women united giving council

Who We Are:

The Women United Giving Council is dedicated to providing grants to culturally specific organizations and programs benefiting diverse communities in the Chicago region through their fundraising efforts. Previously they have invested in the African American, Asian American and Latina communities; and strive to expand their impact across communities, benefiting more women and girls in the area.

The Giving Council is an extension of the work of Chicago Foundation for Women. CFW improves the lives of women and girls through grants, advocacy, leadership development, and public and grantee education. Since 1985, CFW has given more than 3,200 grants totaling over $26 million, and guided thousands of women and girls into becoming philanthropists.

Who We Help:

The idea is to build a collective movement of women giving back on behalf of women and girls in whichever way they choose to do that, whether it be time, talent, or treasure. Studies have shown that women have a hard time finding mentorship. We’re building a community of women who are learning and growing with each other. We’re like this force field: it’s a group of women to lean on, but also a place where we can bounce back even more energized. – Sharmila Rao Thakkar, Women United Giving Council member and Alumni Council member

The impact of our work is strong! We have granted over $160,000 to 39 organizations serving women and girls in African American, Asian American and Latina communities in Chicago since 2008.

In June 2016 we made grants to the Chicago chapter of BYP100, Chicago Volunteer Doulas and Demoiselle 2 Femme. 

How It Works:

We invite you to participate in effective philanthropy: philanthropy that is inspired by a commitment to create positive change for women and girls in culturally specific communities. We invite you to make a difference in collaboration with those who share a connection to your community! Working as women united for a common purpose is empowering for council members and grantees alike. Members are those who identify with or are an ally to these communities.  

Member Benefits

  • Amplify your giving by leveraging your dollars with those of other members.
  • Give voice to the issues effecting the women and girls in your community by deciding with your peers on the Council which programs to fund.
  • See the impact of your giving as funded programs share accomplishments with membership that were made possible by the Council’s grants.
  • Develop new personal and professional relationships with women from your community while learning about others.
  • Learn from trainings, workshops and conversations on philanthropy, women in philanthropy, issues and needs of women, how organizations are serving women, and trends and gaps in funding.

Member Responsibilities

  • Make an annual contribution of at least $250 with a variety of options to make payments affordable.
  • Participate in group and individual fundraising. This may include soliciting donors, sponsors, and in-kind contributions, serving on an events committee, or recruiting members.
  • Participate in the Giving Council grantmaking process, a cooperative effort to select the recipients of grants. This may include identifying organizations and programs to fund, reviewing proposals, conducting site visits, and voting on grant recommendations.
  • Provide good stewardship and thought partnership to the Council with your active and positive participation. This may include attending meetings, or contributing to discussions about fundraising and grantmaking.
  • Connect Chicago Foundation for Women with organizations and stakeholders doing work on behalf of women and girls of color in the Chicago region.


2016-17 Council Co-Chairs
Karla Muldowney

2016-2017 Meetings
All meetings are at 6 pm. at Chicago Foundation for Women, 140 S. Dearborn Suite 400 unless noted.

November 15, 2016
December 13, 2016
January 24, 2017
February 28, 2017
March 28, 2017
April 25, 2017
May 23, 2017
June 27, 2017

Why Giving Councils?

Giving Councils link grassroots organizations to funding and the Foundation to new issues, new leaders, and new ideas.

Through its giving councils, Chicago Foundation for Women aims to:

  • Exercise the power of giving individually and collectively to create an understanding of philanthropy within different cultures;
  • Establish unique funds to provide additional support to the communities represented by the Councils (proceeds generated through fundraisings efforts by the Councils go toward these special funds);
  • Educate the public and take action on unique issues facing diverse communities in the Foundation’s areas of interest (economic security, freedom from violence, and access to health services and information);
  • Increase awareness about the Foundation’s work within diverse communities;
  • Provide leadership opportunities, and;
  • Amplify the voice of underrepresented women as philanthropists through democratic philanthropy.

For more information about the Giving Council, contact Eli Marsh at (312) 577-2825 or emarsh@cfw.org.