A new report out from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute helps to distill some key traits that progressive women donors share. The report, entitled “Giving By and For Women,” is a first-of-its-kind study involving in-depth interviews with women donors who are focused on giving to women and girls.
“Acquisition of wealth gives these donors hyperagency,” says the report’s conclusions, and this hyperagency is worth studying for the way it influences social change. The common traits that these donors exhibit are worth recognizing, since they form a particular pattern of life experiences and values that contribute to the focus of their giving. The report also importantly notes that “these interviews are not generalizable to a larger population of donors.”
So what do these gender equality-focused donors look like? An infographic accompanying the report outlines seven key traits discovered:
She learns philanthropy young. Early values of “giving what they could” exhibited by parents of participants influenced their choice to get into philanthropy.
She believes there is added value and impact to investing in women and girls. Women donors interviewed saw funding women and girls as the best return-on-investment for their philanthropy dollars.
Empathy is at the heart of her philanthropy. Study participants cited their own experiences of gender discrimination and social inequality as motivating their decisions to fund women and girls.
She comes to philanthropy self-educated. Participants take education very seriously and do not avoid the data and research when developing funding strategies. Education comes in the form of conversations and networking for many of these women, as well as staying on top of the latest studies.
She’s a risk-taker. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, the women we spoke with expressed a willingness to take risks with their philanthropy, funding experimental initiatives rather than just known solutions,” says the study. Many study participants also had experienced risk-taking in starting their own businesses.
She believes the cost of financial privilege is social responsibility. High- net-worth women in the study expressed an awareness of the added load of responsibility that comes with their wealth.
She sees the deeper impact of systemic change. Progressive women donors have figured out that without partnering in the real world with government and business, there will be no real change for women. They work to get upstream at problems by changing the larger social systems creating inequality.
As a writer focused on progressive women donors and their allies, reading through this study was a validating experience. It confirmed many of my own my observations of the women donors I have known so far, and helped to frame their work in a larger context of shared values. As we learn more about donors focused on gender equality, we can better understand this dynamic and expanding field of philanthropy.
Looks like there is some fun to be had in Boston on February 15th, as the Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC) holds its first fundraiser of 2018. The event will feature political humorist Kate Clinton, as well as Attorney General Maura Healy.
“This is a critical year for LGBTQ people, women, people of color and all progressives, and we hope the Boston community joins us to learn how we can support progressive candidates and advance positive policy outcomes,” said Diane Felicio, a Boston-based member of LPAC’s National Board, in a press release announcing the fundraiser.
Given the political climate since Trump’s election for LGBTQ folks, it’s no surprise that organizers and fundraisers are getting out front to support pro-LGBTQ, pro-women’s equality candidates.
The event has a long list of hosts, and comes on the heels of LPAC announcing its first candidate endorsements for 2018. LPAC endorsed Dana Nessel in Michigan, Angie Craig in Minnesota, Kate Brown for Governor of Oregon, and Joy Silver for California State Senate. LPAC will be making further endorsements as the political season unfolds.
Event hosts include: Naomi Aberly, Susan Bernstein, Steven Cadwell & Joe Levine, Elyse Cherry, Julian Cyr, Diane Felicio, David Goldman, Julie Goodridge, Catherine Guthrie & Mary Gray, Caitlin Healey, Tom Huth, Lynn Kappelman & Kate Perrelli, Ruth Lewis, Neal Minahan, Bette Warner & Patty Larkin, Shari Weiner, Julie Smith & Polly Franchot, and Urvashi Vaid & Kate Clinton.
The event will be held on Thursday, February 15th from 5:30-7:30 pm in Boston’s South End. If you would like to attend you must RSVP prior, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for media credentialing or teamlpac.com/boston-party to donate.
An article in the November 2017 issue of Geographical, a print publication out of the UK, does an exceptional job of summarizing the current research on gender equality globally. Geographical came to my attention after having the opportunity to talk with staff at Oxfam Great Britain (Oxfam GB), in order to learn more about the way Oxfam has approached integrating gender and development for the past two and a half decades.
The article points to research showing that making gains in gender equality could add as much as $12 trillion to the economy, but also quotes some experts who are dubious about using economic arguments for achieving political gains for women. Dr. Torrun Wimpelmann says that it’s unproductive to argue with social conservatives using this economic data. Another expert, Dr. Jeni Klugman, author of a high level UN report called Leave No-One Behind, says there is room for the economic argument, since it comes at the issue pragmatically.
