By Johnna Fullen
Women’s Fund of Smith County

For a couple of years, I had heard about large, philanthropic grants being given by a group of women, collectively known as the Women’s Fund of Smith County.  These ladies pooled their financial resources, followed a grant making process, and awarded high impact grants to the community.  I was intrigued as I read the newspaper articles and saw congratulatory signs throughout town, but only admired from a distance—I thought I needed an invitation to join.  I am writing this column today, because I don’t want this to be you!  Any woman with a heart for sharing their financial resources and giving back to their community, can join the Women’s Fund.

About four years ago, I was invited by a friend to attend the Power of the Purse Luncheon, the signature event of the Women’s Fund of Smith County.  Wow!  The energy in the room that day was indescribable.  As I looked around the room, I noticed the group of ladies was diverse, bringing different backgrounds and life experiences to the mission, and I knew in my heart that I wanted to join.  The common thread among the women was the desire to make a difference in the lives of individuals in their community.  Pooling financial resources to make larger, more impactful gifts can help make life better for women and children in Smith County.   The idea of collective giving made sense to me.  Plus, the smiles and energy in the room that day were behind the mission.

I was thrilled when the speaker at the luncheon gave an open invitation to the women in attendance that day, as well as, to their friends, family, and any woman wanting to make a difference.  Again, membership does not require an invitation, but is open to any woman interested in making a financial commitment, to be pooled with others, thus allowing impactful grants to be given within our community.

As we celebrate our 10 year anniversary, I am honored to serve as the Vice Chair of Membership for the Women’s Fund for 2017.  Currently, there are more than 200 ladies in the Women’s Fund, and we hope to double membership over the next ten years.    In order to meet this goal, we have talented members that are working to enhance efforts related to recruitment, member relations, and member and community education. Please know that I am available to visit with anyone interested in learning more about the Women’s Fund.

The Women’s Fund is only as strong as its number of members.  It relies on the renewal of existing members, recruitment of new members, and community support, in order to sustain as an organization and continue to grow.  Each year, membership starts at “zero”…….zero members and zero dollars available towards the grant making process. The process of keeping members engaged in philanthropy and active in the grant making process is important to the mission.  It is also essential for existing members to share the mission and invite friends to attend events, in an effort to grow membership.  Growth of the organization is simple.  The more members…..the more funds available to give back through projects in our community…..the more lives to be touched and changed forever.

The Women’s Fund member guest social will be held on Tuesday, March 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the Tyler Museum of Art.  Members are encouraged to bring a friend and socialize with other members, hear stories of why other ladies join, and learn more about the mission of the Women’s Fund.

Johnna Fullen, Financial Advisor with The LMT Group of Merrill Lynch, serves as the vice chair for membership of the Women’s Fund of Smith County.  Membership is open to women who would like to learn more about collective giving.  Please visit for more information.