Women’s Giving Alliance Hosts Annual Meeting

Women’s Giving Alliance Hosts Annual Meeting
Isaiah M. Oliver and Sheila Collier with Ellen Wiss and David Garfunkel

The annual meeting of the Women’s Giving Alliance (WGA) was held on Oct. 18, 2023, at the Adam W. Herbert University Center at University of North Florida. Collective Giving was the key focus of the day as WGA President Sheila Collier welcomed 220 women from its membership, which recently saw a 39% growth to 470.

“WGA is not only about pooling our dollars to have a strategic influence on our community, it’s also about pooling our ideas, relationships, and other resources from our diverse members to magnify our impact,” said Collier. “Our membership continues to grow every year – and we are nearly 500 strong now – because women who want to make a difference in our community recognize and embrace the power of strategic, collective giving.”

Sheila Collier
Sheila Collier

Collier also introduced Isaiah M. Oliver, the third president of the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, who spoke about the power of collective giving and, as to the WGA, he referenced the major impact that women – his mother, wife, and three daughters – have had on his life. Oliver pledged to work collaboratively and collectively with the WGA and the entire community of Northeast Florida toward a just, equitable future for all.

“Strategic philanthropy is all about how we leverage our time, treasure, talent, testimony and ties to make our community a better place,” he said.

Following Collier’s description of the WGA’s key areas of focus, she introduced guest speakers, former WGA president Ellen Wiss and Lift Jax CEO David Garfunkel.

Wiss attributed the founding of Lift Jax seven years ago to WGA’s focus on eradicating poverty for women and her recognition of the need to expand that goal to the entire community. Under the leadership of David Garfunkel, who came aboard in 2020, the goals of the organization crystallized and, since then, through collective giving and community partnerships, great strides toward alleviating poverty on Jacksonville’s East side have been made. Both Wiss and Garfunkel thanked the WGA for being a catalyst for change.

Elizabeth Brandenburg with Darren Dailey and Pauline J. Rolle
Elizabeth Brandenburg with Darren Dailey and Pauline J. Rolle

“This organization stands as a remarkable example of an all-sector collective impact effort,” said Collier. “By conducting the necessary research and deeply evaluating what it revealed, Lift Jax was able to identify specific needs in our community and initiate a movement of support. To see the impact this organization and others are having over time is a testament to the power of strategic, collective giving.”

Videos were shown of several WGA 2023 grant recipients, and Collier closed the meeting by encouraging membership to continue on the path of collective giving, expanding and reaching out to others during the upcoming grant cycle of 2024-25, which will focus on serving the fundamental needs of women and girls in Northeast Florida. In December, local nonprofit organizations serving women and girls will be able to apply for one-year grants for up to $50,000 to meet the basic needs, such as food, shelter, childcare, health and safety, of women in girls living in the six-county area of Northeast Florida.

Since 2002, WGA has awarded more than $8.9 million through 180 grants to more than 70 organizations in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties.

By Susan Brandenburg
Resident Community News

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