18 Orgs Receive $20 Million in #MeToo Funding From CBS

Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation (Image Credit: Donna F. Aceto) The New York Women’s Foundation received $2.25 million from CBS.

CBS corporation announced today that 18 organizations will receive $20 million in funding to address sexual harassment in the workplace.  Many of these organizations are longtime players in the women’s rights space, including New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Media Center, and the National Women’s Law Center, while others are brand new to the field, like TIME’S UP. These grants are part of CBS’s separation agreement with former CEO Les Moonves, which stated that the donations would be deducted from his severance pay.

“These organizations represent different critical approaches to combatting sexual harassment, including efforts to change culture and improve gender equity in the workplace, train and educate employees, and provide victims with services and support,” said a press release from CBS announcing the grantees, and tying the grants to their “ongoing commitment to strengthening its own workplace culture.”

CBS worked with expert advisory firm RALLY, to develop criteria for making these grants, which were given to organizations targeting three goals:  increasing women in positions of power, educating and changing culture, and supporting survivors of gender-based violence.

While this is definitely good news for feminist philanthropy, some would argue that $20 million from CBS should be just the start, and that many corporations in the U.S. have much more work to do in order to address  sexual harassment. For starters, other big media corporations who have had similar issues should follow suit, including Fox News (Sean Hannity and Roger Ailes), NBC (Matt Lauer and Tom Brokaw), PBS (Garrison Keillor), ESPN (Donovan McNabb) and the NFL Network (Heath Evans and Marshall Faulk). There is still a great deal of compensation due to community-based #MeToo movements that are working to address gender inequality and create a healthier and safer culture for all.

Related: New #MeToo Funding Fuels Empathy and Justice for Survivors

The organizations are:

  • Catalyst
  • Collaborative Fund for Women’s Safety and Dignity (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) – re-granting
  • Free the Bid
  • Freedom Forum Institute – Power Shift Project
  • Futures Without Violence
  • Girls for Gender Equity / ‘me too.’ Movement
  • International Women’s Media Foundation
  • National Women’s Law Center
  • New York Women’s Foundation – re-granting
  • Press Forward
  • Producers Guild of America Foundation
  • RAINN
  • STRIVE International
  • Sundance Institute’s Momentum program
  • TIME’S UP Entertainment
  • TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund
  • Women in Film Los Angeles
  • Women’s Media Center

New York Women’s Foundation Receives $2.25 Million Grant from CBS to support the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies

As part of the grantmaking from CBS, The New York Women’s Foundation  received $2.25 million in funding to support The Foundation’s Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies (The Fund). The Fund will take a systemic approach to addressing the problem of gender-based violence by beginning a new partnership with women’s funds in the community.

The partnership’s initial membership includes the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Women’s Foundation of California, Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts and Women’s Funding Network. “Other public women’s foundations are welcome to join the partnership,” according to a press release announcing the grant.

The #MeToo Fund is led by Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, and Tarana Burke, Founder and Leader of the ‘me too.’ Movement.  Based in New York, the #MeToo Fund recently made its first set of eight grants to support organizations around the country working to address gender-based violence and support healing.

Organizations interested in applying for grants from the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies should email metoofund@nywf.org.

Related:

NY Women’s Foundation Launches #MeToo Fund with $1 Million Start

New York Women’s Foundation Announces Additional $4 Million in Grants for 2017

NYWF Receives $300 K for Artistic and Gender-Based Justice Reforms

Women’s Funds Deploy $58.4 Million in Funding in Two Years

NY Women’s Foundation Centers on Gender with New Justice Fund

Year-End Thoughts and My Interview for Women’s Fund of Rhode Island

Happy Holidays from Philanthropy Women Editor and Publisher Kiersten Marek

One of the main reasons I started Philanthropy Women was to shine a spotlight on women givers, because I noticed that knowing more about them made me feel better about the world. Rather than logging on to Twitter and reading the toxic political discourse, I decided to fill up my Twitter feed with women’s funds and other feminist philanthropy thought leaders. The result was astonishing — I was suddenly getting new information about so many issues related to women — their health, their money, their professional lives. The process of turning my attention to progressive feminist philanthropy also turned me into a feminist donor, as I realized how well women’s giving to gender equality aligned with my own social justice interests.

