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The Wellmet group

Hitting the Streets to Fund the Grassroots

(L to R) Front row: Susan Rahm, Founder Franny Eberhart, Founder Deborah McManus, Founder Rose-Lee Reinhard, Charlotte Davidson, Back row: Barbara Brack, Karen Hiniker Simons, Ellen Strickler, Nancy Talbot, Barbara Dixon, Cathy Kaufman Iger. Photo: Amy Wolf
They gather four times a year in an art-filled apartment high above the City to decide which of the small nonprofits they’ve visited will get grants. Deborah McManus, one of the three founding members of WellMet, takes no credit for organizing this group of donors: “I read an article about women getting together, pooling their money, and giving it away. It just sounded like a wonderful idea.”

Members of Women on the Rise Telling HerStory (WORTH) protest the practice of women being shackled to their beds while giving birth. A law was passed outlawing the practice in New York State.
All the women were philanthropists before, “but we weren’t hands-on,” adds Deborah. “We decided that we wanted to support very small groups, and often passionate grassroots leaders, where our grants, which range from $5,000 to $20,000, would make a difference,” says Rose-Lee. “We’re often their first grant.”

They set up their fund in The Trust in 1999 and created their own process for grantmaking. “We get our ideas from reading articles, talking with friends, listening to nonprofit leaders. Each member brings suggestions to the group, having done the research and made site visits,” says Deborah. They’ve come to our briefings, including one on how to read a nonprofit’s informational tax return.

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