Thinking of Hitting Up the Boston Women’s Fund? Read This First

The Boston Women’s Fund was the Massachusetts’ first foundation established to support the advancement of women, and is one of the oldest of the approximately 100 such foundations in America. The idea for this foundation grew out of a well-attended community meeting, when a racially and economically diverse group of women decided to create an organization that would help break down barriers and improve the lives of low-income women (Read Boston Women’s Fund: Boston Area Grants).

This foundation welcomes letters of inquiry from Boston-area nonprofits, and those letters are usually due around December. If you’re thinking of applying for a BWF grant this year, here are a few things to keep in mind:

BWF Grants Are Only Made to Nonprofits in the Boston Metropolitan Area

Although BWF’s funding priorities are pretty broad, the geographical reach of its grantmaking is not. The foundation’s focus is on women who have the least access to resources and who have been excluded from full participation in society because of their race, class, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, or religion. Women and girls organizing on their own behalf are a huge priority for the Fund. However, only nonprofits operating in and serving the Boston metropolitan area are eligible for grants.

BWF Grants are Decided Upon by a Diverse Volunteer Committee

BWF emphasizes diversity when recruiting women in the community to join its Allocations Committee. This volunteer committee is in charge of reading and discussing proposals, conducting site visits, and recommending potential grantees to the Board of Directors for funding. No grantmaking experience is necessary for a woman to join the committee. One committee member said of her experience, “Working with women from different cultures, races, backgrounds, and communities was inspiring. To know that at least 12 hours of meetings has a profound impact on women in Boston is exhilarating.”

BWF Grants Don’t Exceed $20,000

As a hard and fast rule, BWF grants are never more than $20,000. For the 2013 fiscal year, BWF awarded $300,000 in grants to 20 nonprofit organizations and grassroots initiatives. Most of these grants were around $16,500 each.