As a specialty publisher in the feminist philanthropy field, Philanthropy Women strives to contribute significantly to the pool of stories about gender equality givers, with the guiding belief that publishing these stories helps other people activate their own change process and do more to address gender inequality in their own lives and in the world around them. 

The stories we cover on Philanthropy Women are enjoying more attention all the time, and are also subsequently getting attention on larger platforms, both within philanthropy and in the mainstream media. In addition, more of our content is now making it into the real time news on Google, Bing, and other large search engines. This means we are doing exactly what the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s research says we need to do if we want to create more gender equality givers — creating more information about how individuals and groups are giving to this area of philanthropy. By your joining us in watching and learning about feminist philanthropy, you are aiding in the process of creating more  donors for the sector.

I’ll be taking a break here for a few weeks, to more fully be present for the holidays with loved ones, but before I go I’d like to share the interview I recently did with the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, since I think it does a good job of distilling my beliefs about feminist philanthropy and why it is so important in the world today.

Peace and joy to you and yours as we head into the New Year!

My Interview with Women’s Fund of Rhode Island

How did you come to know about the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island? 

WFRI first came onto my radar when I saw the work you do with educating legislatures about issues important to women. I followed WFRI’s leadership on this from the fund’s founding Executive Director, Marcia Coné, to later Jenn Steinfeld, and now on to Kelly Nevins. It is inspiring to see how WFRI researches and articulates such critical information that helps guide public policy.

What is the background of Philanthropy Women and what is your mission?

I started Philanthropy Women after two and half years of writing for Inside Philanthropy with David Callahan, who introduced me to the world of feminist philanthropy. I soon realized that I was overflowing with story ideas about feminist philanthropy and decided to develop my own platform to ensure the news and information I was publishing was making it into public discourse. Our mission at Philanthropy Women is to shine a spotlight on strategies for creating a more gender equal world, as well as the history of women’s giving for gender equality, so that more people know about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

At Philanthropy Women, we believe that feminist philanthropy has the capacity to change the game for so many facets of living — for the economy, for politics, for relationships, for corporations, for nonprofits, for animals, for the environment. It is a philosophy and a strategy that we believe could help humans live more peacefully on earth, as it influences all systems to be more inclusive and relational.

How do you see the work you do with Philanthropy Women intersecting with the work of WFRI?

On the most practical level, we are quite related — sort of like cousins in the feminist philanthropy ecosystem. The Women’s Funding Network, of which WFRI is a member, is the fiscal sponsor for Philanthropy Women, which means they help me access grant funding to produce our content. Also, as a publisher focused on women’s funding, I am always keeping an eye on WFRI, and I’ve written several posts about your grant-making and other activities. I enjoy attending WFRI events and meeting other members, so it feels like my local chapter of the women’s funding world.

What advice do you have for women who want to engage in philanthropy, and in particular support organizations like ours?

Forgive me for quoting a corporate slogan, but just do it! I really enjoy being in the community of women givers, and have had some wonderful experiences going to conferences and retreats. Everyone has to find their tribe at some point, and I definitely feel like I found my tribe with progressive women givers. We are concerned with solving big problems that will make the world a better place, and it’s working. Women are moving into leadership in greater numbers. Men are openly proclaiming that they are feminists and are doing more to support gender equality. People are beginning to recognize the negative impacts of inequality, domination, and exploitation at all levels of society.

Is there anything else you feel is important to note about the current environment of women in philanthropy?

It’s encouraging to watch women figure out how to leverage their personal and financial power in order to address gender equality. If you are interested in knowing more about women givers, or in sharing a story about women’s philanthropy and how it has impacted your life, I would love to hear from you.

Related:

Research Reveals Common Traits for Gender Equality Givers

Small But Mighty: Women’s Fund of Rhode Island Makes New Round of Grants

Women’s Funds Deploy $58.4 Million in Funding in Two Years

Kathy LeMay on Regenerating Courage as a Social Change Agent

WFN Launches New Resource and Community Hub for Women Entrepreneurs

WPI Study: What Influences Men Vs. Women to Give to Gender Equality?

WPI’s new report has important implications for both fundraising and the role of philanthropy media in spotlighting gender equality giving.

