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We Didn’t Get The Grant, But…

Well… we didn’t get the grant, but I am sure glad we went for it.

I have spoken with several of my mentors and peers in the nonprofit space and there seems to be a common 2020 motif – so many of us have this resounding, uninvited echo of “No” dancing around in the back of our minds and it has been difficult to shake its hold. We all recognize the need to silence the thoughts because how else can you move forward and continue the impactful mission we wake up every day to fulfill? Rising above all the closed doors and missed opportunities is easier said than done… trust me. There have been many countless nights of tossing and turning, trying to figure out how we would keep the lights on for our community. As I sit in reflection, I am in awe of the resiliency and grit of my fellow philanthropic visionaries (and especially that of my team) and their tenacity to keep moving forward, stay relevant, and adapt.


So what do you do, as a young nonprofit, when you have been in survival mode during a global pandemic? 

Learn and envision. Gain momentum. Make it happen

In March, our team experienced transition. We started working from home and 100% of our business development and programming went virtual. I know many of you can relate because this became your reality, as well. Our “state of transition”, or what I also call “state of adaptation”, seemed to stretch throughout the entire 2020 year. 


YES, we had to pivot our biggest fundraising event of the year into a virtual simulcast in the matter of a short few months, BUT we brought together inspiring speakers and incredible donors that resulted in the vision to host a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion event in the same format in the fall (which proved to be a huge success). 


YES, our talented team of interns went off to pursue their dream positions at other companies/organizations (we are so deeply proud of each of them!), BUT we made the decision to add to our two-person “small and mighty” team and on-boarded our new Community Relations Manager from behind our computer screens. Thank goodness for good technology!


YES, we didn’t get to the final round after we spent weeks writing a $10M grant proposal, crafting a strategic vision for national growth, and participating in peer reviews, BUT now we have the feedback and cohesive plan needed to scale our mission and broaden our impact nationally. The future is bright. 

I have lost count how many times “Yes, But” has floated around in my head, because it seems as though 2020 has knocked on our door every day to challenge us with new potential barriers. This sounds like I am whining but trust me – it is a really good thing. We have learned a great amount as a team and we have defined our identity as an organization today and have defined where we want to be as an organization tomorrow. 


“So, Samantha, why the deep reflection?” Because we want you to know that we survived, we are still here, and we are preparing for some amazing things. Growth mindset has organically become our team’s theme and with every “no”, we change the perspective from “why is this happening to me?” to “what is this trying to teach me?”. The set of answers to these questions dramatically changed our course of action. We know that the work of Pass the Torch for Women Foundation is critical to close gaps, create a landscape of equality and equity for all, and cultivate lasting mentoring relationships for those who need it the most. 


But we cannot do it alone.

We need your help so we can move from “survival mode” to “legacy/capacity building mode”. We need your help so we can diversify and grow our mentor-base so we can be more intentional to reflect the incredible communities we serve. We need your help so we can continue to scale our mission to support and empower women at all stages of their careers.


Why do we need you? Because every woman deserves someone who believes in them during the times it is hard for them to believe in themselves. You can re-read that louder for the people in the back.

Investing in a woman will not only impact her, her family, her community… but it will also positively impact you. It is like overflowing your cup into others and watching your own replenish. 


If you are willing and able, please consider the ways you can overflow into the Foundation. It can be serving as a mentor. Volunteering your time to the organization. Contributing to the year-end campaign. Sharing the mission with peers, family and friends. Or is it simply, reflecting on how you will choose to “pass the torch” in 2021 to your community and neighbors?

We didn’t get the grant but we walked away with vision, clarity and momentum.


Thank you to every person who has dedicated their time, talent, treasure and ties to the Foundation. We are so deeply grateful for your endless support and look forward to an impactful new year. 

Samantha Burke
Vice President of Programming and Development
Pass the Torch for Women Foundation

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