Nikki van der Gaag, Director of Women’s Rights and Gender Justice at Oxfam GB, is interviewed extensively in the article, and talks about ways that gender can be addressed better by both the business and development worlds. “It’s striking how much the business sector is making the arguments around the case for gender equality and diversity.” But the key point for van der Gaag is that the corporate structures still need to change — supply chains need to be more gender equal, and advocating for women can’t be a sidebar of the company, but needs to be part of the core business plan.
That is where the real challenge comes in, particularly in a world where some data suggests that serious backsliding is occurring for women. “The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Gender Gap Report concluded that gender equality has now settled back to 2008 levels,” says the article. So in 2016, according to the Gender Gap Report, we were back to 2008 in terms of gender equality gains. Essentially, we’ve already lost a decade. How much further will Trump and other social conservatives take us back in time?
A new volume for feminism history buffs has arrived on the shelves — and it’s a biggee. And while based in history, the book reflects the current zeitgeist of the women’s movement, which is continuing to grow and become more intersectional. Roxane Gay, who gives the forward to the book, credits Kimberlé Crenshaw (one of our top posts is an interview with Crenshaw exploring her work to fund women and girls of color) with helping keep feminism “alive and well” and advance the movement in recognizing the complexity of identity in modern culture.
The book starts out at The Oxford Conference, where author D-M Withers, a museum curator and respected proponent of women’s cultural history, makes the argument that this was one of the notable beginning points to modern feminist organizing. The conference was meant to be on women’s history, but discussions at the conference ranged into home and family, capitalism, and psychology. Toward the end of the conference, Selma James, an activist since the 50’s, talked about feminism within the context of the anti-imperialist struggle, and recognized that “women [were] just a sector within that.” Hence, some of the roots of intersectionalism can be traced back to the Oxford Conference. As a point of interest, men ran the childcare at the Oxford conference to enable women to participate more fully — an excellent way for them to serve as allies to the early movement.
The book discusses in detail pivotal historical events like the Vietnam War, and provides tons of pictures from the early era — giving the reader a visceral sense of the way early feminists used media to present their ideas to the public. For a feminist like me whose mother subscribed to Ms. and who remembers seeing the Battered Wives edition of Ms. with the woman’s bruised face, the book is also an interesting walk down memory lane, helping me to recall how that image broke through the silence about violence against women.
The Feminist Revolution comes right up to modern times, with pictures from the 2017 women’s march ending the book. “In an era of rising right-wing nationalism, militarism, capitalist intensification, and border violence, the resources provided by feminist activism and thought are invaluable and more necessary than ever,” says the final chapter, Liberation Without Limitation.
Now that the Women’s Marches are bringing the struggle for gender equality back to the streets, The Feminist Revolution is making a timely debut. With more than 200 color illustrations as well as essays and oral histories, the book is a creative and diverse new resource for the feminist community.
Some interesting pieces have been written about this year’s global Women’s Marches, but none beats the Washington Post story by Helaine Olen, which posits that the media has largely ignored this major political event, despite its indication of massive social upheaval happening right under our noses.
While estimates of the size of Los Angeles’s march ranged from 500,000 to 600,000, and Las Vegas hosted the launch of a national voter registration campaign called #Powertothepolls, the political talk shows on Sunday morning barely made mention of the uprising in the streets.
Matt McDermott, Director of Whitman Insight Strategies, calls the Women’s March and other activities of the Resistance, “the most underestimated, unappreciated, and underreported political movement in modern American history.”
I tend to agree with McDermott. The Resistance will definitely not be televised, tweeted, or shared on Facebook nearly to the degree that reflects its value and power. And maybe it’s better that way. We will see the reality of the Resistance’s influence in the upcoming elections, and until then, perhaps it is better for the movement to be underestimated. Stay tuned here at Philanthropy Women where Allison Fine will soon be providing a closer look at some of the action happening in progressive philanthropy to bring #Powertothepolls.
Here in Providence, where I attended the Women’s March on the State House lawn, attendance seemed about the same as last year, maybe a little smaller. The speakers and presentations were much better organized this year, and the message was crystal clear: progressive America is forming new alliances, and the elections will be the place to look for results.
