Survey results

Contextual Summary of MWF 2021 Annual Membership Survey results

In March, we conducted our annual membership survey. This survey is key to ensuring our effectiveness in addressing MWF members’ needs and interests. 

Our thanks to the 57 members who submitted their feedback. With a 43% response rate, we can be confident the results represent our members’ thinking. 

Overall, the results show solid progress in advancing most, if not all, of our giving circle’s strategic objectives. They also reveal areas where our members’ views and priorities are shifting and where we can adjust our efforts.

Engaged and informed giving 

Regarding our strategic objective of “developing engaged and informed philanthropists”, we are heartened to learn 93% of members have a greater understanding of issues affecting vulnerable women and families and 51% have increased their commitment to community giving because of their membership. 

Diverse women leaders

Regarding our objective of “developing diverse women philanthropic leaders”, a solid 36% say their MWF membership has progressed their career. As we resume in-person events, develop our Next Gen initiatives and further build our volunteer base, we hope that percentage continues to grow.

Empowering non-profits through giving leadership

Two other important MWF strategic objectives are “empowering non-profits” and “operating as a collective giving leader”. The equal split between members who prefer the Nurturing Grant be untied and those who prefer it be tied—combined with the increasing proportion of members who don’t have a preference (41% in 2021 versus 26% in 2020)—suggest members are open to the possibility of allowing that grant to be untied. This would allow MWF to follow the philanthropic sector’s increasing support for giving non-profits freedom to apply funding where they need it most. Also in accordance with sector best-practice to increase non-profits’ flexibility and reduce their burden, the largest proportion of members agree the time period to expend grants should be two years.    


Members report continued satisfaction with our current grants structure of six finalists with one receiving a Signature Grant, another receiving a Nurturing Grant and the runners up receiving a smaller Merit Award evenly distributed from the remaining grants pool balance. 

Regarding our 2022 grants round, members have chosen employment/economic empowerment, homelessness and education as the three funding areas. Within these areas, members are most passionate about supporting older women over 55 experiencing disadvantage, immigrants and refugees, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Several members commended our Finalist Captain approach whereby individual Grants Committee members present a finalist organisation at Grants Information Night and assist finalists through the process.

MWF publications

The survey also indicated that members’ attitude towards printed marketing materials is changing. While members rated the quality of MWF’s printed material highly, several expressed the desire to receive future publications in digital format only. We will strive to provide this option in the future. 

Members’ values

The survey confirmed MWF members value many of the same characteristics that have empowered the growth of giving circles internationally, specifically that MWF: 

  • amplifies the power of their donation; 
  • enables members to support a cause they’re passionate about (vulnerable women and families in Melbourne); 
  • ensures members’ giving is directed towards rigorously assessed organisations; 
  • provides learning about community issues members care about; and
  • gives members a say in how their grant funding is spent.

Membership growth

Many members indicated they were introduced to our giving circle via an MWF event, proving the important role our events play in building our number and strength. The strongest way our membership is built, however, is by word-of-mouth. The power inherent in the simple act of spreading the word is an important opportunity for members to strengthen our collective efforts and impact.

Community spirit

Members expressed appreciation for MWF’s perseverance and adaptation throughout the pandemic and expressed relief that we can finally return to enjoying our community spirit in-person. The perseverance, support and loyalty of MWF members throughout this time have been extraordinary. 

The 2022 annual survey has revealed members’ choices and insights that are pivotal to the continued evolution and improvement of our giving circle. Most importantly, the voice of MWF members remains paramount. Thank you!