The phenomenon of watching others do something before we do it ourselves: it’s a process that seems hard-wired into humans. And in fact, prior research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy shows that when we see others giving to charity, we are more inclined to engage in that same giving behavior ourselves.

Now, new research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute investigates how the process of observing giving behavior in others plays out differently for men and women, particularly when they are considering making a donation to women and girls.

Takeaway for Fundraisers: Men Need to See Men Giving

This new research, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, uncovered a significant gender difference: women only need to see other women as role models in order to be influenced toward gender equality giving, whereas men need to see both men and women as role models in order to be influenced toward the behavior.

“Women’s and girls’ organizations and fundraisers in general can use this research to take concrete action to increase their fundraising,” said Debra J. Mesch, Ph.D., the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

One solution to this problem: showcase men giving to women’s and girls’ causes alongside women. This research suggests that fundraising professionals can potentially reach more male donors by featuring testimonials and donor stories from men about their decision to fund women’s and girls’ causes.

The study also notes that fundraisers across philanthropy would do well to apply this finding to any other group of donors that may not be giving to their fullest capacity. The research validates that testimonials and donor spotlights on a diverse range of givers may help more people envision themselves as givers to any cause. “Apply this ‘visibility’ strategy to any group that typically gives less frequently to your organization,” advises the infographic that accompanies the report.

Implications for Philanthropy Media: Showcase Diverse Givers of All Genders and Backgrounds

This study affirms that having visible role models is key for any social movement. As more stories of gender equality giving make it into the mainstream media, more people are able to find role models to envision themselves giving in this way. While publishers in the philanthropy sector like The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Inside Philanthropy all cover gender equality giving, it would be helpful if they shared more stories that feature a wider range of givers to gender equality, so that the public has more examples of how different people arrive at gender equality giving as a priority.

Takeaway for Feminist Philanthropy Media (Like Us!): Keep Sharing Stories of Gender Equality Giving 

The reports speaks to the role that social media sites like Facebook and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe play in increasing the visibility of people giving. We here at Philanthropy Women would argue that another important part of the landscape for social visibility and discourse around feminist philanthropy is specialized publishing on the subject. Many philanthropy media sites feature stories of gender equality giving, but Philanthropy Women is the only publication specifically dedicated to profiling this uniquely powerful work.

Related:

Research Reveals Common Traits for Gender Equality Givers

Ripple Effect: Longtime Expert to Cultivate Giving Circles Worldwide

Priming the Pump: Exploring Ways to Grow Women’s Giving

New ED and Board Chair of Women Moving Millions Bring Financial and Legislative Power

Empowering Women by Changing Men: Promundo’s Global Fight for Gender Equality

NYWF Receives $300 K for Artistic and Gender-Based Justice Reforms

The Art for Justice Fund has awarded the New York Women’s Foundation $300,000 to pursue criminal justice reforms that will keep women and girls out of jail and prison.

What is the capacity for art to influence social change? The New York Women’s Foundation and its Justice Fund now have more funding to explore this question, particularly as it relates to women and girls involved with criminal justice. Recently, The New York Women’s Foundation  (The Foundation) announced receiving an  award of $300,000 from the Art for Justice Fund.

The grant will go to support The Justice Fund, a seven-year initiative launched under the umbrella of the foundation in fall 2018. The goal of the Justice Fund is to decrease mass incarceration and overcome the negative impacts of incarceration on women and girls. The Justice Fund is working toward this goal by supporting organizations using art to promote justice, safety, and well-being in the community.

“We’re so thankful to Agnes Gund, the visionary and transformative philanthropist, who founded the Art for Justice Fund,” said Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation. Gund is also one of the first members of the Foundation’s Justice Fund collaborative, and was one of the earliest supporters of The New York Women’s Foundation.

The Art for Justice Fund is a five-year initiative created by Agnes Gund and dedicated to reducing mass incarceration through the collective action of artists, advocates, and donors. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Ford Foundation are also partners in the endeavor.

One unusual aspect of The Justice Fund is its family-centered approach. “Women and families are seldom at the center of criminal justice reform and when women are incarcerated, the ripple effect on their dependents is profound,” said a press release announcing the $300,000 donation.