We saw that impact in the November 2017 elections, in which a surge of female support led to huge Democratic gains in Virginia. We also saw it in Alabama, where it was African American woman who helped Democrat Doug Jones win election to the Senate instead of Republican Roy Moore.
There is no question that all this energy matters and will almost certainly continue to matter. A Post/ABC News poll released Monday morning found that the Democrats have a “large early advantage” in this year’s congressional elections, thanks in part to “strong support from women,” with “a 57 percent to 31 percent advantage among female voters.”
In the meantime, it looks as though a deal was reached to end the government shutdown, the dispute that has received so much media attention over the past few days. As for the female-led resistance to Trump, it continues.
“I remember standing up at a conference 16 or 17 years ago and saying that my dream is that there will be a women’s giving circle in every city in America,” says Sondra Shaw Hardy. “I feel that my goal now is to take giving circles worldwide.” To that end, Shaw Hardy is starting a new organization called Women’s Giving Circles International, which will make expanding the giving circle model globally its primary goal.
Shaw Hardy has been called the “mother of giving circles,” and she will talk about the concept at the North American Community Foundations summit in Mexico City in early February. Shaw Hardy’s panel talk, “Meaningfully Engaging a New Realm of Donors for Local Action,” dovetails perfectly with the summit’s focus on locally generated, sustainable, equitable development.
This is not Shaw Hardy’s first professional visit to Mexico; in September 2017 she and long-time colleague Martha Taylor were invited to Monterrey to discuss female-centered charitable giving. While many of the women Shaw Hardy spoke to had considerable means, few had previously considered the concept of philanthropy by women, for women. They quickly embraced the idea, forming the Damos Juntas Giving Circle, and are taking “Círculos de Ayuda” beyond Monterrey (the country’s third largest metro area) to Mexico as a whole.
Shaw Hardy’s experience in Mexico confirms her previous impression that pooled direct-giving by donors is a compelling concept the world over. In June 2017, Shaw Hardy was invited by the German ambassador to the UK to speak at Germany’s embassy in London. The topic was women and politics in the United States, but Shaw Hardy also mentioned women and philanthropy, and found that her remarks on giving circles galvanized a cosmopolitan audience mostly composed of diplomats’ wives.
Shaw Hardy has been working in the women’s philanthropy field for 30 years, with a focus on giving circles for the last two decades. Her interest in giving circles was sparked when she picked up a People magazine (on a plane, she is quick to point out) and chanced on an article about Colleen Willoughby, the Seattle philanthropist. Willoughby was a founder of the Washington Women’s Foundation, and a pioneer in the field of “collective giving grantmaking,” a close cousin to giving circles. Willoughby had started a circle with two other women, and Shaw Hardy realized the power of women working together to fund change in their community.
Originally from Flint, Michigan, Shaw Hardy has lived in Traverse City—three hours northwest of Lansing on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay—for decades. When we spoke by phone, she was in South Carolina, unsuccessfully trying to fend off the cold as the South had been recently blanketed by snow and ice. She lives most of the year in Traverse City with her husband, and has three children and eight grandchildren.
In the late 90s, Shaw Hardy was president of the Women’s Resource Center in Traverse City, and organized a giving circle, which grew to 65 members in four years. That circle’s goals were aligned with those of the Resource Center, and Shaw Hardy notes that giving circles typically fund applicants that focus on life’s essentials, including alleviating poverty, increasing women’s economic capabilities, and providing greater access to healthcare. “There is hardly any women’s giving circle that doesn’t have something to do with human services,” she says.
Shaw Hardy notes that she has helped set up over 30 circles, and while groups across the country are diverse, there are certain commonalities and guideposts in their founding: Circles need to be composed of people who enjoy each other’s company, members should have similar interests and goals, and five to seven people is a good number for launching a circle. Finally, members need to participate in the grant-making process so that all are active decision-makers. Established giving circles typically average 150 members, and some have as many as several hundred.
The movement was formalized and given a boost in 2001 when Wendy Steele established Impact 100 in Cincinnati. The model of a pass-through foundation that relies on its members to make grants to local organizations in culture, education, environment, family and health soon spread to other cities throughout the country. According to Impact 100, its affiliated organizations had given away more than $45 million by the close of 2016.
