Check out the Op-Ed piece I wrote recently for Inside Philanthropy, which explores the ways that the #Metoo movement — the mass uprising of sexual abuse and assault survivors seeking justice — is driving a shift in power and gender dynamics in our culture never before seen. With news of sexual abuse occurring for decades in children’s sports like gymnastics and swimming, and agencies like Oxfam facing major repercussions from reports of sexual misconduct of development staff, #MeToo is helping to open up essential litigation and public discussion on sexual behaviors and norms.
From the Op-Ed:
The #MeToo movement is challenging power structures that long enforced the silence of women who endured sexual harassment, abuse and assault. But while the start of this movement is often traced to revelations last October about Harvey Weinstein, it’s important to recognize that there’s a much deeper backstory, here—one in which philanthropy has played an important role.
If you follow the news on philanthropy, you have probably heard about Oxfam’s troubles. One of the oldest and largest global relief and development organizations, Oxfam is now facing heavy scrutiny due to sexual misconduct by some of its staff in Haiti in 2011. The Haitian government has suspended some of Oxfam’s operations in its country for two months while it investigates how the nonprofit handled the allegations of sexual misconduct during their humanitarian response in 2011. An estimated 7,000 individual supporters have since abandoned the organization since the allegations were reported in February this year, although the nonprofit asserts that their corporate partners have not withdrawn support. (A helpful timeline of events about the Oxfam crisis is available at Third Sector.)
One of my favorite programs, Funny Girls, is going to be getting some major attention this evening, as NBC Nightly featured the program, along with Harnisch Foundation Executive Director Jenny Raymond and program officer Carla Blumenthal.
One reasons I enjoy talking about Funny Girls is because of my own experience, watching my daughters participate Improv programs locally at The Artists’ Exchange in Cranston. I am a strong believer in the power of Improv to help people explore identity and develop key aspects of relationship-building. I also think there is great potential for using Improv to help all people, not just women and girls, enhance their social and emotional lives. Want to know more about Funny Girls? Check out this page.
Yesterday, International Women’s Day, was packed with events acknowledging the value of women in the world and calling for more women’s leadership across all sectors. It was also a great day to celebrate the role that gender equality movements are increasingly playing in social change that advances peace and justice for humanity. Here are just 5 of the philanthropy-related happenings that made #IWD2018 a significant day of partying for women’s equality:
It’s hard for me to keep up with all the news these days on feminist philanthropy, which is a good thing. That means there are more stories every day (and especially during women’s history month) that are reaching people’s inboxes and getting the world thinking about turning further in the direction of a feminist vision of peace and justice. The constancy of this news is why I publish a daily aggregate of news called Giving For Good, which I encourage you to subscribe to if you are a feminist philanthropy news junkie like me.
Sometimes the news is so big that it deserves extra attention, which is one of the reasons I created Philanthropy Women: to highlight the feminist philanthropy news that is truly game-changing and groundbreaking. Here are a few extra important stories that I wanted to pick out and share:
Despite an increasingly hostile climate for women and girls in the United States, with access to reproductive services being cut and campus sexual assault policies being rolled back, a partnership of women’s funds that started during the Obama administration is continuing to grow and deploy needed funds to grassroots organizations.
I’m always on the lookout for ways that women leaders are doing philanthropy differently — mixing and melding the work into different spaces, finding ways to combine giving with other activities and make philanthropy more accessible to the public. One effort that recently caught my eye was Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) and its collaborating-while-touring work with local organizations.
First, just to clear up a technical detail, BTWF is not actually a foundation, but a nonprofit with the mission of enhancing mental wellness and kindness in the community. This year, rather than using its end-of-year fundraising period to raise money for BTWF, the organization is giving all the money it raised during its partnership with its Channel Kindness Tour to grassroots organizations in communities across the country, many of which are doing groundbreaking work with inclusion as an essential value to building a healthy community.
Good news for progressive women’s organizations in and around New York City, as the New York Women’s Foundation today announced that they made an additional $4.21 million in grants in 2017, bringing the total for their grantmaking in 2017 to $8 million, the largest amount ever given out by the foundation in a single year.
Recipients of the grants span a wide range of issue areas related to women’s health and well-being. Grants are provided through a model of grantmaking that is achieves added impact by using community engagement, advocacy, and networking to produce significant social change.
Last evening, I had the pleasure of being a panelist on Take the Lead Virtual Happy Hour, hosted by Gloria Feldt. The topic for discussion was The Many Faces of Love: How Women & Philanthropy Can Change the World. Here are my responses:
What are the challenges for you in philanthropy?
Like everyone, my challenges are fundraising. I knew when I launched Philanthropy Women, I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed key stakeholders, so reached out for support from women who I knew who wanted to grow the sector of media attention for gender equality philanthropy.
“Major societal change happens through major institutions,” says Martha A. Taylor, women’s philanthropy pioneer and Vice President of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Taylor doesn’t discount the energy that comes from the streets, and in January she attended the Women’s March with her then 94-year-old mother, who carried a sign invoking both FDR and Obama. Still, Taylor says that for women to effect change, they need to occupy leadership positions in major institutions.