Building on the past to make a better future often requires moving outside the box. Now on the cusp of its 70th anniversary, the Hinsdale Junior Woman’s Club (HJWC) has done just that with its philanthropic efforts. In an unprecedented move for the organization, HJWC has restructured its methodology for giving, a strategic effort that will broaden the number of beneficiaries.
“HJWC has been working tirelessly over the past year to restructure how it gives back to the community,” explains Lauren Kavanaugh, the marketing chair of the 236-member member group—a service organization that strives to enrich the community and the lives of its members through a network of resources—providing leadership, volunteer, and philanthropic service opportunities.
In the past, HWJC committed to a two-year relationship with one organization, where all funds raised through HWJC’s annual benefit (and related events) would go to that beneficiary. This year, however, that changes. Now, funds raised will be awarded to numerous charitable organizations through multiple grants. To make this happen, the HJWC Philanthropy Committee developed a new grant application process, opening the process not only to charities in Hinsdale, but throughout Chicagoland.
“The members of HJWC agreed that the organization needed a new model to carry it through the next 70 years of giving—one that would give the group the opportunity to give more and do more for those in need,” says Lisa Kahley, underwriting co-chair. The response, says Kavanaugh, has been overwhelming.
“Once the word about the revised grant application process got out, we received more than triple the number of applications than we normally receive in a year,” she says. In the past, HJWC’s relationship with the organizations has been more of a partnership with the funds going toward a more general purpose. Under the new structure, the grant applications contain much more targeted, specific requests, so HJWC knows exactly where every dollar raised and donated is going.
Working through this, the Philanthropy Committee has been busy fielding and approving the submissions, and conducting on-site interviews with charities that have reached out with specific requests. Before the end of April, HJWC members will vote to finalize the grant recipient selections.
One hundred percent of the funding for the grants will come from HJWC’s annual benefit and related fundraising events. Happening this year on Saturday, March 2, the benefit is appropriately themed “Outside Your Element.” The hope is that funds raised will allow HJWC to fulfill as many of the requests as possible. “Our theme is both symbolic and suggestive,” sums Kavanaugh. “It’s a reflection of how HJWC is stepping outside its bounds to give beyond our immediate community. And, it’s an insight into what will be a party like no other, with dancing and socializing on the rooftop of the Godfrey Hotel.”
Starting at 8 p.m. and going until midnight, “Outside your Element” gives guests the opportunity to indulge in cocktail-themed snow cones, smoky manhattans, and signature snacks. Whether it be hanging out in the cozy, yet trendy confines of the Godfrey’s roof top “igloos” or dancing under the stars to music from a yet-to-be-announced celebrity guest DJ, the night promises to be one to remember.