The text below was sent to me in a Tatting at Bella On-line newsletter.
The first all women's fundraiser was initiated by Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, 1788-1879, editor of "Ladies' Magazine" (1828 to 1837 when it merged with Godey's magazine) and editor of "Godey's Lady Book" until 1877. Wealthy Bostonians had begun to raise funds for the Bunker Hill Monument in 1822. Famous men such as Daniel Webster and Marquis de Lafayette endorsed the project. However, by 1830 all there was to show for the men's efforts was pile of granite blocks.
Still the project leaders were unable to complete the monument. In 1840, Mrs. Hale, now editor of "Godey's Lady Book" with a much larger subscription base, put out a call for women to participate in a (the first?) women's fair. In many parts of the USA women banded together to knit, crochet, quilt (and surely tat) lovely items to be sold along with jams and jellies. Mrs. Hales effort raised $30,000. The Bunker Hill monument was completed in 1843. And women have been raising funds with their needlework and baked goods ever since.