Improving Our Philanthropy Through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Philanthropy means generosity in all its forms and is often defined as giving gifts of time, talent and financial resources to promote the common good. In order to do this work and improve our philanthropic efforts to better meet our mission, the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County is working to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in our giving circle and our grantmaking.

I have invited my friend and colleague Judy Smith to guest write my column this month and highlight the important DEI work she is leading for the Women’s Giving Circle. – Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz

By Judy Smith, WGC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Co-Chair

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, abounding racial inequities, and increasing political polarization, Hina Naseem and I, co-chairs for the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County’s (WGC) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, are incorporating mindful leadership in all we do for the WGC and the Committee.

We are actualizing the DEI charter by moving from words on a sheet of paper to the implementation of a measurable action agenda.  Our goal is to ensure all WGC activities reflect the organization’s DEI commitment in practice, policy and governance.  Our approach incorporates strategic thinking, team building, egoless actions, innovation, and presence.

The DEI Committee’s action agenda incorporates two tracks:

Track 1 – Learn and Reflect

  • Understanding DEI
  • Usage of uniform language
  • Storytelling
  • Awareness Building
  • Understand the “What” and “So What” of DEI

Track 2 – Act and Dive Deeper

  • Use your will and skill
  • Study the Impact of DEI initiatives on Howard County and WGCs nationwide
  • Translate our collective knowledge and experience into action
  • Define and monitor measurable outcomes
  • Answer – “Now What?”


This approach acknowledges that each of us still has more to learn about DEI while knocking down unknown structural barriers that prevent us from closing any equity gaps in grant giving.

So, where does WGC stand with its DEI initiatives?

  • Diversity, outcome focused – “Presence of difference within the WGC setting” – Going from good to great
  • Equity, process focused – “Ensures everyone has equal access” – Progressing
  • Inclusion, outcome focused – “Ensures everyone is asked to the table” – Going from good to great


What can you expect in the upcoming months from the WGC’s DEI efforts?  We have a busy summer agenda:

  • Black Philanthropy Month (BPM) celebration throughout August 2020:
    • A Conversation with Black Philanthropist to discuss – “Why Should You Give”
    • A Virtual Event that explores philanthropy through via film
    • Published reading list and calendar of local BPM activities
  • Drafting of the WGC DEI framework to guide us through assessment and measurement
  • Continued committee, Board and community training


As I reflect on the task at hand, some moments present great joy and honor to be a DEI co-chair.  Then, there are times when I am overwhelmed by the thought of such an enormous task.

Those are the times when I ground myself in the facts:

  • WGC is a great organization that continues to address the needs of women and girls in the Howard County Community through giving
  • It is a circle of fantastic women and the circle continues to grow
  • I can see my resources (time, talent and dollars) in action and helping others daily
  • My past DEI experiences (both positive and not so positive) are leverageable to affect change within my community for the good
  • Finally, it just plain unadulterated fun


It is my hope that I have shed some light on the WGC DEI Committee and you too will see the value in joining Hina and I as we journey to be a part of WGC efforts to expand philanthropy and increase giving by local women to help local women.


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