Northwestern Settlement President and CEO Carole Wood Talks Philanthropy, Women in Leadership, and the Growing Impact of Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday Nov. 30, Laura Coy, Head of Philanthropy Strategy and ESG Integration for William Blair, and Carole Wood, president and CEO of Northwestern Settlement, joined Make It Better Media Group founder and Chief Visionary Officer Susan B. Noyes for a virtual fireside chat.

William Blair, an American multinational independent investment bank and financial services company focusing on investment banking, investment management, and private wealth management, recently partnered with Northwestern Settlement, a nonprofit serving the West Town community of Chicago and offering services that include early childhood support, a K-8 charter elementary school, bilingual mental health services, a food pantry and more. Wood and Coy joined Noyes to discuss the partnership along with a broad range of topics, from philanthropic best practices to Giving Tuesday, the “global giving movement” celebrated every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, the date the fireside chat took place.

The importance of women at the helm

Wood was just recently appointed President of Northwestern Settlement (NUSH) back in July. She is the first black female president of the organization, and discussed the significance of her role.

“It comes with a lot of responsibility, I mean I feel obligated to really make sure that other women and other people that look like me know that it’s a possibility for them to serve in a role and it makes my work here at Northwestern Settlement that much more meaningful,” Wood said.

Coy pointed out that organizations like William Blair have a responsibility to assist female leaders like Wood. She later noted that women are more likely to donate to a non-profit more than once and also to pass along a philanthropic mindset to future generations.

“It’s beholden on us to introduce them to the resources that a lot of corporations and foundations have access to,” Coy said.

Giving Tuesday’s increasing impact

Giving Tuesday isn’t just a social media trend, Wood said.

“When Giving Tuesday was started nine years ago, the goal was about making giving more central in our everyday lives and it has done a good job of raising visibility for so many worthy charities including Northwestern Settlement have really benefited and our missions have been amplified,” said Wood.

“I also think it’s important to remember that giving Tuesday is not just a hashtag and that charities like Northwestern Settlement need money every day of the year sort of to live out our missions.”

The Four Ts of philanthropy

Coy and Wood also discussed the importance of the four Ts of philanthropy: time, talent, treasure and testimony. Coy praised Northwestern Settlement’s fulfillment of the four pillars of philanthropy.

Coy also commended non-profits for their flexibility during the pandemic, noting how well they’ve managed to meet the needs of their communities.

“What I’m hopeful for is that this has provided a lens for non-profits like NUSH to really shine and to really show that not only are they serving their communities but that they’re doing so with a level of innovation that we just hadn’t seen before,” said Coy.

Northwestern Settlement and other successful non-profits still rely on ongoing support to do their good work. Wood said several of their services could use assistance, including building upon their mental health services post-COVID, supporting their charter school and expanding their team programming to help explain how places like Northwestern Settlement help young people. Support goes beyond simply donating, she says.

“I think some of supporting charities is being ambassadors for the work that we do, helping us tell our stories, becoming volunteers, helping us engage other people in our local community and more broadly in the work that we do,” said Wood.

Watch the full Fireside Chat below:


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Sam Stevenson is a journalism and media communication major at North Central College in Naperville, IL. He is an editor in chief for his school’s newspaper and he freelance writes for several sites, including Fansided and 24/7 Sports. He lives in Lisle, IL where he enjoys spending time with his family and dog Sully, playing video games with friends, and writing on his own time!