The Justice Fund is working at the crosshairs of art and social justice in an attempt to influence public systems, including the courts, health care, housing, child welfare and immigration. Through artist expression, advocacy and coordinated giving, the Justice Fund is advancing a strategy that is aimed at the root causes of social and economic inequality.

“We are at a unique moment in time to drive meaningful, long-term change,” said Helena Huang, project director for the Art for Justice Fund. “This is why the Art for Justice Fund exists: to support the work of artists and advocates to seize this moment and accelerate the movement. And this movement is a defining movement of our time.”

A full list of grantees can be found at the Art for Justice website.

Related:

New #MeToo Funding Fuels Empathy and Justice for Survivors

New York Women’s Foundation Announces Additional $4 Million in Grants for 2017

Women’s Funds Deploy $58.4 Million in Funding in Two Years

NYWF Report Stresses Urgency of Addressing Child Care, Housing

Joy-Centric Movement Building: NoVo Partners With Consortium to Empower Southern Black Girls

Movement Builder LaTosha Brown is leading a new consortium of organizations in the Southeastern U.S. dedicated to empowering women and girls of color. (photo credit: TruthSpeaks Consulting Facebook photo)

Despite the myriad challenges that young Black women face in the U.S. South, only 5.4 percent of all foundation funding in this region is focused on women and girls, and less than 1 percent on Black women and girls. To address this imbalance and empower southern Black females, LaTosha Brown of TruthSpeaks Consulting is coordinating a new initiative called the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium (the Consortium), with support from the NoVo Foundation (NoVo). Brown has a clear, creative vision for this work, which she plans to orient around listening to Black girls and “Black joy.”

NoVo’s Partnership With Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium

In the fall of 2018, NoVo, one of the largest private foundations advocating for gender equality, announced a partnership with the Consortium, which is a collective of funders, activists, and community leaders. Along with regional grantmaking, the Consortium will coordinate efforts and support opportunities to provide spaces for healing, political education, and capacity building for movements centered on and led by Black females of diverse ages.

Brown, who has a background in philanthropic advisory and social-impact philanthropy, recently spoke with Philanthropy Women to discuss one of the main challenges of advancing this work in a region that has been “deeply, deeply under-invested in.” She sees a “delicate dance and balancing act” ahead as they work to address historical barriers of racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism while also creating new programs and avenues of support for Black girls.

“I think part of the challenge is being able to build and tear down at the same time,” says Brown. “To tear down those barriers that have had a disproportionate impact on Black girls, while, at the same time, building a new vision and creating a new framework.”

NoVo’s decision to team up with the Consortium marks the beginning of a new and essential stage in the foundation’s seven-year, $90 million commitment to strengthen its work with women of color in the U.S. — the biggest commitment ever made by a private foundation to address the structural inequities facing this population. In accord with the foundation’s core strategies of valuing the experiences of and empowering those most impacted by social injustice, the Consortium is coordinated by Black women in philanthropy, activism, and work with girls who, like Brown, have robust experience movement-building in the Southeast.

Women of color, having once been girls of color, are uniquely suited to steer this undertaking. Girls of color themselves will be included in the development of the evolving consortium, as they were in its selection by NoVo. After announcing the new giving strategy in 2016, NoVo spent a year conducting listening sessions with girls of color, movement leaders, and organizers, many in the South, Southeast, and Midwest, along with urban centers where it has established partners. Jennifer and Peter Buffett, NoVo co-presidents and board chairs, also conducted a similar listening process internationally when developing the focus for their foundation more than a decade ago. After the recent listening tour, NoVo requested national proposals for resourcing the movement for girls of color in the Southeast, and with the help of an advisory committee experienced in these fields, chose the Consortium as its core partner.

“Our goal is to create the conditions for change by advancing the work of the real experts in this movement: girls and young women of color and the advocates working with them,” Peter Buffett said of the new undertaking.

The strategy of zeroing in on young women of color aligns with NoVo’s missions of promoting adolescent girls’ rights in the U.S. and Global South and ending violence against girls and women. And, the Consortium’s mission can be seen as part of NoVo’s work to advance social and emotional learning and local community engagement. The new undertaking and partnership also recognizes the historically proven abilities of females of color to solve societal problems; the foundation lists notable activists Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, and Fannie Lou Hammer as inspirations.

