Women for UMass Amherst (WFUM), a network of alumnae and friends of the campus who have made gifts to support the university, is boosting its impact through a new dedicated, collective fund that is providing awards to worthy projects.
Women become members of WFUM by donating to any area of campus, according to Stephanie Flaherty, senior associate director of Annual Giving in the Development Office.
“Through WFUM, we want to build a network of like-minded women who inspire and encourage other women to support the university through philanthropy,” she said. “We also work to educate women about the power of shared resources and the impact of giving.”
And that’s where the new Women for UMass Amherst Fund comes in. In its initial year, 39 donors chose to direct some of their gift to the fund, creating a pool of $10,000.
Last semester, the fund gave its first awards through a competitive application process to four projects, said Flaherty. Selected from a field of seven by the seven-member WFUM steering committee, the four funded projects were chosen through a vote by fund donors.
The UMass Permaculture Initiative was awarded $4,000 to support the planning of a second annual, expanded Permaculture Your Campus Conference in June.
Protect Our Breasts, a student organization that promotes education about environmental toxins and chemicals that contribute to breast cancer, was also awarded $4,000. Based in the Marketing Department in the Isenberg School of Management, Protect Our Breasts focuses on making women aware of safer product choices.
Special Collections and University Archives received $1,000 to help underwrite the digitizing of photographs by Diana Mara Henry, who work documented the women’s movement and women in American public life.
Another $1,000 went to the Women in Computer Science Club to pay travel costs and fees for female students attending this year’s Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing.
All of the groups that applied for funding made presentations to the WFUM steering committee, “who were just blown away” by the projects,” said Flaherty. The quality of the proposals prompted the committee to back splitting the funds among the projects.
The steering committee members are all alumnae who have contributed to the campus at the Leadership Circle level and have also designated at least half of their gift or a minimum of $1,000 to the WFUM Fund.
Now in the funds's sophomore year, Flaherty said the goal is to raise $25,000. The giving option is offered to donors contacted through the Annual Fund’s telephone program and also publicized through e-mails to non-donors, newsletters and Facebook. A public event is being planned for April in Boston to celebrate the funded projects and raise the profile of the fund, she added.
Applications for the second round of awards will be accepted this summer. For more information on the process, contact Stephanie Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org