The advantage of giving circles is that they leverage modest individual donations into a critical mass. “By pooling their monies,” says Shaw Hardy, “women are seeing the impact they can have versus giving small amounts.” Shaw Hardy suggests that this collective giving is literally empowering women, giving them an input and influence far greater than if members had donated the same amount as individuals.
Circles are also essential in putting women into decision-making positions. “Giving circles have emboldened women to become members of nonprofit boards,” says Shaw Hardy. Previously, women were often reluctant to serve on boards, says Shaw Hardy, but now they have greater knowledge and confidence. The result is more women heading organizations, and women becoming increasingly comfortable leading campaigns to raise money for causes important to them.
This larger grant-making influence has an important consequence: “Women have become more political as a result of their involvement,” says Shaw Hardy. “In addition to belonging to a giving circle and contributing money, they are also giving money to political candidates who favor their issues, and even running for office themselves.” Shaw Hardy says that along with promoting self-esteem in girls and increasing opportunities for low-income women and girls, “getting more women to run for office” is a personal priority for her. She has her own experience to draw on, and says, “I didn’t know I was a feminist until I found myself serving on a County Board of Commissioners with 14 men.”
Shaw Hardy says the significant growth in women’s philanthropy is partly due to women’s more prominent role in the work place. “Women have careers, they have more than just jobs. They earn more money than before.” Shaw Hardy believes that by increasing their giving and being involved in grant-making, women have achieved greater financial agency and power.
“Women are now talking about money, a subject that was once considered inappropriate for them to discuss,” says Shaw Hardy. “And that, combined with control of their money, whether earned, inherited or married, has resulted in women’s participation on organization finance committees.” The result, she says, is that women no longer fear balance sheets or financial plans, and their greater financial acumen has “changed the face of philanthropy, and the way couples give.”
Shaw Hardy has been on the ground floor of many organizations, and says she is happy to get something going, and then move on. Most recently, Shaw Hardy helped launch Woman2Woman TC (the TC is for Traverse City). It formed in 2016 in support of Hillary Clinton—and drew a crowd of 400 at its first meeting—and has since continued to support progressive female candidates, including Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. The group, which counts over 2,500 members on Facebook, also encourages local women to run for office.
Shaw Hardy’s position as the doyenne of giving circles, and supporter of progressive female-centered causes, has an unusual origin: initially, she started out at as a Republican Party fundraiser. She obtained the position after graduating from Michigan State University in Lansing. Shaw Hardy subsequently earned a law degree, and then went to D.C. to become a Republican lobbyist, a position at which she says she did not distinguish herself. Part of the problem was motivation. “Let’s just say that I did not share the philosophy of the Reagan administration on abortion rights, or on U.S. involvement in Latin America.”
Shaw Hardy broke with the GOP and moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where she started fundraising for non-profits and working with Martha Taylor of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. In 1991, Taylor and Shaw Hardy founded the forerunner to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, which became part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University (IU) in 2004. Shaw Hardy has served as an adjunct professor in philanthropy at IU, and in the 1990s was head of development at her alma mater, Western Michigan University. Regardless of her position, she has maintained a focus on women donors, and has written six books on the topic, many of them collaborations with Taylor, including the 2010 volume Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World.
Now Shaw Hardy is embarking on another journey in shaping a better world by launching Women’s Giving Circles International. The organization’s website is under construction, and plans are afoot to make more ripple effects in the giving circle movement, this time worldwide.
One of our goals at Philanthropy Women is to explore different ways to invest in reducing the gender gap and building a better economy — ways that operate in both philanthropy and in regular business markets. Alongside gender lens grantmaking, progressive women donors also have another important way they can deploy their capital for gender justice: gender lens investing.
One new investment instrument that recently came to our attention is BRAVA Investments, headed by CEO Nathalie Molina Niño, with partners Trevor Neilson and J. Todd Morley. BRAVA is not primarily focused on supporting women owned start-ups or getting more women into the c-suite of corporations (though this is something they look at), but on investing in industries that economically benefit employees or consumers that are disproportionately women.
“I don’t think investing in women will become mainstream and be taken seriously until we prove that it is lucrative,” said Molina Niño, in a recent phone interview with Philanthropy Women.
Founded in August of 2016, BRAVA brings together Molina Niño’s expertise in large-scale business development and operational growth, with a value-based approach to investing that contrasts sharply with what many other gender lens investors are doing today.
