Why We Must All Care About the SDGs – And What They Are

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development lay out key parameters for creating a more just, humane, and environmentally sustainable planet.

Do you know all 17 of the sustainable development goals adopted by the UN in January of 2016?  If so, good for you. Up until today, I was mainly familiar with SDG 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Now that I read Equal Measures 2030’s research showing that many policy leaders in the development sector do not know very much about the SDGs, I decided it was time to do my homework and learn more about the SDGs myself.

So here they are. They read kind of a like a very long human rights mantra.  Let’s break it down and start with the first five:

1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

3) Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages

4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

That all sounds awesome. Each one relates to health and well-being, and by number five, we are recognizing that gender equality is part of that agenda. Onward to basic sanitation, access to energy, and economic growth and work for all:

6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all

9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation

The goals then span out to address inequality, climate change, conservation, and an ongoing commitment to cooperation among nations for global sustainability:

10) Reduce inequality within and among countries

11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 

14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Particular to women and girls, let’s take a look at the specific targets for SDG5:

  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere.
  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
  • Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate.
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decisionmaking in political, economic and public life.
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.
  • Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
  • Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.
  • Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.

This is a lot of information to take in, but its important to read it over, probably a couple times a year at least, to remember all the aspects that need to be worked on for a better planet, particularly for women and girls.


How This Nonprofit is Using the SDG’s to Help Women Thrive Globally

The Global Women’s Philanthropy Network Aligning Health with Human Rights for Women and Girls

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Philanthropy Women at 6 Months: An Update on Our Growth

Philanthropy Women pages have been viewed thousands of times, and our spotlight organizations are enjoying more media attention.

Dear Faithful Readers of Philanthropy Women,

First, of course, thank you for reading. You are bravely joining me on the sometimes harrowing adventure of learning about gender equality philanthropy. I thank you for joining me on this journey.

Also, thank you to our sponsors, Ruth Ann Harnisch and Emily Nielsen Jones. You have provided an amazing opportunity to advance the knowledge and strategy of progressive women’s philanthropy, and for that you are wholeheartedly thanked.

Thank you, as well, to our writers — Ariel Dougherty, Jill Silos-Rooney, Tim Lehnert, Kathy LeMay, Susan Tacent, Betsy McKinney, and Emily Nielsen Jones. Your work reading, interviewing, thinking, and writing about women’s philanthropy has resulted in my receiving tons of positive correspondence about our content. The internal numbers also validate that we are making an impact.

The numbers show that our audience is primarily female on Google analytics. Our Twitter analytics indicate that our audience is comprised largely of progressive foundations, nonprofits, fundraising professionals, and technology specialists. ​This information is relevant to the theory that Philanthropy Women is helping high level foundation and philanthropy leaders access needed information. Many  philanthropy organizations interact with us on social media in a positive way, amplifying and retweeting important content.

Our data also shows that our spotlight organizations are clearly enjoying more media attention as a result of our efforts. Women Thrive, WDN, and the Global Fund for Women, are all receiving a healthy percentage of click-throughs as a result of our presence.

Finally, in terms of our growing authority online, our work has been cited and linked to by the UCLA School of Law Blog, Philanthropy New York multiple times, and many other high level places such as Maverick Collective, Women for Afghan Women, and Giving Compass. We have a large and growing presence on social media, as indicated by the high number of referrals from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media. In addition, I have received high praise from many foundation staff about our writers and our content.

So, all this is to say that Philanthropy Women is successfully growing, and, I believe, making the conversation on gender equality philanthropy richer and more relevant. But I believe we can do more. I hope you will keep reading as we work to grow our impact. We have ambitious, but, I believe, achievable goals. Best, Kiersten

Xiomara Corpeño: Fascism Grows As Trans People Lose Human Rights

Xiomara Corpeño is the Director of Capacity Building for the Groundswell Fund.

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece is part of a series being provided by Philanthropy Women to help identify and address growing threats to global human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups. 

Several weeks ago, I woke up to the sound of my mother’s TV broadcasting the local morning news. “Breaking News! President Trump has reinstated a ban on Transgender troops this morning.” The White House later issued policy guidelines titled,  A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out, which would impact 15,000 trans service members.

Trump’s transgender ban is bigger than the right to serve in the U.S. military.  It is part of a longer trajectory by right-wing forces aiming to further oppress and denigrate trans people.

The reported number of trans people murdered rises every year. Police departments target, stigmatize and criminalize trans people, especially trans women of color. While protections against discrimination for some communities has increased over the years, housing, transportation and employment laws do not do the same for trans people.

