The List of Most Powerful Women in Philanthropy is Growing, and We Need Your Help

Last year when I was writing for Inside Philanthropy, David Callahan and I co-authored a list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy. It was a big hit. This year, I have decided to follow up and develop eight shorter lists. The lists will start with Emerging Most Powerful Women.

Why start with emerging? Using emerging women leaders as our starting point helps us get a sense of how these women are influencing some of the changing dynamics of philanthropy. Some of the emerging women are quite different from the more established women leaders in philanthropy. Many of these emerging leaders take a strong stance on the need for philanthropy to be more integrated into the economy and inclusive of marginalized groups. A heightened awareness of the need for collaboration across sectors to achieve systemic change is also a key point for many of them.

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Philanthropy Women Will Be at Dream, Dare, Do in Chicago. How About You?

I am making my plans to be at Dream, Dare, Do in Chicago, the 2017 Symposium of the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute, happening on March 14-15. Why? Because I believe it is more necessary than ever to pay attention to women’s leadership, particularly in philanthropy.

I believe women’s leadership in philanthropy is an essential key to social progress, and an important way to grow that leadership is by valuing it more and making it more visible to the public. So I will be there — raising the visibility of women like Ruth Ann Harnisch, founder of The Harnisch Foundation,  Hali Lee, Founder of the Asian Women’s Giving Circle, and Marsha Morgan, Vice Chair of the Community Investment Network.

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Insights for Philanthropy Women from Take the Lead Women Happy Hour

Gloria Feldt, Co-Founder of Take the Lead Women and Former President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1996 to 2005.

Last evening, I had the pleasure of listening to Take the Lead Women’s Happy Hour with guests Rebecca Traister and Alyson Palmer. The preeminent Gloria Feldt, founder of Take the Lead Women and longtime leader for women in reproductive rights, moderated the discussion. All three women said things that not only lifted my spirits, but gave me some new directions to consider as I continue to develop Philanthropy Women. 

Rebecca Traister, author of All the Single Ladies and writer for New York Magazine and The Cut, talked about how she came to feminist journalism, starting with a job at Salon in the early 2000’s, where her editor was a woman and much of the staff was comprised of women. She started to write more from a feminist perspective at Salon, and that work gained traction online.

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A Global Telecomm Giant Focused on Women’s Empowerment in Multiple Ways

June Sugiyama, Director, Vodafone Americas Foundation

As the economy and job market shift further toward globalization, we see more and more corporations amping up their attention to women and girls. An important new example of this is the Vodafone Americas Foundation, which in March of 2016 announced a fourth core focus: empowering women and girls in the technology field, and helping women use technology to live healthier and more prosperous lives. 

Until recently, Vodafone Americas Foundation had three areas of grantmaking: sparking innovation, improving lives, and strengthening the global development sector. With its fourth newly added grantmaking area, Vodafone is funding initiatives that leverage technology in improving education and opportunity for women and girls.

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Pressing On for Gender Equality: A Guide to Grant Funding for Women and Girls in STEM

Kiersten Marek, Founder and Editor at Philanthropy Women, on a very cold January morning. Check out the short video introduction by me below.

Welcome again to Philanthropy Women. I am glad you are here. Given the new political climate, some of you may be worried about funding for women and girls. But, particularly in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the grant funding to support women and girls has been growing over recent years, and looks like it will continue to do so.

Supporting more women and girls in STEM became an early priority of the Obama administration, and this interest and activity continued steadily for the years of the Obama presidency. 2016 was no different. This past year saw funding flowing for STEM programs for women and girls like never before. The ever-growing list of corporations and sponsors of education and opportunity for women and girls in STEM is staggering. It suggests a rampant popularity for philanthropy focused on engaging women and girls in preparing for STEM education and careers.

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Meryl Streep’s Amazing Speech, and Her Philanthropy

This speech by Meryl Streep is an amazing testament to the power of women’s voices to cut through all the crap and get right to the heart of things: calling out Donald Trump for emboldening a culture where disrespect invites disrespect and violence begets violence. Streep renders supreme judgement on Trump for his incredibly toxic behavior, particularly his mocking of a disabled journalist.