In a similar vein, Brown says that in girls’ communities, there is “a lineage of women that feed into each other,” which is key to the Consortium. She describes its efforts as multigenerational, wherein girls’ mothers, aunts, and grandmothers are “very much a part of this work.”

NoVo Executive Director Pamela Shifman tells us, “We know that girls and women of color are powerful agents in addressing the systemic and structural racism, sexism and other forms of oppression facing communities.” Shifman also noted that the leadership of women and girls of color “has been largely overlooked by philanthropy and is long overdue.”

The Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium is also supported by the Appalachian Community Fund (ACF), the Fund for Southern Communities (FSC), and the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF). The BBCF, led by President Felecia Lucky, carries out grantmaking in Alabama‘s “Black Belt,” an area named for its rich soil that stretches across the middle of the state from Mississippi to near the Georgia line.

The foundation’s mission is to infuse this region with resources “that make a lasting impact,” with the guiding “idea that those living and working in the Black Belt best [know] the area’s challenges and opportunities.” The emphasis on trusting community members as change-makers resonates with both NoVo’s and the Consortiums’ goals, as does the BBCF’s statement that it values “the strengths of pluralistic communities where economic, racial, and social justice are practiced in a spirit of trust and sincerity.”

FSC’s work also lines up nicely with the Consortium’s plans.

“In a nutshell, FSC’s mission is to support organizations working to create just and sustainable communities through grant-making,” Executive Director Alice Jenkins says. She thinks the vision of the Consortium “perfectly and directly aligns” with this mission, pointing out that FSC and the Consortium also both seek to support “nontraditional and startup groups working to advance the work initiated by Black girls and women.”

Likewise, Margo Miller, executive director of ACF, sees the partnership with NoVo and the Consortium “as a real opportunity to lift up and bring much-needed resources and attention to rural areas like the Appalachian region in support of the creativity and power of Black girls in the South.”

The Consortium’s First Steps 

During the next year, the Consortium’s leadership team will create a strategic work plan. It will partners with girls and their adult supporters in the field, design an infrastructure to manage grantmaking and additional capacities, and bolster related social movements.

Brown says listening will continue to be a core principle of the Consortium’s work. “The one thing that I often hear more than anything else from young people, and particularly young people of color, is that they do not feel listened to,” says Brown. “We will make sure Black girls are centered in the decision-making process from the start.”

Brown also wants the Consortium’s work to help Black youth question and decide what they think power actually is and what it means to them. “Creating and embracing the opportunity for Black girls to really be able to seek and define power for themselves is transformation,” says Brown.

Brown’s Philosophy of Change: Listening, Joy, Power, and Freedom

Black girls and women experience many obstacles and disparities. For example, from the start of their lives, girls of color are more likely to face poverty, child sexual abuse, public harassment, school suspension, and dating violence than their white peers.

Brown acknowledges that these types of stats can drive engagement, and “as a grown-up Black girl,” she knows that for many of these young people, their “orientation of being comes from a place of pain.” But, she is quick to point out that the Consortium will be initiated from a place of Black joy, and of “creating spaces to lift up and celebrate the beauty, diversity, innovation, and creativity of Black girls.”

Brown envisions joy as the driver for the healing that is part of the Consortium’s mission. “Joy [is] a vehicle to open up spaces for healing, spaces to build relationships, to break down protection mechanisms — these barriers that we have to our connection,” says Brown. “We’ve seen how that works; how a little bit of joy can just create a whole bunch of trust and space for people to communicate and to open up. And so the healing is not framed by victimization but within the frame of survivorship and the concept of joy.”

While working to build an infrastructure for regional grantmaking and movement building, this joy-centric consortium-in-the-making will provide resources to locally-based organizations, including those outside of traditional nonprofits. Brown says these may include networks and organizations carrying out intersectional and cultural work. She foresees that fields like music and art will be harnessed as powerful points of connection, expression, and empowerment for Black girls. She has a background in music herself and has always found freedom of expression to be a strong root for selfhood.

“I really believe that being encouraged by my family to use my creativity and my imagination gave me faith that the world didn’t give me,” she says of her own youth. She shares that while her school experiences were often filled with stifling expectations of how Black girls should behave, her family supported her curious, questioning, and free-spirited nature.