Where did Molina Niño get the idea for her unique approach? To introduce her reasons for developing BRAVA’s approach, she referenced a recent study by Project Sage, which rounded up 58 gender lens investing instruments for a detailed analysis. Molina Niño said she did similar research in preparing for the launch of BRAVA.
“I did a mini-version of Project Sage a couple of years ago,” said Molina Niño. “What I saw was that a lot of my friends and colleagues were starting funds for women and they were struggling to raise cash, so they were these little micro funds worth like $2 million to $15 or $20 million tops. And they were all focused on early stage, very early stage, and higher risk. And they were doing it in the traditional venture capital way, where you invest in 100 companies and you hope that 10 of them will at least provide some return and one or two will really take off.” But Molina Niño didn’t want to take that approach.
“I wanted to do later stage investing, and I noticed nobody in the gender space was doing that,” she said. She liked later stage investing because it meant lower risk, and she also liked being more attractive to large scale institutional investors.
“For me it has always been about scale.,” said Molina Niño. “Even if you’re doing amazing work, but you’re doing it with $10 million a year, that’s pretty small potatoes. It’s never going be part of a big endowment or a big pension fund, it’s never going to be something that moves the needle in a big way. So for me, scale was important, as well as investing in companies that I think we can grow, and not expecting 90% of my companies to go bust.”
Another thing Molina Niño noticed, when she looked around at colleagues in gender lens investing, was that nearly all of the gender lens investing instruments created over the past 10 years are dominated by white women. “Even though I know many of the people who started these funds, and so I believe it’s in no way intentional, but it’s as though somebody wrote a memo and said, ‘Okay people, we’re only investing in white women.'”
So that was another challenge for Molina Niño. “Women of color get .1 % of venture capital,” she said. “You don’t hear many people talking about that.”
Molina Niño wanted to change that, but she also saw some problems in taking an approach of primarily funding women-led start-ups, since that also had limitations in terms of impact. “At BRAVA what we do is, we consider investing in women not to mean necessarily investing only in women entrepreneurs,” she said.
By way of example of the kind of business BRAVA is tracking, Molina Niño described a company called Honor in San Francisco that is a platform for matching people with elder care professionals. “They do a great job of building trust, because the site helps you find people who are vetted, and they have a great reputation for that. Part of how they got that reputation is by attracting and retaining their talent. ”
The way they do that, said Molina Niño, is by paying their workers $20 an hour, in a industry where workers generally receive no more than $12 an hour. “That’s huge. That’s life changing, the difference between $12 and $20 an hour.” Molina Niño also sees the writing on the wall for the need for elder care services in the US. “You have 10,000 people who are turning 60 every day in this country. This is a massive growth play.”
For Molina Niño, the litmus test for deploying capital is that the investment be measurably improving the economic lives of women, at scale, as part of their core business model. “It makes zero difference to me whether the founders are women. It makes zero difference if the board is made up of women. I would love for that to be the case, and maybe after I invest in them, I can influence that to be the case. But it doesn’t make all the difference to me, because they clearly have a model that takes large numbers of women and substantively changes their lives.”
BRAVA Investments hones in on opportunities for making the most impact in gender equality by investing in mid-level growth companies in health care, education, and consumer products, that are economically benefiting women. “If I think about how am I going to make the most impact, by making one woman entrepreneur successful, or by focusing on a company like Honor that is going to help thousands of women rise out of poverty, I’m always going to choose that latter model,” said Molina Niño.
BRAVA’s investment’s focus is on high growth business models that economically benefit women. “I don’t believe that making the one woman a billionaire is going to translate into thousands of women being better off,” said BRAVA’s co-founder and CEO, Nathalie Molina Niño.”I think if you believe that, you’re basically talking trickle down economics. And I don’t believe it.”
The good news about BRAVA’s approach is that it attracts serious investors with deep pockets, who hear that BRAVA is working at a larger scale and also using a strategy economically benefiting large populations of women. “We’re focusing on domains where women are the majority — either they have a majority of women in their workforce, or a majority of women in their consumer base.”
BRAVA is taking a much different lens than other gender lens investing instruments, capturing the value of investing in economic sectors that influence women’s lives instead of in corporate structures that value women’s leadership.
“I worry that gender lens investing has been too focused on women in the corner office,” said Molina Niño. “So if you look at Sheryl Sandberg and her book, she is focused on the fact that there’s a lack of women in the C-Suite. I step back and think, what percentage of the total women in the world are going to be worried about getting into the C-Suite?”
