May 23, 2016
Tanya La Force is a member of the Business Women's Giving Circle and a recent donor to the Innovation Fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. We asked her a few questions her personal philanthropy and how she strives to make an impact in our region.
What are your philanthropic goals and interests?I am passionate about developing and supporting the potential in all children so my goals are to help organizations that do this really well.
How has the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia supported your personal philanthropy?I never thought of my giving as “philanthropy” but recently the Community Foundation hosted an event on venture philanthropy and I’m now thinking more strategically about this. I appreciate that the Community Foundation can provide advice about vehicles to support long-term goals, as well as provide visibility to vetted organizations that are making a difference in our community.
Why did you join the Business Women's Giving Circle?I joined because the BWGC supports a focus area that means a great deal to me: STEM and entrepreneurship. Also, the giving circle concept is very appealing. There is a low barrier to entry since donors leveraged their individual gifts and together make great impact. In the last two years, the BWGC has granted $80,000 to help start new programs and support exponential growth and impact for girls in STEM.
What intrigues you about the Innovation Fund?I support the Innovation Fund for several reasons. First, endowment funds are a great vehicle to sustain long-term impact and ensure future support for innovative projects in our community. Second, there are many small non-profits doing great work but are under the radar for many individuals, foundations or corporations. The Community Foundation does an amazing job at providing critical seed funds, giving these groups a chance to grow. But most importantly, I’ve been on the receiving end of the power of the Innovation Fund. It invested in the Children’s Science Center at critical times of our growth. With these seed funds, we grew our mobile program and later open Northern Virginia’s first science museum – the Children’s Science Center Lab at the Fair Oaks Mall. Not only were the funds important, but the Innovation Funds’ support also helped elevate awareness for our mission. Personally contributing to the Innovation Fund is my way of paying it forward, and the matching gift to build the endowment motivated me to give now.
Why is it important to you to support the local community?There are so many smart and passionate people working hard to make our community a better place for us all to live, learn, work and play. I’ve been in the fundraising trenches and know how difficult it is for our local non-profits to raise money. Even though we have many companies in the Dulles region, they have numerous pressures on their philanthropic giving and the grant process is very competitive. Many companies have to rotate their local giving so that they don’t fund the same non-profits twice. I’ve heard some call their annual giving “fairy dust,” sprinkling a little all around, or yet others have to support national or global corporate responsibility initiatives. Fundraising from individuals is no easier given how much need there is in Northern Virginia. Did you know that 30% of our public school students are on free and reduced lunch? That’s just one issue facing our region, there are many more. There is a lot of need and it’s a tough environment for non-profits, so helping locally is important to me.
Is there anything else you would like to share?The Community Foundation is a great resource to donors and potential donors. They are building networks of like-minded people, supporting a framework to pool resources, and collaborating on ways to make the most impact in our local community. I’m thankful to be a part of the Community Foundation.