ESWN Launches Endowment Campaign

PrintThe Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) is pleased to announce a major grant from the Madison Community Foundation (MCF) in Madison, Wisconsin. The $50,000 grant from MCF will provide “match” to incentivize donors to invest in the future of ESWN through a new endowment, such that every $20 donated becomes $30 of endowment support for ESWN. At the end of the ESWN endowment campaign, our goal is to reach $150,000 in the MCF endowment fund.

Depending on the annual interest rate, revenue from this endowment will generate $5,000 to $9,000 per year for ESWN. The endowment will provide a permanent revenue stream for ESWN, allowing our organization to sustain its support for women in the geosciences.

At this stage of ESWN’s growth, the endowment will ensure that ESWN “keeps the lights on” – namely, that the social networking website where our members connect will stay online. This support will also help fund our presence at the annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the largest meeting of geoscientists in the world. The annual AGU Meeting offers one of the largest opportunities for our members to meet in person, and allows ESWN to serve the broader geoscience community with professional workshops and other events.

ESWN is a peer-mentoring network, serving early-career scientists worldwide, and providing a community for women in science at all stages. This new endowment campaign is the second time in ESWN’s 13-year history where the organization has asked its membership to donate to a major fundraising effort. In 2014, ESWN raised nearly $14,000 in one month, from almost 300 donors, with most donors ESWN members. Those funds supported ESWN in becoming a 501c3 non-profit, and this success was reported in Nature. ESWN has also benefited from generous support from the National Science Foundation, the UW-Madison 4W Initiative for Women and Wellbeing and Global Health Institute, Elsevier, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Nature Geoscience, the California Academy of Sciences, and the AGU.

With core expenses paid for from the sustainable endowment revenue, ESWN’s Leadership Board can focus our fundraising efforts in new directions, such as scholarships, travel awards, and professional development opportunities.

The grant from MCF aims to engage both ESWN members and the broader public as donors, allowing each contributed dollar to go further. We have three main goals with this endowment campaign: 1) Reach the $100,000 goal, which will yield a $150,000 endowment; 2) Engage our members as donors, with at least 10% of ESWN members contributing; 3) Increase the visibility of our organization and members. With increased press coverage and media engagement, we aim to change public perceptions of scientists, showcase role models for girls considering science and engineering, and raise awareness about opportunities and challenges for women in these fields.

For smaller non-profits such as ESWN, it is common for a community foundation like MCF to hold and manage the endowment. For ESWN, MCF is a perfect fit. Although ESWN is an international organization, the organization is incorporated in Wisconsin, and MCF is one of a very few community foundations that offers this generous type of endowment funding. ESWN is very grateful to MCF, and excited about this new step.

By establishing an endowment, the longevity and mission of ESWN can be advanced to serve generations of scientists. Many of the most urgent challenges facing society are connected to the geosciences, including energy production, responding to climate change, natural resource management, and natural disaster forecasting. Consistent with many other areas of science and engineering, women continue to be largely under-represented in the geosciences. This lack of diversity has implications for innovation, and limits the human potential applied toward science, problem-solving, and sustainability. ESWN increases retention of women in the geosciences by facilitating and supporting professional person-to-person connections. Personal networks result in a more rewarding professional experience for women, relieving feelings of isolation and building lasting support systems capable of sustaining careers.

All donations are tax deductible and eligible for donation matching programs run by many employers. To help ESWN reach the goal of raising $100K, visit