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Our History

Philanos, formerly know as Women's Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN) began as a group of "thought leaders" from eight giving circles around the country modeled after the Washington Women's Foundation.

Here's a snapshot of our history:

    • The idea to form a network of women's giving circles was sparked at the 2008 celebration event for Idaho Women's Charitable Foundation (IWCF) marking their achievement of surpassing $1M in distributed grants.  
    • The attending leaders of similar groups from around the country agreed that regular communications, learning and sharing of best practices would strengthen and accelerate the burgeoning women's giving circle movement. 
    • In the summer of 2009, Colleen Willoughby, founder of Seattle’s Washington Women's Foundation (WWF) and widely recognized as the founder of the collective giving movement, organized a meeting with leaders from all over the country. The group agreed on a purpose and structure and the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network was born as a volunteer-led, virtual organization open to all giving circle/collective giving organizations.
    • In the fall of 2009, WCGN initiated its flagship program, monthly educational conference calls (September–May) and committed to holding regular conferences. 
    • The founding leadership team included Colleen Willoughby, Laura Midgley and Alison Wilson from Washington Women's Foundation (WA); Virginia Mills from Giving WoMN in Minneapolis (MN); Vicky Coelho and Susan Smith from Idaho Women's Charitable Foundation (ID); Tracy Johnson from San Diego Women's Foundation (CA); Katy Peek from Women's Fund El Dorado (CA); Rebecca Powers from Impact Austin (TX); Vicki Sheehan from Spirit of St. Louis Women's Fund (MO); and Karen Wilson from Impact Giving (CA).
    • During the summers of 2010 and 2011, the WCGN leadership team met to further refine and solidify the organization. A second conference was held in San Diego in March 2011 in coordination with the San Diego Women’s Foundation’s 10-year anniversary. More than 90 women attended. By this time, more than 20 collective giving groups belonged to WCGN. 
    • In the summer of 2012 under the leadership of Vicki Sheehan of the Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund and Virginia Mills of GIVING WoMN, the WCGN Leadership Team was formally established and the team made plans to meet annually. The team developed the 2012-2013 Call Topic Calendar, supported planning for a conference hosted by Impact Austin in October 2012, and launched both member and public websites. 
    • In 2013 the network launched as a 501(c)(3) with 35 paid affiliate organizations.
    • An eight-member leadership team became the founding board with the following officers: Laura Midgley, Chair; Virginia Mills, Vice Chair; Susan Smith, Treasurer; and Sue Priester, Secretary. Officers and a full board of directors were elected at WCGN’s first annual meeting in St. Louis.
    • On April 30, 2014, WCGN member organizations were required to pay $200 per organization annually to support the network’s operations. 
    • On February 23, 2020 we rebranded to  Philanos.
    • Now, more than 18,000 women across the country belong to one or more of our 80+ affiliate giving circles.

"What is the cathedral you are building today?"

 Colleen Willoughby

Founder,  Philanos

Founder, Washington Women's Foundation, Seattle, WA 

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© 2014-2024 Philanos is the leading national women's giving circle network.  All rights reserved.
Philanos is a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax ID #46-3953482.  Privacy Policy

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