It’s not that Molina Niño does not want to see more women in leadership across all sectors, but there are different ways to create prosperity for women. “As a woman entrepreneur, I’m personally very impacted by issues around women’s leadership in business, and I co-founded a center for women entrepreneurs at Barnard College at Columbia University, so nobody can say I don’t care about women entrepreneurs, but I have a hard time making the entire story be about that tiny sliver of the population. What about the other 99% of women who will never start a business and who will never make it to the c-suite? They deserve to be invested in, too.” And she believes the evidence shows this broader lens also makes for better investment returns.
A final key point for Molina Niño is the essential role of strong alliances with men in the financial sector and beyond. “Men need to be a big part of this equation,” said Molina Niño. So while the end game is about benefiting women, Molina Niño sees plenty of room for men to be involved, especially when it comes to raising capital. “It’s silly to exclude the people who have all the power, influence, and capital, and so my business partners and co-founders are men. I did that on purpose.”
And it’s not just one day. It’s the entire weekend.
And it’s not just about marching. It’s about participating in democracy.
The Women’s March for 2018 is about what it means to be part of a society that values equality and freedom, and it’s about getting more people to the polls to elect the defenders of those values.
After the overwhelming success of last years’s Women’s March, the creators of the event developed a nonprofit organization called Women’s March Alliance in order to facilitate movement activity. This year, over 200 events for the Women’s March will happen on both the 20th and the 21st. On the 20th, New York City will start its rally at 11 AM at 72nd street, marching past Columbus Circle by 12:30. In Washington, DC on the 20th, the march will start at the Reflecting Pool and go to the White House, with speakers to present on the steps of Lincoln Memorial.
On the 21st, Nevada will have its Power to the Polls Launch starting at 10 am. Also on the 21st, Athens, Greece will start its rally in Syntagma Square end in front of the Embassy of the United States in Athens.
All around the country and world, for two days, people will rally peacefully for the cause of gender equality and justice. And who are the sponsors of these events? The Exclusive Premier sponsor is Planned Parenthood of America. The Presenting Platinum sponsor is NRDC, the National Resource Defense Council. Social Justice sponsors are Emily’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Movement friends include the ACLU, the AFT, Human Rights Campaign, Movement is Loud, 1199SEIU, and Moveon.org. The sponsors and partners page for the Women’s March website also has an extensive list of partner organizations, including many longtime organizations in the women’s space like the National Organization for Women (NOW), Women Thrive Alliance, Women for Women International, and dozens of others. Other larger partners include Amnesty International, YWCA America, and the National Association of Social Workers (my professional association!). A huge number of artists have also signed on for the Women’s March.
These events are not just for the rights and equality of women, but the rights and equality of all human beings. The Women’s March is a valuable opportunity for the resistance to show its diversity — shining a light on race and gender equality as well as on reproductive, LGBTQIA, worker’s, civil, disability, immigrant, and environmental rights.
This is our first year here at Philanthropy Women, and these our inaugural awards. They go to recipients who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of gender equality philanthropy. These awards draw on the database of Philanthropy Women’s coverage, and are therefore inherently bias toward the people and movement activity we have written about so far. As our database grows each year, we will cover more ground, and have a wider field to cull from for the awards.
Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership
The need for coordinating funding efforts is stronger than ever, and certain leaders are doing much of the legwork to bring together different constituencies under the same tent. Donna Hall is one of those leaders. With her collaborations with others to create Emergent Fund, which was later joined by Democracy Alliance, Donna Hall has been networker extraordinaire for the purpose of bringing together donors who share a cause and purpose. For these reasons, we award her the Philanthropy Women Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership.
General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership
The Star Wars reference helps to conceptualize the longstanding nature of Helen LaKelly Hunt’s thought and strategy leadership in feminist philanthropy. Like high-ranking General Organa of the Resistance, Hunt has weathered decades of storms for gender equality philanthropy and has emerged time and again with more strength and courage. Her multifaceted powers are an inspiration to many not only in philanthropy but also in history and social science, as Hunt has made a strong case for revising feminist history in her book, And the Spirit Moved Them. She has also helped create many of the women’s foundations that are the heart of grassroots feminism today. Along with all this, Hunt, in collaboration husband Harville Hendrix, has developed an amazing model for therapy called Relationships First (I know because I use Relationships First skills in my own work as a therapist and experience the way feelings change from anger to curiosity with the model.) For these reasons, we award Helen LaKelly Hunt the Philanthropy Women General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership.
