Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Women Give San Diego

Member Blog

Founders Linda Katz and Gayle Tauber shared with us insights into what they’ve learned over the past 10 years…

  1. The secret sauce is: intentionally recruiting, cultivating, stewarding and engaging an intergenerational membership. Equally valuing the gifts of time, talent and treasure, there is magic in a multi-generational membership, where learning and mentorship is a two way street. 
  2. When generations of women come together and discuss issues that impact women, age is not a differentiator, as we come together in understanding and solidarity as women.
  3. One successful solution to the challenges of being intentionally inclusive was the implementation of an age-tiered, member donation fee, as well as options for payment, a concept that afforded opportunities designed to reduce financial barriers to membership.
  4. An unintended consequence of being generationally diverse and having an inclusive giving circle model is that we are always reliant on a few angel donors to maintain maximum mission grantmaking impact. This sustainability is an unknown, making our giving circle model a next chapter discussion. 
  5. WGSD’s mission of being a model for change by balancing education, community collaboration, and strategic and effective grant-making has had one continuing challenge over the 10 years, that is: community collaboration is more difficult to implement than originally ever imagined. 
  6. Expect the unexpected and run with it if it presents positive opportunities! The BY3 (Bring Your 3) event in May 2010 delivered on the far-reaching goal of generational diversity, a surprise outcome sparked by the social media involvement of under 40 members, Emily Davis. The under 40s thought they had to bring 3 friends to attend.  Women Give San Diego leaders were thinking aspirationally and never realized that any one person would bring 3 friends. What a surprise when the under 40s arrived in small groups . . . and joined!
  7. Remaining organizationally nimble is a huge benefit! The implementation of the co-leader model for all leadership positions – one leader over 40 and one under 40 – supports the goal of generational diversity in the most positive way. This concept came about as leadership recognized the challenges, personal and professional needs of members in a variety of stages of their life cycles. 
  8. Always learning! Wine is most often a welcome component of our Mix & Mingle prior to our general membership gatherings. Our November 13, 2017 meeting, Coming from Away: Local Refugee and Immigrant Women, featuring panel with representatives from: United Women of East Africa, Casa Cornelia, PANA – Partnership for the Advancement of East Africa, the California Endowment. was hosted at UWEAST – United Women of East Africa community center. As we generally do, we invited members to bring a bottle of wine to share. Prior to hosting Linda was contacted by her good friend, Divya, letting her know that there had likely never been liquor in the UWEAST community center, as Muslims don’t consume alcohol. Thank goodness for friends! We regrouped, communicated this would be a “clean” event, would be offering sambuca and other nonalcoholic beverages. The evening was informative, inspiring and fun – complete with delicious catering provided by the UWEAST moms. Lesson learned:  WGSD events are fun with or without alcohol!
  9. Achieving and maintaining generational diversity requires flexibility.  Once we realized our unique generational membership was a key aspect to our unique value proposition, we were challenged with the reality that the generations engaged differently, impacting communication modes and styles (email, text, social media) and participation attendance (locations and time of day). 
  10. Not your typical Holiday Party ~ In December 2013, WGSD hosted its’ holiday party at the beautiful home of founding member, Susanna Flaster, featuring Dr. Jen Gunsaullus and Sayaka Adachi Carmody, with the theme: 7 Facinitating Facts About Powerful Women and Sex. Guests were asked 7 True/False questions, to see what we did and did not know. True of False: Of multimillionaire women, the majority of women said that money DID give them better sex. TRUE. Eighty-eight percent of women said more money gave them better sex, which they defined as “higher quality” sex.  At one point, Sayaka demonstrated a bondage technique, using a scarf on my Jenn’s hands. They fielded questions from the audience after the T/F questions, and used Sayaka’s large Vulva Puppet in place of a “talking stick” to pass around the room. As a closer to a memorably fun evening, Founding member Rosanne Holliday immediately spoke up:  “I’m in my 70s and sex just keeps getting better!” What a positive evening it was all around.  
  11. Mentorship is a two way street. Sparked by co-founder Jan Tuttleman’s passion, “mentorship” was conceptualized as an intra-organizational concept that became a benefit of membership. The mentorship benefit continues to have a broad interpretation, so it flows from year to year with the needs of our members.