“My family was traditional about children respecting adults, but they created space for who I was as a very independent person,” she says, recalling being allowed to climb a tree in her patent leather shoes as a memorable example.

Drawing on her own life wisdom, Brown is embarking on a new journey with the NoVo Foundation and the Consortium’s other partners and participants, who seek to broaden Black girls’ support structures along with their realms of possibility and autonomy.  “An element of liberation for me as a child, and even as a woman, was when others created space for me to be my whole audacious self,” she says. “Being able to express myself outside of the norm gave me a sense of agency for my own life. I would like to create embracing spaces where young Black girls can demonstrate agency over their own lives and have the freedom to express themselves.”

Related:

How Novo Is Spreading Radical Hope in Africa and Beyond

Behind a Law Scholar’s Push for More Funding for Women and Girls of Color

New ED and Board Chair of Women Moving Millions Bring Financial and Legislative Power

Why NoVo is Funding Young Women’s Freedom in California

 

As Gender Lens Investing Grows, the Social Impact Dividends Expand

Impact Alpha is a digital media company that describes its mission as “redefining business journalism around social and environmental value.”

Recently, I listened in on a call hosted by Catalyst at Large Suzanne Biegel, and author David Bank of Impact Alpha. Guests on the call included Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris Wealth Partners, which specializes in gender lens investing and research.

The call provided fascinating insights into the world of gender lens investing. Though in its early formative years, gender lens investing is a growing area of financial investment that is destined for big things.

Biegel began the call by giving an overview of both the expanding language and the expanding financial investments in the gender lens investing sector. “Gender lens investing is still small in the relative scheme of things, but it’s so much bigger than it was,” said Biegel. She shared the latest statistics from Project SAGE at the Wharton School of Business Social Impact, which turned up a record 87 funds that are now investing with a gender lens, with 46 of those funds being new creations that occurred between 2017 and 2018.

Biegel described how these funds are more geographically diverse than ever, and also semantically diverse. Along with gender lens investing, the terms used to described this evolving market have branched out with  “gender effect, gender smart, and gender alpha,” and the range of approaches being used have also expanded, with the number of different strategies being used going form 12 in 2017 to 35 in 2018. Across all strategies that include at least one factor of gender analysis, VERIS wealth partners are reporting an estimated $843 billion in money manager assets being devoted to gender-based investing.

Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris Wealth Partners joined the conversation by recognizing that “we are early on in trying to capture the gender alpha” since the investment sector is so young. Carlile suggested that as more prominent pension funds take on forms of gender lens investing, this could be an important signal to the market that these funds are growing in value and mainstream influence. She gave the example of State Street’s signaling when they unveiled the fearless girl statue on Wall Street as they announced the new ticker for their gender lens ETF.

Carlile talked about how funds managers are listening more to women on the ground running successful businesses, and this is adding to the ability of women to function more powerfully as business owners. To expand on this point, Sharron McPherson joined the conversation and talked about the organization that she helped co-found  —  Winde (Women in Infrastructure, Development, and Energy) —  a collective of 2,000 women construction and real estate professionals in Africa.

The call also highlighted the importance of gender lens public initiatives such as the one taking place in the New York City Economic Development Corporation under the leadership of Eric Clement. This initiative is providing $10 million to back women entrepreneurs in New York City and help build a more gender diverse procurement pipeline for public sector projects.

While gender lens grantmaking and gender lens investing are separate areas of feminist activity, it’s important to recognize that the two have some overlapping purposes. Biegel emphasized how gender alpha investing provides a value dividend across multiple domains — by growing women’s leadership in government and business, for example, while also addressing issues that disparately affect women and girls such as education and health care, or women’s leadership in steering efforts that address water access and climate change.

Related:

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

Reasons to be Thankful: Gender Alpha and Record Voter Turnout

Supporting Women-Led Enterprises in South East Asia: Root Capital Partners with Australian Government

New ED and Board Chair of Women Moving Millions Bring Financial and Legislative Power

Gender Matters All the Time: 9 of Philanthropy’s Most Powerful Gender Lens Investors

WFN’s Cynthia Nimmo Reflects on 2018 and Future of Feminism

Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, shares her epiphanies about this past year, and her vision of a more feminist future to come.