One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy
Emily Bove is at the helm of Women Thrive Alliance, and does amazing work to bring the agenda of global gender equality into public view. This past year, Bove showed us the way SDG’s need to be the focus in order to coordinate efforts in the fight for gender equality. Bove continues to be a frontline advocate in political spheres for more attention to women and girls. For these reasons, we award Emily Bove the Philanthropy Women One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy.
Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy
Gloria Feldt, who tirelessly pushes the envelope for women’s leadership, also spearheaded a most excellent alliance this past year with Lyft, the up-and-coming taxi company giving Uber a run for its money. Feldt and her team at Take the Lead made Take the Lead Day, November 14, a Lyft discount day, and also got the rideshare service collaborating with local domestic violence shelters in Arizona to provide rides for survivors. Take the Lead Day had strong participation across the globe, with 217 cites and 26 countries around the world taking action for women’s leadership parity. Getting Lyft and others to sign on as sponsors was a great way to help corporations pay attention to gender equality. For these reasons, we award Gloria Feldt the Philanthropy Women Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy.
Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds
Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat started last year strong as her foundation led 100 Days of Action for Women and Girls. She finished up even stronger, launching Together We Lead, a women’s leadership initiative that brought in several corporate founding sponsors including Capital One, Deloitte, Nestle, Edelman, and Audi. Lockwood-Shabat is well-known in women’s philanthropy circles for developing and sustaining one of the strongest and most effective women’s funds in the country, with a particular focus on young women and girls of color. For these reasons, we award Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat the Philanthropy Women Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds.
She Persisted Award for Feminist Foundation Leadership
Every time a new political calamity would occur this past year, I would wonder who would be out front with a strong statement and response from the feminist community. Time and again, the early and often responder was Teresa C. Younger and the Ms. Foundation for Women. Younger also had a hand in writing A Blueprint for Women’s Funds: On Using Finance as a Tool for Social Changewhich helps to identify a path for restructuring finance with further integration of capital with the agenda of gender equality. For these reasons, we award Teresa C. Younger the Philanthropy Women ‘She Persisted’ Award for Feminist Foundation leadership.
Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality
Jessica Chastain narrated an important film that we covered this past year, I am Jane Doe, directed by Mary Mazzio, which has helped address sex trafficking of children in America, and expose how corporate and nonprofit interests cloak themselves in “freedom of speech” language as they fund the protectors of this lucrative life-destroying business. Chastain has since proven herself to be a powerful member of the coalition of Hollywood women coming forward for #Timesup, the follow-up to #Metoo, which demands accountability in the film industry for sexual harassment and abuse. For these reasons, we award Jessica Chastain the Philanthropy Women Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality.
Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership as an Organization
Starting and sustaining a new feminist organization in today’s regressive political climate is extra challenging, but good ideas and women just can’t be kept down. That’s what we see when we look at FRIDA, a new global feminist organization focused on social change. FRIDA is leading the way in grantmaking at the grassroots for media and attention to gender equality in places like Poland, Egypt, and Colombia. For these reasons, we award FRIDA the Philanthropy Women Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership in Women’s Philanthropy.
Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality
CREDO gives a large percentage of its corporate philanthropy dollars to gender equality, and Ray Morris, as CEO of CREDO, appears to be continuing the company’s 30-year commitment to gender equality funding. In fact, gender equality accounts for about 11.7% of CREDO’s funding for progressive causes. Imagine if every corporation gave 11.7% of their philanthropy dollars to gender equality. We would be able to accelerate the progress of gender equality movements and reach critical mass sooner. For these reasons, we award CREDO Mobile the Philanthropy Women Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality award.
League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy
No awards list for gender equality philanthropy would be complete without acknowledging the significant role of the NoVo Foundation, which has devoted substantial funds to address the rights and freedoms of young women and girls of color. One of the larger grants that NoVo recently made was to the Young Women’s Freedom Center in California, to fight for girls involved in the juvenile justice system, who are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized young women in our communities. Co-founded by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, NoVo Foundation provides an excellent model for how couples can partner for gender equality philanthropy. For these reasons, we award NoVo Foundation the Philanthropy Women League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy.