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3 Questions With Mary Kwak Many Hands DC

Thursday, November 18, 2021 6:10 AM | Nancy Clark (Administrator)

Mary Kwak of Many Hands

Many Hands is a women’s grantmaking organization committed to making a lasting impact on the lives of Washington, DC area women, children, and families in socioeconomic need and to helping its members become well-informed donors.

We recently spoke to Mary Kwak and invited her thoughts on their current efforts!

What’s the most interesting effort your circle is focusing on right now?

This fall we are launching a members-only racial equity learning series that has been more than a year in the making. The series is designed to center active, collaborative learning so that together members can build an understanding of what we mean by racism and racial equity, how racism and racial equity relate to our work at Many Hands, and what we can and want to do about it. Since everyone will be a learner and teacher, we don’t know what the outcome will be--which is a little scary but also very exciting.

What is something your circle is currently challenged by?

One of our biggest challenges is managing growth. Over the past five years, our grant pool has grown by more than 70% and with it, the complexity and amount of the work it takes to get each year’s grants out the door. We’ve invested in donor and grant management systems, we’ve expanded the board by two-thirds, we’ve created non-board committees, and still, as an all-volunteer organization, we feel stretched thin. We are currently engaged in strategic planning, and sustainability is a major theme.

What Philanos resource has been most helpful to you this year, and why?

We’ve been fortunate to participate in two DEI affinity groups--one focusing on membership and organizational strategies and the other on grantmaking--that have created unique opportunities for learning and cross-pollination of ideas. Most of the resources available for guiding work around racial equity and DEI target very different types of organizations, so connecting with other Philanos affiliates has been incredibly valuable. We get to learn what other giving circles are thinking and doing and to share and test out ideas. As a bonus, it’s a great way to meet even more women who are passionate about collective giving!

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