an equal voice and are encouraged to participate fully in our programs and the overall development of the program.

We are always open to hearing ideas for programs or ways we can support women and children in the community. Mostly, we want to encourage the continued growth of the WCCP. Won’t you join us?

Eileen Melnick McCarthy and Yaffa Greenbaum are co-chairs of the WCPP. 

For more information about the program, contact Eileen at ejmelnick@gmail.com, visit www.ojcf.ca, or call the Foundation office at 613-798-4696, ext. 252.

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