April 6, 2017

Women Helping Women

IU Kokomo

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Welcome and Recognition

Thank you, Susan. I’m delighted to be here today in honor of student volunteer leadership at Indiana University. And I’m thrilled to see such a wonderful group of IU Kokomo supporters, including the family and friends of our three honorees. It is a true pleasure to help pay tribute to these students today, who are contributing so much to making Kokomo an even better place to live, work, and grow.

I want to start by thanking Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke for hosting this celebration of volunteerism, and for your dedicated service to Indiana University and to the city of Kokomo. This is at least my sixth visit to the campus and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know it as a vibrant and engaged academic community, and you have been a wonderful leader in expanding the strength of this campus.

I’m delighted to say that we are joined by a member of the IU Board of Trustees today. Will you help me welcome Mary Ellen Bishop?

I also want to welcome founding Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council member, Janet Smith, who has joined us today. The “Women Helping Women” award was Janet’s brainchild, as a way to recognize and celebrate student volunteerism. It’s wonderful that she’s with us today to help recognize another stellar group of young women who serve as such shining examples of student engagement. Janet, would you stand? Please join me in applause to thank her for her commitment to IU’s student leaders.

I also want to thank the Deans and administrators who are here. And special thanks go to Jan Halperin, Vice Chancellor for the Office of University Advancement, and the IU Kokomo staff who organized this lovely celebration.

And last but certainly not least, on behalf of everyone at Indiana University, I want to congratulate the recipients of the 2017 Student Volunteer Leadership award: Abby Lefler, Brooke Runyon, and Sarah Swoverland. Congratulations to each of you!

Women’s Philanthropy at IU

Over the past few years, this luncheon has become one of the signature events for Women’s Philanthropy at Indiana University. Founded seven years ago as a way to engage alumnae and women friends of IU, Women’s Philanthropy at IU provides numerous programs that connect women to the university in ways that are meaningful for them and for the future of the university.

Although our official start was in 2010, Women’s Philanthropy is built on nearly two decades of formal and informal efforts to engage alumnae and others, beginning in 1995 with an event called the Bloomington Colloquium for Women, which was spearheaded by one of my predecessors, Peg Brand and several committed female members of the IU Foundation Board of Directors. The Colloquium draws about 100 IU alumnae and friends back to Bloomington biannually for a weekend of learning from renowned speakers and faculty and engaging with current students and each other. It continues to be an enormous success, but about ten years ago, it became clear the Colloquium attendees were hungry for a deeper and more sustained way to stay engaged.

After a year of learning from the research, about which I’ll say more shortly, and a lot of planning, in June of 2010, we launched the official Women’s Philanthropy program at the IU Foundation and formed the Women’s Philanthropy Council—now the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council after we determined the need for a name-change to better reflect our mission. The WPLC serves as the leadership group for Women’s Philanthropy at IU, providing the IU Foundation with strategic guidance in ensuring that women—who are the majority of our student body and of our nearly 700,000 living alumni around the globe—are connected to IU and integral to helping shape its continued excellence as one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher education. The work of the Council has already led to a host of new programs that bring women together to learn what’s new at IU and how they can be part of its future. We have a biannual conference in Indianapolis as well as the Bloomington Colloquium, and have sponsored events around the state, like the Indiana Conference for Women. We’ve raised money for scholarships and dozens of programs on all 8 IU campuses.

And we’re reaching out beyond that, even into the homes of many passionate alumnae. We’re taking a seat around their dining room table with other women who are searching for reconnection with IU.

We’re gathering these alumnae groups across the nation, not only here in Indiana but in Chicago, New York, Washington, DC, and other places, bringing IU’s top researchers and educators to them, providing learning opportunities that also showcase the groundbreaking innovations underway at IU. It’s exhilarating to see all the women raising their hands to lead one of these events.

And we have this luncheon, Janet Smith’s brainchild, which is founded on the idea that early involvement in volunteerism leads to a lifetime of commitment to one’s community. Abby, Brooke, Sarah―you are clearly off to a great start!

The work we’re doing today with women’s philanthropy puts IU in the vanguard among institutions of higher education in making a strategic and aspirational effort to change how we engage alumnae. Philanthropy is certainly the giving of treasure, but it is also the giving of time and talent. Our three young women are thus continuing a cherished tradition and deserve the accolades we give them in recognition.

It is also the case that we, and our three honorees today, are following in the footsteps of our foremothers, who created the great tradition of volunteerism and association-building in the U.S. It’s not a stretch to say that women created the nonprofit sector in this country.

It is also true, unfortunately, that we have not always been very good about either recognizing or promoting the power of women’s philanthropy. Despite all the volunteer efforts and the presence of women’s gifts through the years and through most of the last century, development work at Indiana University, just as at other universities, was largely focused on men.

