How to Reach Critical Mass for Gender Equality Movements

A remarkable piece recently published in Time Magazine discusses how the “structures that enable sexism are exploding,” with every day seeming to bring new bombshells. Today’s bombshells were Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor (yes, it’s apparently true). All of this has been made possible by a culture that is finally starting to open up about the nearly ubiquitous harassment of women happening in our homes, schools and businesses.

The Time Magazine article, by Jay Newton Small, explains that when women reach 20 to 30% of the critical mass in an industry, change starts to happen. Women begin to take the risk of revealing their #MeToo stories. Men begin to talk about how they felt pressured to fulfill gender norms with aggressive sexual behavior. People of all genders begin to open up about how their lives were impacted by sexual trauma.

We are moving toward that point in our culture. This is a good thing, because we can evolve toward healthier relationships and less rigid gender norms. We can begin to make real systems change for gender equality, sector by sector, as different parts of society become more gender equal. But this won’t happen without the intentional effort of progressive movements to provide better news and information.

This is where Philanthropy Women comes in, along with a host of other micropublishers online who are amplifying important information that the mainstream media ignores, suppresses, or just doesn’t get. Philanthropy Women is providing critical news and information to a sector that needs more attention — leaders who are working to make our country more gender equal and inclusive. Many of these leaders have been doing this work quietly for decades, and are now beginning to realize the importance of sharing their vision and strategy.

We want to amplify those leaders in women’s philanthropy, and catalyze new conversations on how to reach critical mass for gender equality. We  want to get more men involved in and talking about feminist philanthropy. We want to host more conversations like the #FundWomen Twitter chats we did recently with WomenThrive and the Women Donors Network, that brought in new voices and helped enrich the conversation in the women’s funding arena.

But we can’t do this without support. We have some funding to keep going, but not enough to grow to the next level. If we are able to raise more for this coming year, we will be able to do more — hire more writers, produce more unique content, host more conversations and events. By funding Philanthropy Women, you are helping knowledge about progressive women’s philanthropy grow, which helps make the movement more powerful and more accessible to others.

We are not a 501(c)3, but we do accept donations from readers and supporters. If you are interested in being a lead sponsor of Philanthropy Women, please contact us.

Recap of #GivingTuesday Twitter Chat #FundWomen with WDN

For Giving Tuesday today, we hosted a discussion with Donna Hall, President and CEO of the Women Donors Network, as well as other members of the philanthropy women community.

It is always so interesting to hear about how women’s giving takes a more multidimensional approach to social change.

Thanks to the Women Donors Network for participating in the Twitter chat today. I also want to thank all those who chimed in for the discussion, and our donors who support us, particularly Ruth Ann Harnisch and Emily Nielsen Jones.

Join WDN and Philanthropy Women on #GivingTuesday to #FundWomen

Soon, the shopping rampage will be over, and we can get on with a much more interesting event of the season: #GivingTuesday. This year on Giving Tuesday, we will be hosting a Twitter chat along with the Women Donors Network, where we will talk about the diverse and powerful ways philanthropy can #fundwomen and make a lasting impact for gender equality.

Please join us on Tuesday, November 28 at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT) for a one-hour conversation on the importance of funding women in today’s philanthropy landscape.

Topic: Why #FundWomen on #GivingTuesday?

Host: @philanthrowomen

Discussant: @womendonors

Hashtags: #FundWomen #GivingTuesday

Questions for Women Donors Network:

Q1) Today is Giving Tuesday. What advice do you have for individuals looking to give today?

Q2) What is the advantage of funding women’s rights organizations over other types of philanthropy?

Q3) What actions can we take to support gender equality as citizens and givers?

Q4) What are some resources that donors can use to educate themselves on investing in women’s rights?

Twitter chat guidelines:

At the beginning of the chat, Philanthropy Women will introduce the topic and invite everyone to introduce themselves.  At about 1:10 pm EDT (10:10 am PDT), we will begin tweeting the questions. We invite others to share their answers by using A1 for the first answer, A2 for the second answer and so on for each question.  Philanthropy Women will try to respond to as many of the conversation members as possible, and will also provide some tweets that respond to the questions. Please include hashtag #FundWomen in all tweets.

