Saturday, March 14, 2015

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation

By Steven M. Worth, President at Plexus Consulting Group, LLC

Vital Statistics
The Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation, which was founded in the 1960’s as a sister organization to BPW/USA, aims to create successful workplaces by focusing on issues that impact women, families, and employers. From advocating for various legislations to aiding job seekers in finding their ideal careers, BPWF is a leader in the advancement of female participation in the workforce. Successful Workplaces are those that embrace and practice diversity, equity and work-life balance. BPWF aspires to form arenas that recognize the diverse needs of working women, communities, and businesses. Through its groundbreaking research and unique role as a neutral convener of employers and employees, BPW Foundation strives to redefine today’s workplace. Aside from their Successful Workplaces, BPWF also hosts a number of other initiatives.

Their Young Careerist research product, which targets those between the ages of 21-35, provides information on the challenges and unique opportunities that Generation X and Millennial members of the workforce face. Through their research, they support workplace policy and workforce development programs that bridge the generations for young careerists and their colleagues. Further, by encouraging women to work in Green jobs through their Green/Sustainability commitment, BPWF also promotes environmentally friendly positions. As women are underrepresented in green sector jobs, BPWF’s efforts are meant to train, recruit, and retain women for the sustainable jobs of the future.

Finally, in their Women Joining Forces initiative, BPWF provides research and resources to help women transition from a military background into civilian lives and careers. BPW Foundation's Women Veterans in Transition research project educates veterans and employers on the support necessary for a successful re-entry into the workforce, discussing issues topics such as pay equity, paid sick leave, health care, and continuing education.

The Challenge
Despite BPW/USA’s inspiring vision, they faced problems such as declining membership—10% over the last 20 years. Hit by the economic downturn, the sustainability of programming was threatened, and contributions and other giving-related revenue also decreased.

Through our efforts, Plexus Consulting Group aimed to find a revenue-generating solution that would allow BPW Foundation to continue its programming in the areas of transitioning women in the military into the workforce, creating successful workplaces, developing a green jobs initiative, and working with Generation X and Millennial members of the workforce. Plexus’ goal was to find alternative sources of funding to support programming through grants and corporate sponsorship; thereby providing more diversified sources of revenue for BPW Foundation.

In order to achieve this, Plexus Consulting Group’s Senior Advisors developed relationships with government and corporate sponsorship and grant opportunities—including BRAC (Base Reduction and Closure -- referring to military bases). Further, the BPW Foundation Board Chair also used connections to open the door for discussions with Walmart Foundation. After applications and a full proposal were submitted and all subjects were interviewed, the Plexus plan was implemented meticulously and generated remarkable results.

Measurement & Results
As a result of the work of the Plexus team, the programming and work in workforce development strengthened the name of BPW Foundation and branded the organization as a leader in creating equity and work-life balance for all women. Financially, the initiative successfully achieved the first grant of $400,000 from Walmart Foundation to support the furthered success of BPW/USA. Grant funding initiatives continue for BPW Foundation as Plexus focuses on other avenues of opportunity and also supporting BPW Foundation through the implementation of programming resulting from the Walmart Foundation grant.

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