The Widow’s Foundation is a multilingual, multidisciplinary, philanthropic network offering comprehensive support and advice in medicine, law and finance.
The Widow’s Foundation aims to address medical, legal and financial challenges during bereavement. Through collaboration with non-profit and professional organisations, individual accountants, financial experts, tax specialists and health care specialists, The Widow’s Foundation will strive to ensure that bereaved individuals can have easy access to expertise that may, otherwise, be beyond their reach. This practical advice, support and training will enable members of the foundation and their extended family, to develop skills in dealing with any further challenges associated with their bereavement. The foundation will also elucidate health issues pertinent to this demographic.
Mission, Vision, Values & Identity
Mission, Vision and Values
Our mission is to provide comprehensive support and advice in addressing complex issues and to create paradigms for ongoing management of the various challenges associated with bereavement. Our vision is to create an environment conducive to recovery and posttraumatic growth. Our core values reflect that the bereaved in modern society deserve basic, specialised support during a cataclysmic event. We wish to address the fact that this demographic often suffer negative medical, legal or financial consequences through limited access to expertise and a myriad of inhibitory factors beyond their control.
The Widow’s Foundation, established in April, 2016, is a privately funded non-governmental organisation. The foundation will also engage in fundraising activities and apply for grants and sponsorship.
The foundation will be governed by a non-executive board and will be advised by strategic, medical, legal and financial committees, who have a broad range of pan European multilingual, multidisciplinary expertise.
Our main objective is to implement a network of medical, legal and financial experts in Europe who will provide practical support to those struggling with bereavement and to influence policy in addressing social inequality and marginalisation during widowhood. Ultimately, our objective will be to also collaborate with other non-governmental organisations, both in Europe and globally, in addressing issues affecting widows and their dependants.
Objectives – 1-3 years
Our goal in the first three years of the organisation will be to establish a fully operational network of expertise, specialising in support of the bereaved, in medicine, law and finance. This network will include representative organisations, educational institutions and philanthropic networks.
Objectives – 3-5 years
Erasmus+ and CEN: Corollary of the establishment of the network, The Widow’s Foundation will aim to address social policy through applying for Erasmus+ (European Commission, 2016) funding for informing vocational educational and training in bereavement management. The development of guidelines in collaboration with the CEN Network in Brussels will also be an objective. (European Committee for Standardization, 2016)
Horizon 2020: The foundation will aim to submit an application for EU funding from Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, in collaboration with Vision 2020 (European Commission, 2016a; Vision 2020: The Horizon Network, 2016).
The foundation is privately funded, but this is a limited resource. Once the network has been further developed, funding for the organisation should be obtained through applications for national and EU grants, including under Erasmus+ and similar programmes, and general fundraising. The foundation will avail of ‘Stripe’ to facilitate donations and will also collaborate with ‘Good World’. The annual accounts will be published on the website within six months of the end of the accounting year.
A full report of the foundation’s activities will be published on our website, together with an evaluation by widows’ representatives in Europe.
MISSION, VISION, VALUES & IDENTITY
Mission, Vision & Values
Our mission is to create engaging and informative material to provide online, multi-disciplinary expertise. This material will be developed and monitored by experts, who will also assist in addressing complex issues. This will involve creating paradigms for ongoing management of the various challenges associated with bereavement. A corollary of this will be subsidised, or pro bono, consultations for those coping with legal, financial and/or medical difficulties as a result of the death of their spouse.
Our 5 year vision is to create an environment conducive to posttraumatic growth, through education and empowerment.
Our core values and beliefs reflect that bereavement and tragedy should not be exacerbated due to bureaucracy and that negative medical, legal and/or financial consequences can be ameliorated through effective and efficient support.
The founding date marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Danny Winkels, husband of the founder and Chair, Miriam Ryan. Ms. Ryan has eight years’ experience in NGO management as treasurer of a pan European NGO. The Treasurer, Hans Develing of Advictus BV in Leiden, has 25 years’ expertise in finance and tax management. The Secretary, Bart Kreulen, has two decades’ expertise in project management and will assist with technological and multi-lingual administrative assignments. The foundation will be governed by a non-executive board, which will be advised by strategic, medical, legal and financial advisory committees. The board will also enjoy the support of a direct liaison officer with PILnet and Pro Bono Connect. Please contact us for full details of committee members.
Whilst there are numerous organisations available in Europe which provide moral support, there is no philanthropic organisation providing comprehensive expertise in medicine, law or finance to this vulnerable demographic. Paradoxically, complications arising from these particular issues invariably lead to an exacerbation of distress and trauma, causing a further myriad of problems. (Ahn 2005; Biru 2011) It has also been found that widows are in chronic need of financial and legal support for many years after bereavement. (DiGiacomo, Lewis, Phillips, Nolan, and Davidson, 2015) Recent Norwegian studies have also revealed that women have an increased risk of mortality for up to ten years after the death of their spouse (Ytterstad and Brenn, 2015).