These policies do not just keep trans people out of certain places or institutions, they are acts that sustain a consistently hostile culture toward transgender people.

As funders and allies, we cannot afford to stand in the shadows of these fights. We must elevate our level of boldness to end the growing wave of violence against transgender people.  And, to protect our nation’s humanity and dignity, we must center leadership and grassroots organizing in communities directly impacted by transphobia and gender-based violence.

Of the $52 billion awarded each year by U.S. foundations, transgender people see less than 1%. This means that transgender leaders need more resources to build trans power and drive necessary change for greater freedom and justice. This requires that funders and donors prioritize trans issues as they stand on their missions to empower and protect the human rights of all people.

How do we inspire unflinching support for the human rights of transgender people and acknowledge the pain caused by institutions, including the U.S. military?  How do we go beyond political statements and mobilize people to action? How do we support trans leaders?

Answers to these questions will not be found in board room meetings among our cisgender colleagues. In fact, a pathway forward, and the strategies to build a world without transphobia, have already been offered by bold trans leaders of color and organizations nationwide.

One of those leaders, Bamby Salcedo, a trans woman of color, founding president and CEO of the Trans Latin@ Coalition, and an advisor to the Liberation Fund, questioned the commitment of supporters who claim they stand with trans communities. In a Facebook response to Trump’s initial ban announcement, Salcedo pointed out that so-called supporters remain silent with regard to backing transgender people on issues, including inclusive legislation, economic justice, barriers in transgender education and academics, and increasing hate crimes and murders of transgender people.

Salcedo is correct – as a funder community we fail to support trans leadership, organizations, and issues at the scale that this work deserves.

Here is what philanthropy can do right now to support transgender justice:

  • Fund grassroots organizing of transgender of color communities led by Transgender folks of color.  At Groundswell, we have increased the number of trans-led groups on our docket, with plans to continue increasing. We must support the voices of those most affected.   
  • Invest in trans-friendly and inclusive HR policies, workforce development opportunities, and benefits. Be aggressive in recruitment of transgender people in leadership positions and on organization boards. Discrimination of transgender people contributes to high unemployment rates for this community. Review your hiring process and criteria to allow for different models of leadership to shine.
  • Don’t let fear of failure stop you from funding a new group! In philanthropy, we are too tied to “return on investment.” Because funding to trans-led organizing has been so scarce, we have yet to imagine the great success.

With fair and equitable funding and leadership, LGBTQ people of color-led organizations can increase capacity and effectively put anti-transgender policies to rest.

This support translates into concrete policy changes. In Los Angeles, the Trans Latin@ Coalition, which serves as a national leadership development model of transgender people, recently opened the Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness. Center staff worked with State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) to introduce the nation’s first transgender rights training, to combat discrimination and promote greater workforce inclusion for transgender Californians. The training is part of the Transgender Work Opportunity Act (Senate Bill 396). It would require some businesses to train employees on transgender identity, expression and sexual orientation as part of already-required sexual harassment training.

Progressive funders have a duty to support the trans leadership and organizations already giving us a road map. At Groundswell, our mission is to follow the lead of those most affected by these issues, especially concerning resources. Consequently, we must be willing to make mistakes, to take critical feedback, and to grow into stronger partners for trans liberation. Because we believe in the power of grassroots leadership to transform cultural and political landscapes, we take this approach seriously.

Xiomara Corpeño is the Director of Capacity Building for the Groundswell Fund.


This Trans-Led Fund is Blazing New Trails for Gender Justice

Which Inclusive Funder is Being Honored by NCRP for Smashing Silos?

$20 Million from Gates Foundation to Address Gender Inequality Globally

This pie chart, produced by Equal Measures 2030, shows that many policymakers in the development sector do not have full knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Timing couldn’t be better. Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will give $20 million over the next three years to empower women’s organizations globally.

The news comes on the same day that Equal Measures 2030 released a Gender Report along with the Gates Foundation and ONE Campaign Coalition at the United Nations General Assembly, taking place this week in New York.

Some of the new funding from the Gates Foundation will go toward better research and training, as well as multiplying support for grassroots activism in the gender equality sector of development.

Melinda Gates announced the new funding at a Gates Foundation event promoting the UN’s sustainable development goals. The $20 million in new funding represents about .05% of the Gates Foundation’s $40 billion in assets. An important difference in approach is being advanced with this funding, which will rely less heavily on science and more on building grassroots organizational power and efficacy. But while science might not be as key, data, and data-driven interventions, will play a big role in this new endeavor.

Why? Because many policymakers in the development sector still do not know what issues they need to address in order to make progress for gender equality. One example: maternal mortality rates.

Research supported by The Gates Foundation shows that many policymakers do not know some of the basic data about gender equality. This graphic shows the  accuracy of policymakers’ estimates of the scale of maternal mortality.

The report from Equal Measures 2030 states: “When asked to estimate the scale of several key issues – maternal mortality (the number of women dying from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth), girls married before the age of 18, women in the labor force, and women in parliament – relevant to girls and women in their country, policymakers were largely not confident in their knowledge of the facts.”

“Policymakers are flying blind when it comes to gender equality. Two thirds of policymakers believe progress has been made, but they aren’t confident in their knowledge of the facts and figures. It’s exactly this gap that Equal Measures 2030 seeks to close,” said Alison Holder, Director of Equal Measures 2030.

So while this new funding for gender equality grassroots movement building worldwide is desperately needed, there is much work to be done simply to figure out what the problems are before applying the solutions.

“We need the full picture if we’re to have any chance of meeting the ambitious promises set out in the SDGs,” added Holder.

Women’s nonprofits slated to get increased funding from the new Gates $20 million include Mamacash, a Dutch organization, which will get $4.5 million over three years. Other groups receiving funding include Change.org and the Prospera Network.

As we’ve written before, Melinda Gates has become increasingly focused on gender equality over the past several years. Now, it appears she is taking that focus to a larger scale and engaging more partners on the ground to enact a gender equality agenda.

At the same time, Equal Measure 2030 appears to be playing a critical role in helping to gather and share the data on gender equality in order to inform strategy on the ground. Equal Measures 2030 has a wide array of partners helping to build this database and make it useful to strategists and policymakers. Besides the Gates Foundation, other partners for Equal Measure 2030 include PLAN International, ONE Campaign, ARROW, Data2X, Women Deliver, KPMG, International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), and The African Women’s Development & Communication Network (FEMNET).

More on the study here.


Pivoting Toward Women’s Empowerment: How Melinda is Doing Gates Philanthropy Differently

What Happened: Clinton’s Account Reveals Our Broken Democracy

Mother’s Milk Funders: What Can Women in Philanthropy Do For International Breastfeeding Week?




What Happened: Clinton’s Account Reveals Our Broken Democracy

I’ve been listening to Hillary Clinton’s What Happened in spurts over the past few days, and it’s time to start sharing some of the highlights. In her own voice on audio, Clinton speaks on a wide range of topics related to her political life. In particular, Clinton speaks with regret about taking speaking fees from large financial corporations and analyzes how the alt-right’s slandering the Clinton Foundation skewed the election.

I am now on Chapter 9, and this is when What Happened gets very relevant to philanthropy. I highly recommend listening to the book on audio — it really helps to have the words spoken by Hillary Clinton, who is destined for legendary status in the history of women’s advancement, whether she won the presidency or not.

From Hillary Clinton:

My life after leaving politics had turned out to be pretty great. I had joined Bill and Chelsea as a new Board member of the Clinton Foundation which Bill had turned into a major global philanthropy after leaving office. This allowed me to pursue my own passions and have an impact without all the bureaucracy and petty squabbles of Washington. I admired what Bill had built, and I loved that Chelsea had decided to bring her knowledge of public health and her private sector experience to the foundation, to improve its management, transparency, and performance, after a period of rapid growth.

At the 2002 International AIDS conference in Barcelona, Bill had a conversation with Nelson Mandela about the urgent need to lower the price of HIV/AIDS drugs in Africa and across the world. Bill figured he was well positioned to help, so he began negotiating agreements with drug makers and governments to lower medicine prices dramatically and to raise the money to pay for it. It worked. More than 11.5 million people in more than 70 countries now have access to cheaper HIV AIDS treatment. Right now, out of everyone being kept alive by these drugs in developing countries around the world, more than half the adults and 75 percent of the children are benefiting from the Clinton Foundation’s work.

It is shocking to consider the real-world positive impact of the Clinton Foundation’s work, and the degree to which the alt-right’s skewed portrayal of the Clinton Foundation might have influenced public opinion during the election. Hearing Clinton speak about it, it becomes clear that more must be done to investigate what happened.

Clinton goes on to detail the extensive philanthropic work the Clinton Foundation does in improving nutrition and exercise in public schools, protecting endangered species, addressing climate change in the Caribbean, and more. Then, she talks about my favorite part. Read on:

When I joined the Foundation in 2013, I teamed up with Melinda Gates the Gates Foundation a to launch an initiative called No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project to Advance Rights and Opportunities for Women and Girls around the world. I also created a program called Too Small to Fail, to encourage reading, talking and singing to infants and toddlers, to help their brains develop and build vocabulary. […]

None of these programs had to poll well or fit on a bumper sticker; they just had to make a positive difference in the world. After years in the political trenches, that was both refreshing and rewarding.

I can imagine what a difference Clinton was experiencing as she spent more time with the Clinton Foundation and started to build her own sense of strategy into the organization’s mission. But her involvement with her own family’s foundation was destined to have devastating consequences to her political career.

I knew from experience that if I ran for president again, everything that Bill and I had ever touched would be subject to scrutiny and attack, including the foundation.  That was a concern, but I never imagined that this widely respected global charity would be as savagely smeared and attacked as it was. For years, the foundation and CGI had been supported by republicans and democrats alike. Independent philanthropy watchdogs, Charity Watch, Guidestar, and Charity Navigator, gave the the Clinton Foundation top marks for reducing overhead and having a measurable, positive impact. […]

But none of that stopped brutal partisan attacks from raining down during the campaign.

I have written by the Foundation at some length because a recent analysis published in the Columbia Journalism Review showed that during the campaign, there was twice as much written about the Clinton Foundation as there was on any of the Trump scandals, and nearly all it was negative. That gets to me.

It gets to me, too. In a big way.  It is a wrong that must be addressed by a full investigation into the media manipulation that skewed the election. It was nearly impossible to learn real information about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Even my 10 year old daughter was coming home from school with talking points for me about how Clinton’s emails needed to be more fully investigated.

Back to Hillary:

As Daniel Borochoff, the founder of Charity Watch put it, “If Hillary Clinton wasn’t running for President, the Clinton Foundation would be seen as one of the great humanitarian charities of our generation.”

That’s right. The fake news on the Clinton Foundation may have had a profound impact, given that there was twice as much of that fake news heaped on the American media consumer than any of the much more atrocious news stories about Donald Trump, including his sexual assault of a woman and his University’s fraudulent dealings.

I hope to share more about the book as I continue on, but there is no doubt that you should listen to it yourself. For what it’s worth, I also find listening to the book recharges my battery for making the democratic party a stronger entity. The urgency of the party’s need to take back the country in the next election has never felt so real. The book also renews my respect for Clinton and her life work. She is not a perfect human being, but she is a darn good one, and she would have made an excellent leader of our country.

Philanthropy Women will also publish a review of the book from Tim Lehnert in the coming weeks.


The Clinton Foundation is Alive and Well and Looking to Expand Some Programs

Clinton Foundation Brings Together Over 40 Partners for Girl Athletes

New Women’s Scholarship Fund Launched by University in Israel

Pictured is the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Library at the University of Haifa, which educates students from Israel and around the world. Photo courtesy of the library’s website.

Last week in New York, over 50 female philanthropists came together to launch a new educational scholarship fund for women.

At the occasion, the American Society of University of Haifa announced the founding of its new Women’s Scholarship Fund. The scholarship seeks to engage women at all levels of philanthropy and support female students at all levels of education.

“We are very committed to education. Education is the key to everything. It is something that you can’t take away and if you give someone an education, it will enable them to help themselves for the rest of their life,” said Lady Irene Hatter, who spoke at the gathering. With their philanthropy, Hatter and her husband, Sir Maurice Hatter, support World Jewish Relief and World ORT, a worldwide Jewish educational NGO.

The new Women’s Scholarship Fund aims to blaze new funding trails by engaging women donors in the U.S., many of whom control significant assets and are becoming increasingly educated and active in family giving.   At the gathering, Karen Berman, CEO of the American Society of University of Haifa (ASUH), made the case for the role of education in advancing women’s lives. “Education is critical to improving lives and communities,” she said. “Nowhere is that transformative power more evident than at University of Haifa.” ASUH is dedicated to helping the University of Haifa expand its role as a global academic institution.


Want to Invest with a Gender Lens? Put this Women-Owned Firm On Your Interview List

Women Givers: This New Platform Will Help You Empty Your Closets for Your Favorite Cause

How This Nonprofit is Using the SDG’s to Help Women Thrive Globally

This Graph Speaks Volumes on Loss of Women’s Leadership Under Trump

It couldn’t be clearer. Democrats like Obama and Clinton increased women in cabinet leadership. Republicans decreased this leadership. Graph courtesy of Pew Research Center’s Data on Women Leaders.

One big step forward for the Republican party, one big step backward for women’s equality in political leadership. The graph here kind of says it all — we’re back to a Republican president and low, low numbers of women in cabinet leadership positions.

The Pew Research Center recently presented some of the longitudinal data on women’s growing roles in business and  political leadership, and the full report is worth checking out.

Another thing you’ll notice on the graph:  the percentage of women in cabinet positions under President Bill Clinton was higher both terms (31.8% for his first term and 40.9% for his second term) than the percentage of women in cabinet positions for Obama’s two terms (30.4% for his first term and 34.8% for his second term). Sigh. Returning to the Clinton dynasty is starting to look better all the time, particularly for women’s leadership.

In the good news department, women’s leadership on Fortune 500 Boards has been steadily creeping up, and now stands at 21%, which isn’t a great number, but it’s better than 1987 when the number stood at 2%. We have to take victories where we can get them.

Also, women governors took a huge hit this election cycle, going from 12% nationally down to 8%. Ouch.

Lesson learned: when in doubt about who to vote for in a Presidential election, vote Democrat for more gender equality in leadership.


Coming Soon: Hillary Clinton’s Book, and Update on PW’s Launch

It’s Friday afternoon and I still want to squeeze in some of my daughter’s soccer game, but I also want to let readers know that we are putting together a progress report on how we are doing as a new media outlet. Hopefully that will come out next week. Also upcoming we have reviews of What Happened, to catch up on one of most important political and philanthropic leaders, Hillary Rodham Clinton. We’ll also be reviewing Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870–1967 for all you history buffs out there.

Have a great weekend!

Ashindi Maxton: Fund with Radical Trust to Redefine “Expertise”

Ashindi Maxton is a Senior Advisor and funding strategist for the Women Donors Network (WDN) with extensive work in democratic reform, racial justice, and education.

Editor’s Note: This is an editorial by Ashindi Maxton, who is a Senior Advisor for the Women Donors Network (WDN), one of our Spotlight Organizations. The editorial tells the story of how WDN and its allies have been able to effectively bring in more partners to fund the resistance. As Ms. Maxton points out, the Threshold Fund and the Democracy Alliance joined WDN and Solidaire to expand the Emergent Fund, amplifying the ability of that fund to protect and empower marginalized communities.

From Ashindi Maxton:

Philanthropy in the U.S. has never faced a moment quite like this one. New threats loom larger over one community after another in steady sequence and core norms of equity and democracy feel suddenly unstable.

Muslim-Americans face hate crimes and travel bans. Immigrant communities face criminalization and deportations. Women face attacks on reproductive rights. Black and Latino communities face attacks on civil liberties, including voting rights and police violence. LGBTQ communities face a loss of the most basic protections in employment and public safety.

As the level of threats we are facing increases, philanthropy must also elevate our level of response. The philanthropic community cannot meet this rapid barrage of unpredictable threats using our traditional models. Instead, we must question some of our own core assumptions.

A few best practices we could begin to question include funding driven by rigid long-term planning, extensive organization vetting, and decisions made entirely by donors or foundation staff who are removed from the crises at hand. We have to ask ourselves if our funding models seize the tremendous opportunity of the historical and political moment.

The Women Donors Network (WDN) and Solidaire, two networks of individual donors committed to funding movements for racial and social justice, shared a key question, “How can our work rise to the level of these crises?”

Two driving principles for our response: responding at the speed of the threats and placing radical trust in the threatened communities to develop their own solutions.

With these principles as the foundation, we built a funding partnership for rapid response called “The Emergent Fund.” The name refers to “emergent strategy,” solutions that fluidly adapt to rapidly changing conditions. Our shared vision was for the Emergent Fund to support the work of threatened communities to build their own new reality — one that emerges on the other side of crisis and supports organizing that uses the energy of the moment to build powerful new thinking as envisioned by community leaders.

Foundation staff and wealthy donors often do not reflect the communities most at risk in this moment. Mainstream philanthropy is anchored in a conviction that people with advanced degrees and sophisticated titles are best positioned to solve social problems although they are the furthest removed from impacted communities. Knowledge of those communities is too often considered irrelevant in hiring or decisionmaking.

The Emergent Fund, on the contrary, was based on the premise that expertise lives in the communities we want to support.

The process we used to ensure that the expertise of community members drives and informs our funding decisions was steeped in networking with community leaders.

We started by calling the organizers and community leaders, most affected by today’s political moment, that we knew and asked about needs and approaches to this work and criteria we could use to allocate funding.

Next, we formed a brilliant decision-making advisory council of eleven well-respected and networked community leaders and funder representatives with community organizing backgrounds. This group of mostly women included Latinx, Black, Asian, Arab-American, Muslim, Native, White, and LGBTQ members.

We designed an easy application form, available on our website for anyone to apply, based on our mutually agreed on criteria.

Finally, we asked a second set of diverse activist leaders from across many communities to serve as a Nominations Network, to let others know about the Emergent Fund, to vet strong proposals, and to provide feedback to inform funding decisions.

This model, adapted from other models like the North Star fund and Marguerite Casey Foundation, which have been doing activist advised funding for many years, was based on curating thoughtful decision-makers with expertise in the communities we wanted to support. In every conversation, we learned about critical dynamics previously overlooked or ignored by other philanthropy colleagues.

Two additional networks of progressive donors, the Threshold Fund and the Democracy Alliance, joined our effort. In the first few months of 2017, their individual donors helped to raise over one million dollars allocated directly to communities most in need.

As we reflect on the lessons learned from the initial launch of the Emergent Fund, one thing is clear: any funder concerned with social change should be grappling to answer this question, “Who is best equipped to solve the challenges facing the most threatened communities?”

Philanthropy cannot presume expertise over the people whose lives are most directly impacted in this moment. Rising to historical moments should mean letting go of practices that have not served us or these communities well. Now is the time to experiment with and adopt new funding and leadership models led by people forming responses and vision from their own lived experience.

# # #

Ashindi Maxton is a senior advisor and funding strategist for the Women Donors Network (WDN) with extensive work in democratic reform, racial justice, and education. The Women Donors Network, a community of more than 200 progressive women donors who invest their energy, strategic savvy, and philanthropic dollars to build a just and fair world.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about becoming a Philanthropy Women Spotlight Organization, please contact us.

Which Inclusive Funder is Being Honored by NCRP for Smashing Silos?

Groundswell Fund is a 2017 award winner of the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy’s IMPACT Award.

On August 29, Groundswell Fund announced its selection by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy as a 2017 recipient of NCRP’s Impact Award.  On September 18, Groundswell Fund will join three other Impact Award recipients in New Orleans at the sold-out CHANGE Philanthropy Unity Summit to receive the “Smashing Silos” Award for intersectional grantmaking.

“Receiving the Smashing Silos award means the tides are turning,” said Groundswell Executive Director Vanessa Daniel. “The leaders and organizations we support are on the front lines of every major issue we face right now. They bring the lived experience, the knowledge, the strategy and the vision our movements need.”

The “Smashing Silos” Award is validation of Groundswell’s fast-growing approach, which prioritizes women of color, low-income women and transgender people. Groundswell Fund is one of four recipients of the prestigious NCRP award. The other awardees are the Foundation for Louisiana which will receive the “Mover and Shaker” award for bold peer organizing, Meyer Memorial Trust will receive the “Changing Course” Award for incorporating feedback, and Solutions Project will receive the “Get Up, Stand Up” Award for rapid-response grantmaking.

This is the 5th Anniversary of NCRP’s Impact Awards. NCRP’s mission is to promote philanthropic responsiveness to the needs of underserved communities, as well as to enhance philanthropic accountability and effectiveness.  The Impact Awards honor top grantmakers committed to diversity and inclusion that strengthens marginalized communities. NCRP has given out 19 Impact Awards since 2013. A full list of past NCRP Impact Awardees is available here.

Based in Oakland, California, Groundswell Fund has made major advances for funding the resistance, particularly around the needs of women of color and LGBTQ people of color. Its Liberation Fund, which we wrote about here, has now secured $500,000 in funding for its first set of grants, and has recruited “15 prominent advisors from across environmental, racial and economic justice, to immigrant, Native and transgender rights,” according to the press release about the award. Groundswell plans to announce its first set of grantees this Fall 2017.


New “Liberation Fund” Aims to Bolster Reproductive Justice and Gender Equality

Can’t Get Promoted in Nonprofits? Maybe It’s Because You’re an LGBTQ Person of Color

Ms. Foundation to Philanthropy: Grow Local Economies by Supporting Low Wage Workers and Childcare Access