Like many organizations in the women’s funding community, Women’s Funding Network had a robust year of working on the issues most important to women, including financial empowerment, collaborating with men as allies, and strategic leveraging as a donor and an advocate.

To go a little deeper into this past year of activity in feminist philanthropy, we decided to talk to Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, and hear about what it felt like to run one of the most important organizations in the women’s funding space.

By operating regionally or at the state level, women’s funds add an essential level of leadership to gender equality work, since they are not controlled by government or corporate entities. This gives women’s funds the freedom to speak and act on issues that impact women, with less fear of political or corporate retaliation. By forming large collaboratives like the Women’s Funding Network, women’s funds are able to advocate for progress on the issues that women are dealing with on the ground — harassment, for example, or lack of access to health care — and support ways to address issues systemically through partnership between all sectors of society — business, nonprofit, and government.

This is why I support Women’s Funding Network as a donor. This year, I am urging all feminists to support WFN as a way to address gender issues and help us build a healthier world for all. In Cynthia Nimmo’s responses below, you will hear how WFN increased knowledge and strategy for gender equality on so many critical issues this past year.  I am confident that WFN brings added strength to gender equality movements both in the U.S. and globally, and I hope you will join me in supporting the critical role they play in moving toward a more gender equal world.

And now, some questions and responses with Cynthia Nimmo:

Kiersten Marek: What were some of the highlights of this year at WFN? 

Cynthia Nimmo: Bringing together leaders in gender equity is what we do best, and this year we hosted three powerful summits across the U.S.:  Women + Money; Women and Men as Allies; and Women + Power.  Each were sold-out and drew influencers from sectors beyond philanthropy, including fashion, finance, technology, and sports.  It’s been an absolute highlight to widen our circle to include the ever-growing audience of those who invest in gender equity.

There’s an alchemy that takes place at our summits, and it doesn’t end when the day is over.  Beyond programs and grantmaking, a majority of the members and allies within our network are advocating successfully for policy changes to improve the lives of women and girls.  This multi-pronged approach is what creates lasting change, and this year they asked for opportunities to use their voices together.  Members signed a joint statement decrying the separation of children from their parents on the U.S. border, as an example.  When foundation leaders representing $50 – 80 million/year in grantmaking stand together, it’s meaningful. 

KM: What epiphanies about gender equality came up for you or your staff this year?

CN: The epiphany came around how many people are involved in gender equality, men and women, from within philanthropy and beyond.  Another is about necessity of including a racial equity lens in gender equity work.   One cannot exist without the other.  For those of us working within philanthropy, tasked with funneling resources, we need to be ever-vigilant about who we partner with, how we partner with, and whose leadership is present.

KM: What inspires you most about WFN’s work? 

CN: On the days it feels like there is a backslide for women and girls, I am energized and inspired by the massive number of women using their voice, their money, and their influence to be a part of the universal demand for gender equality.  This wasn’t the case 15 years ago when I joined a movement that many considered to be outdated or unnecessary.  The work was being done by nonprofits, researchers, and others. It wasn’t part of the mainstream conversation. 

Now, women from all walks of life and in all professions are looking at aspects of their lives – from their paychecks, to childcare, to the ads they see – and are asking for something different.  If the change isn’t forthcoming, they themselves are taking up the mantle.  Making the case for gender equity, highlighting ways to get there, and creating opportunities for others to be involved has been our mission for 30 years.  It’s always inspiring!

KM: In the next 10 years, where do you see gender equality movements taking us?

CN: The conversation will become far more nuanced than a general push for equal rights.  We’re already seeing the beginnings of this, from why it’s important to have more women in the corporate boardroom, to why having a representative government is critical for our democracy, even down to things like the authors of books being taught in public schools and the faces on our currency. 

In 10 years, women’s leadership will be visible in every facet of society.  Advances in technology will support immediate sharing of information and opportunity for collective response in real time, in ways we can’t imagine. The programs that are being piloted now to educate boys on gender norms, will become commonplace. Women economists will be in demand, as they will have brought a deeper understanding to the general public about the policies and structures which have created the long-established wealth gap that is detrimental to the health of our families and our countries.   

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