Our proposal is to help widows overcome these challenges with effective and efficient support, through free online training courses and pro bono advice. This network will also provide valuable guidelines in dealing with future, associated complex issues. This, in turn, facilitates personal development and increases knowledge and capability. Often, social support does not meet social need and this can lead to dire consequences for the bereaved and their dependants. (DiGiacomo et al, 2015)
According to two United Nations reports (1995; 2001) the rate of widowhood is approximately four times higher for women than men; for those aged 60 years and above. Widowhood is important everywhere, from 40% in developed countries to 50% in Africa and Asia. The main reason for this gender difference is a higher rate of remarriage, and a lower life expectancy, in men. Therefore, widowhood mainly affects women, who also invariably inhabit a lower socio-economic status.
The foundation will address problems of financial incapability in Europe and, thereafter, through a collaborative effort with widow’s organisations, in developing countries. The problem of widowhood is of increasing magnitude globally. It is estimated that there are over 245 million widows across the globe with over 500 million dependent children. Over 100 million of these widows and their children live in poverty. Widow’s children also are less likely to survive, with 1.5 million children dying yearly before their fifth birthday (The Loomba Foundation, 2010).
The countries with the highest numbers of widows are: China with 43 million, India with 42.4 million, the United States with 13.6 million, Indonesia with 9.4 million, Japan with 7.4 million, Russia with 7.1 million, Brazil with 5.6 million, Germany with 5.1 million, and Bangladesh and Vietnam with about 4.7 million each. (Lederer, 2010)
Our main objective is to implement a network of medical, legal and financial experts in Europe and to influence social policy in addressing social inequality and marginalisation due to widowhood.
- To set up national networks of experts
- To fundraise with a view to providing support which is not available through our pro bono network and to cover expenses of the foundation
- To provide medical advice by psychiatrists and psychologists in dealing with issues involving bereavement and corollary challenges
- To provide legal advice on inheritance issues, disputes and widows’ rights
- To provide information and online training in financial capability, together with budgeting and debt management
- To become a reference point for widows and other support organisations
- To become a reference point for legislators
- To ultimately introduce CEN social support guidelines in dealing with bereavement based upon the experience of our network of experts
- To develop programmes within Erasmus+ to inform how educators approach bereavement issues in training and education
- To develop eHealth in supporting the bereaved, informed by the social needs of widows and their children
Objectives: 1-3 years
Our goal in the first three years of the organisation will be to establish a fully operational network of expertise, specialising in support of the bereaved, in medicine, law and finance. The paradigm will be inspired by the PILnet model and will aim is to support all widows and their dependants.
The network of support will be developed with the support of professional individuals and organisations, together with various volunteer organisations in Europe. Our collaboration with other widow and widowers’ support groups will not create an overlap of services offered in Europe, as the proposed paradigm of philanthropic support for widows does not currently exist.
The above objectives will be reflected in our Memorandum and Articles of Association.
The foundation will also glean data for continued strategic planning in accordance with the findings of SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, 2010). A SWOT and PESTLE analysis will be completed prior to the end of 2016. This will be followed by a strategic re-evaluation and a balanced scorecard of goals and objectives for 2017, which will also incorporate planning of pan-European collaboration on addressing the social implications of widowhood.
Development of the website, liaison with IT professionals, and the provision of online courses in various disciplines will also be a priority in the first 12 months.
Objectives – 3-5 years
Corollary of the establishment of the network, The Widow’s Foundation will aim to address social policy through applying for Erasmus+ funding for vocational educational and training opportunities in bereavement management, and the consequences thereof, on spouses and their dependants. The Chair of the foundation has previous experience of Erasmus+ applications and this would involve a joint collaborative effort with healthcare providers, non-profit organisations and educational institutions in Europe. (European Commission, 2016)
The objective of this endeavour will also be to eventually create pan European guidelines and thereby improve standards of social support available in developing European nations through the CEN Network in Brussels. (European Committee for Standardization, 2016)
The organisation will also be collaborating with partners through Vision 2020 to submit an application for EU funding from Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (European Commission, 2016a). There are a number of possibilities open to the foundation but the most appropriate would be to develop a cost saving app which would address a number of challenges associated with bereavement. This would incorporate a directory of the foundation’s network to facilitate emergency assistance, basic guidelines in addressing personal challenges commonly experienced during bereavement and financial management assistance and advice in the event of unprecedented blocked accounts and taxation issues. This app would be adapted for each jurisdiction and also include a function for expatriates requiring multi-jurisdictional advice. Technology in medical apps is constantly developing, with Apple and Yale being leaders in this field.
This application would have the additional advantage of making high standards of mental healthcare and proficiency more accessible to all areas of the EU and of minimizing the costs of providing assistance in remote areas. This grant is long term and would considerably increase the ability of the organisation to effect real change.
