There’s no doubt about it: our members have achieved a lot as individuals. It takes a determined and passionate person to run a foundation or start a nonprofit. But when these women join Rachel’s Network to connect with like-minded peers, they find that their work can go further in helping advance a sustainable world. Whether it’s a connection that puts a member on the board of an important environmental organization they admire, or room to grow a nonprofit that gets funders talking about sustainable investing, we are committed to opening doors for our members and helping them access the leadership positions that fulfill their values and potential.
Within Rachel’s Network, women are carrying on Carson’s bold legacy of leadership and advocacy through their transformative philanthropy. Members’ work on the local, national, and even international level is an inspiring testament to the value that women hold not only as funders of environmental causes, but as true guardians of the planet. We are pleased to report on our work throughout 2012, realizing that women’s voices lend vitality and strength to issues that concern us all. To tell that story, we turn to our members, whose reflections you will see incorporated throughout this report.
In 2011, Rachel’s Network encompassed an extensive array of women from over 20 states, with outreach to educational outlets, advocacy groups, and grantmaking institutions. A retention rate of 93 percent affirmed the Network’s value as a tool for maximizing their impact. Though diverse in age, region, and political affiliation, members remained connected by a shared commitment to philanthropy, women’s leadership, and conservation. A variety of relationships also enhanced our roster, including multi-generational family ties, professional colleagues, and fellow community leaders.
In 2010, Rachel’s Network celebrated the astonishing growth and distinguished slate of program offerings that characterized our first decade. We looked back in appreciation on our remarkable expansion from the Founders’ Circle, a cadre of 18 dedicated women funders who established our “good old girls’ network” in 2000, to nearly 100 advocates who span the nation and collectively represent over $500 million in annual grantmaking. Under the leadership of Past President Lisa Renstrom and a committee representing our accomplished membership, we also completed the Blueprint 2010 strategic planning process that set a course for our next five years. The resulting plan succinctly expressed our renewed focus on community-building initiatives and outlined new efforts to raise our organizational profile.
Throughout 2009, Rachel’s Network welcomed new members; offered unique leadership services; hosted networking events; updated our communications; grew our outreach programs; and educated members on strategic philanthropy and cutting-edge environmental and women’s empowerment issues. Most importantly, we helped extraordinary women connect with peers who share interests and passions.