Support in Every Way
Behind the scenes of every Women in Leadership and Philanthropy event is a small army of volunteers working to make sure the program runs smoothly and each attendee walks away feeling as if they were a part of something special.
And chances are, one of the volunteers helping to lead the way is Cindy Kane ’76, a longtime WLP member and former chair of the program committee.
For Kane, WLP has helped her reconnect to the university. After many years of simply paying her Alumni Association dues or making small annual gifts to USF, Kane attended a couple of early Fall Symposiums.
The first Symposium Kane went to was a lunch with 200 attendees — “and I thought that was a pretty big deal.”
She liked what she saw, soon becoming a member and now helping to organize the Fall Symposium, WISE Symposium and other WLP events each year.
“If I’m going to be involved with an organization, I’m going to be all in,” she said. “Because that’s the way I get the most — and so does the organization.”
With the support of Kane and many other WLP members and volunteers, the Fall Symposium has grown to a half-day event with 1,000 attendees.
“The founding members, they knew this was going to be a big deal, but I think it’s gone way beyond their expectations,” she said.
Kane has worked with nonprofits for many years through her consulting company, GW Group. Before taking on a new client, she had to agree with their mission statement and their management style — and she had to have fun. She has found all three with WLP.
“I’ve made great friendships with WLP members. We are all so supportive of each other. There’s no competition. Everybody’s focused on the mission: supporting students and their education,” she said.
To Kane, it’s all about the students.
“One of the best parts is when you see a freshman walk in the door at a student reception for the first time and then you see them grow each year. That’s the most fun,” she said.
Though she has invested countless hours of her time into WLP, Kane and her husband, Mark, recently decided to make a generous financial investment in the future of the organization. The Kanes have included a $500,000 gift in their estate plan, with half of the gift designated for Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Operating Support. The other half is earmarked for the USF Women’s Golf Operating Fund (Kane is a competitive amateur golfer).
The WLP gift is one of the most generous unrestricted gifts in the organization’s history.
Having worked with nonprofits for nearly two decades, Kane saw how many gifts to nonprofits are restricted to a specific purpose. Unrestricted funds allow management to invest in the areas of greatest need.
“You can’t do that with a restricted gift,” she said. “So that’s why our gift is unrestricted. It’s going to allow WLP to use money, as needed. You have to run the organization.”
Philanthropy has always been a part of Kane’s family.
“It really started with my parents in that helping people was always important,” she said, explaining they often sponsored or organized events.
Education was also always important. Although her parents never went to college, Kane said it wasn’t ever an option for her not to go to school.
“They always made it really easy for me to go to school. I didn’t have to work,” she said. “We’ve been blessed to have an education and have parents that helped us along the way, and our professional careers and investments have done well. So now it’s time to give back.”
Through her involvement with WLP, Kane was surprised to learn how many first-generation students there still are today.
“Not every student is as fortunate as my husband and I have been,” she said.
Kane credits the success of WLP to the supportive spirit amongst members, describing how they will step in to help each other in times of need. When Kane is working on an event, she prefers to work with newer or less experienced members so she can model how it’s done.
“That’s how our gift is going to work, as young people get more involved,” she said. “That’s the basis of this organization, the growth of and continuation of this organization is not based on me and my age group.”