Streep supports several causes specific to women and girls, and a wide array of causes that intersect heavily with women, including rape and sexual abuse, slavery and human trafficking, and human rights.

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Hot Topics and Trends for Women and Philanthropy, 2016: Women’s Giving Circles

The Women’s Living Room, a giving circle in Cranston RI, donated $1,788 to Artists’ Exchange for theatre scholarships for girls. Pictured are donors, from left, Linda Harris, Lammis Vargas, Kiersten Marek, Kate Aubin, Mike Sepe, Elaine Yeaw from The Artists’ Exchange, City Council President John Lanni, and Paula McFarland.

One of the most fascinating trends in women’s philanthropy is the advent of women’s giving circles. In fact, I got so interested in this trend, that I decided to start a giving circle of my own. More about that later. First, let’s take a look at some of the amazing things that giving circles have done over the past year in the U.S.

While the idea of giving circles as a vehicle for growing grassroots philanthropy has been around for over a decade, with the new platforms and technologies available for crowdfunding and online donating, the progress on giving circles has really sped up. Giving circles are now propagating in so many forms and varieties, that I get overwhelmed every time I google it and try to write about it. But, just to get us all started, check out the giving circle page at the Women’s Foundation of California. They have developed a number of different ways to use the giving circle. Other signs that interest in giving circles is increasing: Community foundations like The Rhode Island Foundation are offering matching funds for giving circles that meet certain criteria.

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Hot Topics and Trends for Women and Philanthropy, 2016

Leaders of Dallas Women’s Foundation, California Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, New York Women’s Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham and Ms. Foundation on stage at the United State of Women Summit on June 14, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

In 2016, we saw the power of women grow in society like never before, and their influence in philanthropy continued to increase simultaneously. Women Give 2016, the yearly research series from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, revealed how Millennial women are coming to philanthropy with a different mindset, and are influencing strategies and dollar amounts of giving in new and important ways. Additionally, the study found that women’s participation in the labor force has increased, resulting in heightened power for women in financial decision-making both independently and for their households.

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Five Things to Know about Philanthropy Women

  1.  We’re hiring. We are looking for a few good writers who want to delve into the world of women’s giving. If you are a writer with a passion for this area of philanthropy and would like to apply, please go here for next steps.

    The social worker is in. Here I am in my new office, working on my business plan.
  2. We have a free daily update called Giving for Good, which aggregates the news from a select group of progressive foundations, nonprofits, and media outlets that focus on inclusiveness, equality, and social justice.  If you want to know what is happening in this funding space which includes women’s funds, feminist foundations, and corporate foundations with a focus on gender equality, check out Giving for Good.  And relatedly, if you are a nonprofit or foundation that wants to be included in the Giving for Good feed (free publicity!) please message me with a request and I will consider it. There is a contact form link in the right sidebar.
  3. We don’t want to go to a paid subscription business model but may need to do so if we can’t bring in enough revenue with advertising. So if you are a foundation or nonprofit, particularly in the women’s giving arena, please consider advertising with us. I can provide you with specs for the associated benefits of our levels of sponsorship.
  4. I have resigned from my position as Senior Editor at Inside Philanthropy.  I am a huge fan of the work being done there, but the truth is that my priorities need to be a) my private practice, and b) launching Philanthropy Women. I am grateful for my two and a half years of experience writing for that fine publication, and hope to find ways to collaborate with them in the future.
  5. We appreciate support and feedback. Don’t be shy if you have questions, or want to talk about a specific idea for how to make the site more powerful and relevant. We want to be not just broadcasting our own content, but listening to the community of Philanthropy Women, so we can honor and serve this growing world of feminist strategy and influence.

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Reproductive Rights and Women’s Philanthropy: Aligning Our Resources

We’re not going back, and women’s philanthropy will be leading the charge to defend reproductive rights.

According to a recent article in the Ms. Magazine Blog by Gaylynn Burroughs, Policy Director at the Feminist Majority Foundation, reproductive rights advocates are still expecting “an all-out effort by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.” Read the full article, Not Going Back: The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid for more details.

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act will have huge ramifications for access to birth control, as well as access to health care for women in general. In addition to losing access, women will also lose funding for birth control and may again be left to shoulder all of the costs associated with family planning.

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