The Joy of Local Giving

Ojai Women’s Fund Mission Statement

The Ojai Women’s Fund is an all-volunteer collective Giving Circle dedicated to making substantial grants on an annual basis. The recipient organizations target critical needs in the Ojai Valley (focus areas include social and health services, education, the environment, and the arts). 

“The fact that we have so many women celebrating what it is we are doing together, goes beyond my expectations. We are genuinely making a difference in people’s lives.”

Karen Evenden


“OWF allowed for me personally to meet some incredibly wonderful women that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It opened up my attitude, my mind, to not just being happy with what I’m doing on a daily basis, but to reach out more. It was what we were finding that people felt, a caring on a different level than we had experienced before.” 

Peggy Russell 


“We believed that all of us together could do more than we could do individually. And that’s, I think, really the core of why we’re collaborative. We’re not top-down; we’re transparent. And that’s been part of our dream from the get-go.”

Kyle Crowner 


The Joy of Local Giving

Two qualities embodied in most women are nurturing and caring for others. What better way to translate these skills into action than funding exceptional nonprofits delivering services to the Ojai Valley?

Through our membership groups, the Ojai Women’s Fund inspires and educates women to become leaders in philanthropy and help make a difference in the Ojai Valley community. We believe we accomplish more together than we could ever do alone. For a minimum of $100 a year, a woman can participate in this active, vibrant group supporting the good works of Ojai Valley nonprofits. With over 400 members, the Ojai Women’s Fund (OWF) is a Giving Circle, an all-volunteer collective that funds nonprofit activities.


A Giving Circle is a form of group philanthropy where individuals combine their money so that they can have a more significant impact on the causes that are most important to them. By doing so, they endow more substantial amounts than possible by donating individually. There are over 2,500 Giving Circles worldwide, with more formed every year. It’s a global phenomenon. Most have developed since 2000, are located in every state in the United States, are nonsectarian, focus on local community activities, and are frequently composed entirely of women. For as little as $100, women are changing and improving the lives of Ojai Valley residents.

And it’s a great way to meet other women who share your values of giving back and creating opportunities for the future. So please consider joining this group of women making a difference in the Ojai Valley.

Ojai Women’s Fund Core Values

We commit to INTEGRITY by creating a culture of trust and transparency in all of our actions and decision-making.

We prioritize COLLABORATION through cooperation and mutuality. We believe this is essential for building strong relationships with members, beneficiaries, donors, and volunteers.

We commit to SERVICE in a spirit of empathy, compassion, and respect by prioritizing the community’s needs in all our endeavors.

Who We are

Ojai Women’s Fund makes substantial grants on an annual basis to organizations that target critical needs in the valley. Since 2016, the group has bestowed over $600,000 in grants. Most money comes from small giving groups of five to ten members or more, who pool their donations to equal at least $1,000. Each group then submits its vote for the five categories of nonprofits that have applied for grants each year. OWF is governed by a Steering Committee made up of members.

Why Join?

The Ojai Women’s Fund provides opportunities for women of all ages to join together and make a substantial difference in our Ojai community.

OWF is open and accessible

Any woman can join. We want our membership to reflect the diversity in our community.

OWF makes it fun and easy to impact our community substantially.

We hold no fundraisers and require no volunteer service. You can be as involved as much or as little as you like.

OWF is democratic

Grantees are nominated and voted on by all members.

OWF membership is tax-deductible

Our all-volunteer organization keeps expenses to a minimum.

OWF is educational

Members learn about critical community needs and effective programs that result in achievable solutions.

"Joining opened up a world of additional opportunities and friendships.

I admit the thought of not having to make a huge commitment of time was attractive at first, so what I didn’t expect was to find myself on the OWF Steering Committee. I joined OWF with the modest expectation of getting to know members of my giving circle better, and wound up with a greatly expanded circle of friends, a far better understanding of the many diverse needs that exist in the valley and a genuine appreciation for the immense impact even relatively small contributions can have in improving people’s lives and strengthening our community.”

Susan Weaver

"Being a part of OWF has been the most gratifying work I have ever been involved in.

I am inspired daily by what we accomplish together. It is because of you, our members, past, present and future, that we will continue to make a positive difference in our beloved Ojai Valley.”

Margo Haas

"It is important to do what it is you really like to do.

In addition to picking a group that interests you, you want to really think about what you want to do for them. There is always someone you can bounce things off of. There are real partners there. There is a sense of always being able to pick up the phone and call someone.”

Marquita Flemming

OWF Blog

Wendy Gillett, Executive Director and Coach of Summer Rowing Camp, Lake Casita’s Rowing Association

Wendy Gillett, Executive Director and Coach of Summer Rowing Camp, Lake Casita’s Rowing Association

As you can see in the photo, Wendy takes her work seriously because she has so much passion for the people that row at Lake Casitas. She actively engages with all middle and high schools in the Ojai Valley to ensure a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse Summer Rowing Camp. She works year-round with her husband, Eric Gillett (it was love at first sight when they met at age 18), who is a former US National Rowing Team rower. They started Lake Casita’s Rowing Association 15 years ago and haven’t stopped rowing.

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Tessa McGill Director THRIVE Wellness Workshop

Tessa McGill Director THRIVE Wellness Workshop

Tessa Magill grew up in Ojai, as did her mother and father. So many OWF members probably know the Messer family. She loves Ojai, “I feel grateful to have this community, friends, and family. I run into people all the time that I’ve met through THRIVE.

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