Happy Women’s History Month. There are only a few days left to this month of focusing on the value of gender equality and the arc of its progression throughout time. I spent a lot of time this month researching and thinking about how women’s funds feed social change. Most of what I learned reinforced the theory that women’s funds represent a unique approach to philanthropy that the rest of the sector would do well to replicate.
My last piece for Women’s history month on this topic is published at Daily Kos, a site dedicated to the larger sphere of progressive political change.
As Philanthropy Opens Up, Women’s Funds Show the Way
Something unusual happened recently in philanthropy: Bill and Melinda Gates opened their annual letter by answering 10 “tough” questions from the public about their philanthropy. The Gates’ Q&A is just one example of philanthropists becoming more responsive to the public. Funders are growing more aware of the value of engaging with the communities they seek to serve. The Fund for Shared Insight (FSI) which is dedicated to bringing more openness to philanthropy, is cultivating this trend; it added five new foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this past year: Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, James Irvine Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Omidyar Network, bringing the number of funding partners in the collaborative to 39.
Tomorrow brings us another cool event for women’s history month. From 3 pm to 4 pm EST tomorrow, Prosperity Together will hold a Twitter chat to celebrate the collective impact of their funding.
Prosperity Together is the coalition of 32 women’s funds across 26 states and Washington D.C., which has invested $58 million since 2016 for grassroots organizations growing gender equality and economic security for women.
Philanthropy Women will be there tomorrow, to hear about how these women’s funds are pushing for social change, particularly by using participatory grantmaking strategies and paying extra attention to diversity and inclusion. Women’s funds are also doing some of the most groundbreaking work with supporting youth-led grantmaking and youth-led social movements, so it will be great to hear more about that, too, since we are living in the midst of the largest child-led social movement in America, the movement for gun safety.
Thanks to Daniel Heimpel and The Chronicle of Social Change for publishing my op-ed on the student-led gun safety movement happening all around us today in the world. I am immensely proud of all the young people who are showing us the way today.
From the op-ed:
Ahead of the Curve: Women’s Funds and Youth-Led Social Movements
Are we finally listening to the children? An estimated 185,000 youth walked out of school and onto the streets on March 14 to protest the lack of adequate gun control in America. Thousands more will descend on Washington, D.C., today to raise their voices and most importantly lay out a responsible path forward. Youth-led social movements are demonstrating that they are the force to be reckoned with.
I’m glad to be collaborating with David Callahan and publishing occasionally on Inside Philanthropy again. Here is my latest piece, featuring longtime philanthropy professional Kathy LeMay talking about her new masterclass for social change fundraising.
The topics of listening and participatory grantmaking are trending heavily in philanthropy right now, and for good reason. We are living in a time when the lack of listening and responsiveness from government and other social institutions is finally getting people’s attention. LeMay’s masterclass sounds like an opportunity worth exploring if you are particularly interested in engaging donors deeply in their mission and strengthening your skills as a change agent and fundraiser.
Check out the Op-Ed piece I wrote recently for Inside Philanthropy, which explores the ways that the #Metoo movement — the mass uprising of sexual abuse and assault survivors seeking justice — is driving a shift in power and gender dynamics in our culture never before seen. With news of sexual abuse occurring for decades in children’s sports like gymnastics and swimming, and agencies like Oxfam facing major repercussions from reports of sexual misconduct of development staff, #MeToo is helping to open up essential litigation and public discussion on sexual behaviors and norms.
From the Op-Ed:
The #MeToo movement is challenging power structures that long enforced the silence of women who endured sexual harassment, abuse and assault. But while the start of this movement is often traced to revelations last October about Harvey Weinstein, it’s important to recognize that there’s a much deeper backstory, here—one in which philanthropy has played an important role.
If you follow the news on philanthropy, you have probably heard about Oxfam’s troubles. One of the oldest and largest global relief and development organizations, Oxfam is now facing heavy scrutiny due to sexual misconduct by some of its staff in Haiti in 2011. The Haitian government has suspended some of Oxfam’s operations in its country for two months while it investigates how the nonprofit handled the allegations of sexual misconduct during their humanitarian response in 2011. An estimated 7,000 individual supporters have since abandoned the organization since the allegations were reported in February this year, although the nonprofit asserts that their corporate partners have not withdrawn support. (A helpful timeline of events about the Oxfam crisis is available at Third Sector.)
One of my favorite programs, Funny Girls, is going to be getting some major attention this evening, as NBC Nightly featured the program, along with Harnisch Foundation Executive Director Jenny Raymond and program officer Carla Blumenthal.
One reasons I enjoy talking about Funny Girls is because of my own experience, watching my daughters participate Improv programs locally at The Artists’ Exchange in Cranston. I am a strong believer in the power of Improv to help people explore identity and develop key aspects of relationship-building. I also think there is great potential for using Improv to help all people, not just women and girls, enhance their social and emotional lives. Want to know more about Funny Girls? Check out this page.
Yesterday, International Women’s Day, was packed with events acknowledging the value of women in the world and calling for more women’s leadership across all sectors. It was also a great day to celebrate the role that gender equality movements are increasingly playing in social change that advances peace and justice for humanity. Here are just 5 of the philanthropy-related happenings that made #IWD2018 a significant day of partying for women’s equality:
It’s hard for me to keep up with all the news these days on feminist philanthropy, which is a good thing. That means there are more stories every day (and especially during women’s history month) that are reaching people’s inboxes and getting the world thinking about turning further in the direction of a feminist vision of peace and justice. The constancy of this news is why I publish a daily aggregate of news called Giving For Good, which I encourage you to subscribe to if you are a feminist philanthropy news junkie like me.
Sometimes the news is so big that it deserves extra attention, which is one of the reasons I created Philanthropy Women: to highlight the feminist philanthropy news that is truly game-changing and groundbreaking. Here are a few extra important stories that I wanted to pick out and share:
Despite an increasingly hostile climate for women and girls in the United States, with access to reproductive services being cut and campus sexual assault policies being rolled back, a partnership of women’s funds that started during the Obama administration is continuing to grow and deploy needed funds to grassroots organizations.