We did a similar event on National Philanthropy Day with Nonprofit organization WomenThrive. We had over 100 participants including leaders in several women’s funds, and philanthropy leaders Ruth Ann Harnisch and Jacki Zehner. We also had participation from members of the media like PBS’ To the Contrary. We hope this conversation with Women Donors Network will also be as fruitful for generating more awareness about feminist philanthropy and its potential to address a range of social and economic issues.

Hope you join in on #GivingTuesday at 1 pm EST on Twitter!


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Women’s Growing Financial Power: Gender Lens Investing Explodes in 2017

This graph from Veris Wealth Partners shows the remarkable growth in Gender Lens Investing over the past three years.

Great news for the gender lens investing sector — 2017 brought a massive 41% increase in public market securities that use gender lens strategies.

A report entitled Gender Lens Investing: Investment Options in the Public Markets produced by Veris Wealth Partners has the details. Suzanne Biegel, Founder of Catalyst At Large,  is credited with collaborating and gathering the information used in the analysis, this being her second year working in partnership with Veris Wealth Partners to create the public market scan. The study pulls together information from over 23 gender lens investment instruments produced by a wide range of financial companies including Barclay’s, Pax Ellevate, State Street Global Investors, ThirtyNorth Investments, Morgan Stanley, and others.

This news is not only good for the sector of gender lens investing — it’s good news for the larger world as well, since there is growing evidence that when women have more access to financial resources, money often gets distributed more widely, and economies thrive.

Gender lens investing made a remarkable jump in 2017, going from $645 million in 2016 to $910 million in 2017. And while $910 million is an impressive amount of money to be devoted to gender lens investing, in the larger picture of asset management as a whole, the gender lens investing sector is still relatively small. In an industry that manages an estimated total of $71.4 trillion dollars as of 2015, $910 million is .00127% of that $71.4 trillion total — in other words, a drop in the bucket of total financial assets under management.

An analysis by Bloomberg combined public securities gender lens investing with estimates of other forms of gender-based investing and found that in 2017, over $1.3 billion had also been invested in private equity and venture capital at 50 funds using gender-based strategies. So if we add that $1.3 billion in with the $910 million, we’re at about $2.2 billion, or .00308%.

But it’s movement in the right direction. The financial sector will no doubt be paying more attention to gender lens investing in the future, as women become more fluent in exercising their financial power. Women in philanthropy are wise to look at gender lens investing as a close cousin of gender equality philanthropy — another important way to deploy funding for maximum female empowerment. We also need to look for ways to make the public aware of the benefits of gender lens investing, and make gender lens investing more accessible to different sectors of the economy — middle class investors, for example, and institutional investors.

Full report is here.


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Philanthropy Women Honors the Holiday Season with Self-Care

The holiday season means different things to all of us, but one meaning I would like to suggest we share this holiday season is a renewed dedication to self-care.

The idea of self-care can seem trite, but it is definitely not all about getting manicures. When I work with clients in my therapy practice, I like to help them widen their definition of self-care to include acts large and small that we can do to bring ourselves to a healthier place emotionally and physically. Here are a few examples from my life:

  • Look through the gender lens at your own life, and realize that the holidays might mean extra work for you as a woman. Explore ways to delegate holiday work to those around you who are able to give with their time and attention.
  • Re-read a familiar book that helps to reset your mind. My book is Diary of A Nobody by George and Weedon Grosssmith. Reading it is like rinsing my brain with a conditioner that take out some of the toxicity and negativity of daily life.
  • Watch a sit-com or other TV/film that helps shift you into a more neutral state, if you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed. Cute animal videos can also do the trick.
  • Do 10 minutes of unscheduled aerobic exercise. Get your heart rate up, and then feel how it makes your brain work differently. (If you are in some work environments, this sometimes needs to be done in the bathroom to avoid undue scrutiny. Yes, I did aerobics and yoga in the bathroom at corporate jobs.)
  • Linger longer over an activity you enjoy. Bake or cook alone or with others. Play games. Go out to dinner. Take a walk. Feel glad about the value of your solitude as well as the value of your relationships, and find time at the holidays to celebrate both.
  • Take selfies. Paris Hilton may have invented the Selfie,  but I’m inventing the selfie for self-care. Be your own model for pictures of good moments in life. Take more selfies at the holidays, to reinforce the experience of enjoying yourself a moment.

In particular for women in philanthropy, an important component of self-care involves investing in and amplifying our vision for a more loving and tolerant world. Use the holiday season to contemplate new ideas for your vision of a better world. Take time to imagine how your ideas might evolve, and allow your intuition to guide you about how to pursue them.


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Feminist Alert: New Tool for Growing Young Feminists Now Available

This is How We Do It: Celebrating Some Feminist Victories






Check Out #FundWomen Remixed with Storify

An interesting new tool called Storify helps to aggregate a social media conversation into a story. This is the first one I have created, and it was pretty easy!

The Storify helps to see who participated and to review what everyone said. We had some excellent questions and commentary, including participation from PBS To the Contrary, Philanthropists Ruth Ann Harnisch (disclosure: she is a sponsor of Philanthropy Women) and Jacki Zehner, as well as many nonprofits and women’s funds. Check it out!


Tomorrow at 11 AM EST, Join the Conversation to #FundWomen, and Get a Tweet Preview Here

I’m excited about the #FundWomen Twitter Chat, starting tomorrow at 11 AM EST.   Also joining the conversation: clothing company Michael Stars, which has a foundation and uses its philanthropy to effect positive change for women.
Below is a sneak peek of a few of my upcoming tweets!
Here’s part of my answer for Question #2:  How and why do you opt to fund women’s rights organizations?
The Women’s Living Room donated $1,788 to Artists Exchange for theatre scholarships for girls. Pictured are Women’s Living Room 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.

I saw how my daughters flourished from improv programs at @ArtistsoExchange, so had confidence in their work. I started a giving circle and we made a grant of $1,788 to @ArtistsExchange to fund scholarships for girls #fundwomen #nationalphilanthropyday

For Question #4: Why is philanthropy so important when it comes to women’s rights and gender equality?

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.

Philanthropy has the capacity to catalyze a feminist economy. Women’s leadership can move us toward economic models that bring prosperity to families and transform relationships from exploitative to collaborative.#fundwomen #nationalphilanthropyday

When women work, they typically distribute 90% of their income to the people around them. Women don’t hoard profits. Women understand the concept of reciprocity and think of the needs of others sooner than most men. #fundwomen #nationalphilanthropyday

Looking forward to sharing more, and hearing responses from others to these questions tomorrow.


To #FundWomen, Join Us on National Philanthropy Day

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To #FundWomen, Join Us on National Philanthropy Day

We all have a unique journey in giving, and now that my journey has landed squarely on feminist philanthropy, I am excited to host a Twitter chat on National Philanthropy Day, to discuss my journey as a giver and to learn about your journey. I believe that by conversing, we can do more than we realize to help each other along the way.

The Twitter Chat will take place on National Philanthropy Day, Wednesday, November 15th, at 11 AM EST it, and will last for one hour. The chat is being hosted by Women Thrive Alliance, one of our spotlight organizations, and will focus on the following:

Topic: The Added Value of Funding Women’s Rights Organizations

Host: @WomenThrive

Discussant: @philanthrowomen

Hashtags: #FundWomen #NationalPhilanthropyDay


Q1) Today is National Philanthropy Day. What advice do you have for individuals looking to give today?

Q2) How and why do you opt to fund women’s rights organizations?

Q3) What advice can you give to individuals who want to  fund grassroots organizations?

Q4) Why is philanthropy so important when it comes to women’s rights and gender equality?

Q5) What are some resources that donors can use to educate themselves on investing in women’s rights?

Twitter chat guidelines:

At the beginning of the chat, Women Thrive will ask participants to tweet and say ‘hello.’ Women Thrive will go over how to answer the tweets – i.e. answer Q1 with A1; Q2 with A2 for all tweets corresponding to that question. Women Thrive will then begin by tweeting out the questions. Lastly, please include #FundWomen in all tweets.

Please help us bring in more voices to this conversation by sharing about this is event on Twitter.

Some areas I hope to cover include the growing use of giving circles as a vehicle for grassroots feminist philanthropy, ways to influence the communities around you to analyze their gender data, and ways to use your sweat equity as  a writer, thinker, and amplifier to support feminist philanthropy. I will also be culling from our growing database of article on Philanthropy Women that are calling attention to the past, present, and future of how we #fundwomen.

See you next Wednesday, 11 AM EST, on Twitter!


