By Betsy Brush Hahn

Guest Columnist

 EDITOR’S NOTE: “Give Well” is a weekly column written by Dawn Franks of Your Philanthropy, Betsy Hahn of the Women’s Fund and Kyle Penney of the East Texas Communities Foundation.

Each year The Women’s Fund celebrates giving at their annual Power of the Purse Luncheon. There is more to this than meets the eye.  It is a time for reflection on the giving decisions made earlier in the year.  Looking back on the projects that were funded, women ask questions. Was it a success? Why or why not?  What would we do this again?  What would we change?

People give for a variety of reasons. Often the reason is compassion, knowing others are less fortunate which triggers a deep empathy and response to help.  Another reason for giving can come from our upbringing or other training. We have been taught that giving to others is not only good but also proper stewardship of the gifts and blessings we have received.  And finally, people give because they believe their gift has helped or that they have done the right thing. Giving is like an accomplishment.

Consider the effort we put into accomplishments: education, career and volunteer work, including serving on boards. Hours are spent preparing for exams and meetings. We invest our time and treasure when we volunteer to meet urgent needs in the community. The results of these investments are rewarding and we can see the results of a good grade, receiving a diploma, a business flourishing, making money, seeing hungry people fed and children warm with winter coats. The results make us feel good and confirm that our efforts were well more than worth it.

The journey we take to accomplish these results benefits all of us well. In the process of achieving a diploma, we learn a great deal. Not only facts and figures, but life skills of learning how to work with other people which ultimately helps us define our strengths & weaknesses.

It should be the same with giving. The goal is to accomplish something larger than the individual and learn from the journey. At the heart of the women’s collective giving movement is the desire to make significant accomplishments by giving and learn from one another on how to be betters givers.

Giving can be a much bigger experience than writing a check or dropping money into a box. Done in a family or group of friends, it is a forum for defining and internalizing values. Deciding together what is important and then acting on that by giving, makes those values tangible and knits people together in a shared experience.  It makes our community a better place to live and enriches all lives involved.

The old adage, practice makes perfect, still holds true but there is more to know. Practice combined with feedback and reflection is what allows a person to refine their approach and do better the next time. This requires information, but just as important is a trusted group of people to discuss it with. Practice, feedback and reflection can produce new and better ways of doing things.

The Women’s Fund annual Power of the Purse Luncheon is an opportunity to receive feedback on the grants we awarded earlier in the year and reflect on them in conversation with each other. Soon members will vote on which grants to award in 2015. They have the opportunity to review grant applications submitted by local nonprofits. The applications themselves say a lot about the current needs in our community and the best ideas local organizations have for meeting those needs.

The Power of the Purse Luncheon is open to all women and so is our organization, The Women’s Fund. Please consider this your personal invitation. I guarantee you will enjoy yourself and grow your enthusiasm for giving – or I’ll give you my dessert.

Betsy Brush Hahn is president of The Women’s Fund. The mission of The Women’s Fund is to leverage the philanthropic capacity of women as a catalyst for positive change. All women are welcome to join. To learn more, visit and plan to attend the annual Power of the Purse Luncheon on October 28th.