At this time, the team will also evaluate the possibility of a pilot project connecting widows in developed nations with widows in developing nations. This will involve low threshold online support, such as learning English and computer literacy. The foundation will collaborate with an international organisation, and other partners, for donations of recycled laptop computers and printers for this purpose.
Research consistently shows that a feeling of belonging and purpose contributes to the emotional and psychological wellbeing of those who are bereaved. (Brown, Brown, House and Smith, 2008) This project would address two social ailments, whilst enabling connection and support for widows on a global scale, whilst alleviating the burden on the social welfare system.
On a financial perspective, current funding of the Foundation is privately donated and a limited resource. Once the network has been further developed, funding for the organisation should be obtained through applications for national and EU grants, including under Erasmus+ and similar programmes.
In the interim period, volunteer fundraisers and supporters of the organisation will help to contribute to the operational objectives of the organisation. The initial costs involved in setting up the foundation are being met by a private donor. Overheads for the first six months will be kept to a minimum through strict budgetary policy and by minimising expenses through utilising online media for conference calls and project development collaboration.
The website is under construction and has been developed by the founder. Premises, equipment, translation services and administrative services have been provided by the founder.
Appropriation of Funds
All donations and grants received will be used only for the purposes of the goals and objectives of the organisation.
In the event that the foundation has a surplus of donations and grants over expenditure, these funds will be placed on a normal savings account linked to the payment account of the foundation. The Board will not engage in investments or other financial activities.
Operational costs of the organisation are to be kept to a minimum, using the protocol described earlier in this document, whilst allowing the goals and objectives of the organisation to develop unfettered.
The Board will produce a set of accounts within 6 months of the end of the financial year and these accounts will be public record. The final document will published on the website of the foundation.
The Board will not be in receipt of remuneration but will receive reimbursement of costs incurred in executing the duties associated with their role. In an event where a board member is required to perform an executive type function, then remuneration can be provided, where this complies with instructions as specified in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
EVALUATION OF THE FOUNDATION’S ACTIVITIES
The implications of adopting a wide ranging network of pro bono support in these disciplines will directly alleviate a great need at source. This will allow the circumvention of the administrative burden and facilitate unfettered professional expertise to be applied to potentially insidious social problems in an efficient, effective and economical manner.
A full report of the foundation’s activities will be published on our website, together with an evaluation by widow’s representatives in Europe.
Ahn, N. (2005) Financial Consequences of Widowhood in Europe – Cross Country and Gender Differences ENEPRI Working Paper No. 32
Biru, A. (2011) Poverty of widows in Europe Central European University, The University of Edinburgh
Börsch-Supan, A. (2010) Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) Wave 3 – SHARELIFE. Release version: 1.0.0. SHARE-ERIC. Data set. DOI: 10.6103/SHARE.w3.100
Börsch-Supan, A., M. Brandt, K. Hank and M. Schröder (Eds) (2011) The individual and the welfare state. Life histories in Europe. Heidelberg: Springer
Brown, S. L., Brown, R. M., House, J. S., and Smith, D. M. (2008). Coping with spousal loss: Potential
buffering effects of self-reported helping behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(6), 849-861.
Schröder, M. (2011) Retrospective data collection in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. SHARELIFE methodology. Mannheim: Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA)
Börsch-Supan, A., Brandt, M., Hunkler, C., Kneip, T., Korbmacher, J., Malter, F., Schaan, B., Stuck, S., Zuber, S. (2013) Data Resource Profile: The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) International Journal of Epidemiology DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyt088
DiGiacomo, M., Lewis, J., Phillips, J., Nolan, M., Davidson, P.M. (2015) The business of death: a qualitative study of financial concerns of widowed older women, BMC Women’s Health, Apr 18;15:36.
European Commission (2016) Erasmus+. [ONLINE] Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/education/opportunities/index_en.htm. [Accessed 24 March 16]
European Commission (2016a) Horizon 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/. [Accessed 24 March 16]
European Committee for Standarization (2016) CEN. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cen.eu/Pages/default.aspx. [Accessed 24 March 16]
Lederer, E. (2010). Report: Over 115 Million Widows Live in Poverty. Retrieved June 27, 2010, from The Associated Press: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gNgKvlVIH_8PRBJMtkMkfBHe1-fQD9GGR8NO0 [Accessed 24 March 16]
The Loomba Foundation (2010) Plight of Widows a Global Issue, SOE Investment Ltd., London
UN Report (1995) The World’s Women 1995 Trends and Statistics. New York. Available from: unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/worldswomen/WW1995.pdf
UN Report (2001) Widowhood: invisible women, secluded or excluded New York. Available from: www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/…/wom_Dec%2001%20single%20pg.pdf
Vision 2020: The Horizon Network (2016) Vision 2020 [ONLINE] Available at: http://2020visionnetwork.eu/ [Accessed 24 March 16].
Ytterstad, E., Brenn, T. (2015) Mortality after the death of a spouse in Norway, Epidemiology, May;26(3):289-94.