From Resistance to Renaissance: Women Must Embrace their Power for Funding Social Change


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Philanthropy Women at 6 Months: An Update on Our Growth



From Resistance to Renaissance: Women Must Embrace their Power for Funding Social Change

Allison Fine, author and nonprofit leader, is Vice Chair of NARAL: ProChoice America Foundation.

Editor’s Note: It gives me great pleasure to welcome Allison Fine to Philanthropy Women as a guest contributor. Allison is the author of multiple books including Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age and The Networked Nonprofit. A former Senior Fellow at Demos, Allison specializes in the intersections of online activism and democracy-building. 

Exactly a year ago, millions of women across the country created the Resistance. We have marched and protested, shared our outrage using hashtags such as #metoo, #yessallwomen #nastywomen and called (and called and called) Congress. Now it’s time to shift from powering the Resistance to creating the Renaissance. However, there is one huge barrier, the “final frontier” as philanthropist Ruth Ann Harnisch calls it: our discomfort with money and power.

According to one study, more women are giving to more causes than ever before. However, the amount of money women are giving hasn’t gone up correspondingly. Here is the key point, “Men may represent a smaller slice of the donor pool, but they have made up for it by giving more money, keeping their impact and influence similar to what it was in 1990.”

Even though many women are wealthier than ever, we have yet to connect the dots between money, influence and power.

So, how do we shift to funding the Renaissance?

First, we have to put our name on things. Frankly, no one really needs to have their name on a building; however, we do need to put our names on important issues and causes and campaigns. Pick a critically important issue for rebuilding our democracy, and there are plenty of them, say immigration or anti-gerrymandering or climate change, and then tell the world you are funding it at a significant level. Step out into the spotlight and say, “This is where my $10,000 is going.” Be proud of your contribution. Your pride  will be contagious and other women will do the same.

The second thing we need to do is to get comfortable asking for money. Even if you can’t write a big check, it is likely that there are people in your social networks who can. Now, don’t get into the habit of asking for money from everyone all the time because people will begin to cross the street to get away from you. But you need to get comfortable with the sentence, “Can you write a check for $10,000?” And that’s just for starters, eventually it has to be $100,000. Then $1,000,000 has to become part of your vocabulary. That’s what those seats around the board table are reserved for – not for the nice people or the smart people, women have always been those people, but for the people who can write, or get, million dollar checks.

And finally, we have to create our own systems if we can’t get equitable access to existing ones. There are powerful women in Hollywood and even  a few women in the C suite here and there, but they work within a system created by and maintained by men. We need women-owned studios and banks and venture capital firms. We have women’s foundations, but they are far too small to have a big impact. We need more women to contribute to these funds or pool their money as parts of giving circles in order to magnify the impact of their giving.

The revitalization of our country will be led this time by founding mothers, but only when we embrace our own power and leverage our wealth and connections to create a more equitable society.


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Relationship-Building for Progressive Power: A Conversation with Leah Hunt-Hendrix

Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Solidaire.

“How do you get movements to scale, while at the same time keeping them based on relationships?” asks Leah Hunt-Hendrix, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Solidaire. It’s a question central to many progressive movements that want to help communities grow from within.

Solidaire formed in 2013, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Movement, the Arab Spring, and anti-austerity protests in Europe. These disparate movements did not seek narrow policy change; instead, they sought to question—and remake—their societies, disrupting systemic inequality and injustice.

Like these movements, Solidaire seeks to support non-traditional social transformation, says Hunt-Hendrix. By empowering grassroots organizations like Black Lives Matter and their allies, it directs funding at the crosshairs of political struggle and progressive change.

And how is Solidaire growing its impact? By growing its own relationships, of course.

“Often, people find us through other members,” says Hunt-Hendrix of Solidaire’s more than 150 participant donors.  Hunt-Hendrix spoke to me by telephone from her apartment in San Francisco, her Maltipoo, Malcolm, occasionally punctuating the conversation with a bark.

Members of Solidaire contribute $5,000 yearly to the organization’s operating budget, and another $10,000 to a pooled fund for grantmaking (“Movement R&D”). Members can also fund particular groups, and support “Rapid Response for Movement Moments.” Solidaire is thus able to respond immediately to particular needs, yet at the same time build a movement infrastructure for the long term.

Solidaire’s five-person all-female staff is based in New York and the Bay Area, and recently closed the application process for its most recent round of Movement R&D grantmaking. In keeping with Solidaire’s philosophy of bottom-to-top activism, “Previous grantees work with members to help make decisions about the next cycle of funding,” says Hunt-Hendrix.

