Cary Women Pool Resources to Make a Big Splash

Sheila Ogle, Alice Watkins and Lisa Banks with the Cary Women's Giving Network, Jennifer Weiss and Erin Witcher of the Hope Center, and Alisa Wright Colopy of Fit & Able Productions celebrate at the philanthropic group's award presentation held at Southern Studio Interior Design in Cary. The network recently gave $14,000 in grants to local nonprofits.

Members of the Cary Women’s Giving Network want to spread the word that you don’t have to be wealthy to be a philanthropist.

“The Women’s Giving Network is fabulous, because it’s money in and money out,” said Sheila Ogle, one of the group’s founders and the current leadership president. “We feel like we are being so impactful in the Cary community.”

The group, which brings women together to promote charitable giving, consists of around 40 members who commit to give $600 a year for three years. Local nonprofits are invited to speak at meetings and then apply through a competitive grants process. In the past five years, the group has given away more than $87,000 to local nonprofits.

That figure includes $14,000 in grants that were recently awarded to the following local nonprofits.

  • $3,000 to CASA for quality, affordable rental housing for low-income families and individuals
  • $3,000 to the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation for wishes for Cary residents
  • $5,000 to the Green Chair Project for providing “Sweeter Dreams” beds for kids in Cary
  • $3,000 to the Hope Center at Pullen for preventing homelessness with young people aging out of foster care in Wake County

The efforts of these nonprofits were recently celebrated at the network’s annual Grants Award Presentation, held at Southern Studio in Cary.

Instead of making small, individual donations, members of the Giving Network can pool resources to make a big difference, says Ogle. One example of this impact is the group’s $6,000 grant in 2013 to Corral Riding Academy, which matches at-risk girls with horses in a therapeutic riding program.

“We gave them a grant that allowed them to put lights in for the riding academy,” she said. “Before, when it got dark, they had to stop. There are so many working parents that needed to bring their children after the sun had gone down. We feel like that was very impactful, in helping them begin to grow — to be where they are today.

“It’s an amazing group of women, so I would say that was one of our early things, but very impactful. We feel like we made a difference.”

The Cary Women’s Giving Network is a program of the North Carolina Community Foundation. The NCCF has administered more than $130 million in grants since its inception in 1988. With nearly $247 million in assets, NCCF sustains 1,200 endowments established to provide long-term support of a broad range of community needs, nonprofit organizations, institutions and scholarships.

For more information about the Cary Women’s Giving Network, visit

1 Comment

  • Lindsey Chester says:

    $600 may not seem like a lot when you ARE well-to-do, but when you are a struggling self-employed Cary resident with so many other demands on your income, that is actually a large amount.

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