But over the last fifteen years or so, it became apparent to scholars of philanthropy—most notably those at IU’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the world’s first such school—that women were in fact giving significant amounts, were more often than not the motivation behind a couple’s gift, and were giving in new, but not always visible ways that deserved attention.

And these less visible aspects have to do with HOW women choose to give. Women are more likely to spread their gifts over a greater number of organizations and causes than do men. Women, especially older women, are more likely to give anonymously.

Women tend to gravitate towards collective forms of giving, to amplify the power of their individual contributions.

And women want deeper relationships with the organizations to which they give, which means there’s often more time involved before a contribution is made.

These behaviors mask the fact that once factors such as education, age, income, and others are taken into account, women give more than men, sometimes more than twice as much, and are more likely to give.

And projections show that women will be the majority of wealth holders in the U.S., and by some estimates already are.

This research is important to organizations like IU where private philanthropy is crucial to sustaining academic excellence and to making higher education affordable.

At IU, the Bloomington Colloquium proved just how strongly women feel about reconnecting with their alma mater, and Women’s Philanthropy at IU capitalized on this energy, and the research, as we’ve pushed into new territory in women’s giving to higher education.

Since 2010, members of the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council have contributed over $110 million in new contributions for IU. And some of this money goes to support exciting new projects on IU’s eight campuses.


The WPLC supports IU students, faculty, and staff through our annual grants program. We award more than $100,000 annually to programs across all of IU’s campuses—programs that improve public health, increase opportunities for underserved populations, provide global experiences, and support STEM and women’s leadership initiatives.

In 2012, our first year of grant awards, we funded the Science Rocks Summer Camp here at IU Kokomo. At the time, the program had lost its previous funding source, so our award enabled the camp to continue—allowing underserved middle-school students in the community to attend a free, two-week camp filled with STEM activities. The camp continues to thrive, this year thanks to funding from the Area Health Education Centers of North Central Indiana, fostering interest in STEM education and careers in middle-schoolers who otherwise wouldn’t have such opportunity.

Another great success story―and one that shows tremendous collaboration between campuses—is the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, a 2015 WPLC grant recipient. This joint program between IU Kokomo and IU East provided underserved members of the community with access to primary healthcare providers, while again giving IU students hands-on experience and service learning opportunities.

Just last year on this campus, the Summer Bridge program received a WPLC grant, which enabled more students to prepare for the transition into university life—mostly first-generation college students whose family members or caregivers don’t have the institutional knowledge or advice for them to thrive on campus. Again, providing an opportunity these students and their support systems wouldn’t otherwise have.

These are the kinds of forward-thinking initiatives the WPLC looks to fund—that have wide-reaching impact. That provide opportunity.

WPLC and the IU Bicentennial Campaign

As much as we focus on the future with our programs – our students are the very embodiment of that future – we are, these days, also focused on the past as we prepare for a once-in-a-lifetime event, the IU Bicentennial in 2020. IU’s Bicentennial Campaign is in full force and tracking toward the university-wide goal of 2.5 billion dollars that will support new opportunities and enhance the IU experience. As part of the “For All” campaign, Women’s Philanthropy has identified some key areas to help us expand our offerings, broaden our reach, and elevate the visibility of IU’s women leaders who have come before us.

First and foremost, by 2020, we hope to double the WPLC fund and award more than $200,000 each year.

As a result, we will give IU students and faculty the resources they need to make the world a better place for all. Consider the opportunities on the IU Kokomo campus—challenge yourselves, colleagues, students to come up with an initiative that could receive funding and have significant impact on this campus, this community, or far beyond.

In line with our grant-funding initiatives, our second campaign goal is to connect women with their philanthropic passions that fall with four key areas of IU strength: Public health, global experiences for students, women in STEM fields, and diversity. We believe everyone from every background should have the chance to lead and thrive—truly “for all.”

Our third goal goes back to my earlier comments about recognition for women leaders and philanthropists. As I mentioned earlier, women represent more than half of IU’s student body and more than half of the alumni community. Yet when it comes to memorializing their contributions to IU, women are vastly underrepresented.

Only about a quarter of the building, statues, and other ways we memorialize contributors to IU are named for women who have made history at IU, like Elinor Ostrom who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009, and Emita B. Hill, the first female Chancellor of IU Kokomo. By 2020, we hope to celebrate the legacies of women through named professorships, programs, buildings, and other tributes.

Open Invitation to Make a Difference

All are invited to help make change happen at IU. You can become a Partner in Women’s Philanthropy, and for a donation of any size to the WPLC Fund, you will go on our mailing list, get event invitations and announcements, and keep up with what’s going on. We have a wonderful webpage, and a Facebook page, and I encourage you to like us!

There is a lot going on at IU that supports and celebrates women’s giving, and I hope you can all be part of it.

In conclusion, I want to again congratulate our three students for their exceptional leadership in philanthropy and volunteerism. Women of all ages have the power to make a difference, and with shining examples like Abby, Brooke, and Sarah, the future looks very bright!

Thank you.