Support from Solidaire can be used for staging protests and events, convening conferences, hiring staff, trainings, and even installations. “We don’t want to constrain the recipient organization by insisting the money goes in a certain way,” says Hunt-Hendrix, who notes that traditional philanthropy has tended to be paternalistic, and reinforce rather than disrupt hierarchies.

Solidaire is particularly interested in supporting movements working for racial and economic justice, but feminist, ecological, immigrant, and other progressive movements are well represented. Grantees have included Black Momentum, Reclaim Chicago, Honor the Earth (Native American environmental issues), Jolt (Texas Latinos), and the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute. The latter is a Detroit-based organization led by adrienne maree brown (no caps intentional) that fosters, “adaptation, interdependence, creating more possibilities, collaborative ideation, fractal thinking, transformative justice and resilience through decentralization.” In other words, not business as usual.

“One of my favorites,” says Hunt-Hendrix of grantee organizations, “is The Debt Collective, which is a union of debtors that collectively bargains with creditors.” As The Debt Collective website notes, “If you owe the bank $50k, the bank owns you. But if you owe the bank $100 million, you own the bank.”

But back to the question of how to fund grassroots movements through growing a community internally.  Hunt-Hendrix’s background may be of some help here. Her mother is feminist icon Helen LaKelly Hunt, and her father relationship guru Harville Hendrix, author of numerous self-help books in the field. They are a true “power couple” in building what they term a “Relationship Revolution … in which the primary value is relationship and universal equality is a reality.”

“They were very much an influence,” says Hunt-Hendrix; still, she says she is surprised at how much her current work mirrors that of her mother. Hunt-Hendrix says that in addition to a passion for gender equity, her mother recognizes, “the role of money in movement building.” In other words, people of means using their wealth to counteract pernicious systems of economic inequality, sexism, and racism.

Hunt-Hendrix is a descendant of Texas oil barons (the Hunt Family), and grew up in New York. She attended Duke as an undergraduate, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in religion, ethics and politics from Princeton. Her thesis was on the concept of solidarity and its role in European social movements. Hunt-Hendrix did not aspire to a position in academia, and says her doctorate was part intellectual exercise, part trade-school. “I really wanted to have a better understanding of how social movements work,” she says. “It helped me understand a theory of change, and how we form a collective identity and create a ‘we.’”

An additional influence on Hunt-Hendrix was the time she spent in Egypt, Syria and Palestine in 2007-2009. Hunt-Hendrix left for the Middle East after her first year at Princeton, and spent her time abroad learning Arabic, and studying and working with NGOs and direct-action movements. She concluded that traditional NGOs were not effective in disrupting power structures, and that social change had to come from collective action on the part of the disenfranchised.

Of course, Hunt-Hendrix could have gotten this education in any number of places, but says she had just started college at Duke when 9/11 happened, and, “It felt like we were suddenly at war with the Middle East.” She knew the situation was more complicated than that, and wanted to spend time in the Arabic world to better understand the region and its people. The struggles of Egyptian peasants and occupied Palestinians that she observed have turned out to be highly relevant to resistance efforts in the U.S.

“Protests and demonstrations are a form of narrative,” says Hunt-Hendrix. “People are putting their bodies in the street to bring attention to an issue. They are using direct action to make a point.” Solidaire supports such actions, says Hunt-Hendrix, because, “Nobody wants to fund them.” Challenges to the prevailing order, particularly by marginalized communities using unconventional tactics, make people uncomfortable. Moreover, traditional donors often don’t see the connection between such movements and policy change.

“It should be seen as a process,” says Hunt-Hendrix, “The first step is starting a conversation.” This is followed by strategizing and organizing, and then changes in laws and practices. Finally, there is holding office-holders accountable. “Sometimes that effort takes you back to the initial conversation,” she says.

Generating ideas, getting grassroots buy-in, and galvanizing people to think about social change is essential, says Hunt-Hendrix. “People who want change often start with policy, without having brought in the voices of the community.”

Ultimately, Solidaire suggests that the process of reversing inequalities and promoting social justice is not just about legislative and administrative nuts and bolts, but also the relationships that people have with one another, and the economic, political and cultural structures within which those relationships occur.


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