2% of 2% is Not Much: Why Feminism Grows At Snail’s Pace (And Updates)

Greetings, Friends! Hope you are all well and enjoying life as best you can. We continue to watch the scene on feminist giving news, and I still receive tons of emails pitching stories for PW. It pains me that I do not have the time to do more writing. I have had to increase my therapy caseload to cover the downsizing of PW, so my time for research and writing is more limited now.

Google and other corporations fund initiatives for women and girls and release publicity suggesting that they are big champions of the cause. At the same time, these corporations continue to fund anti-feminist legislators through the Republican State Leadership Committee. See details in the feminist happenings listed at the end of this post. (Image credit: Google on Twitter)

When I get time to come back to PW, one of the things I like to do just to cheer myself up is to take a random stroll through the PW Funder Database. It just makes me feel better about the world to know that funders exist that are putting real dollars into gender equality strategies every day.

But much of the time I am living in another world, the sometimes very dark world of being a therapist. This past year I have treated several nurses, some of whom were working in the field hospitals for COVID, others who had roles in elder and home-based care. I also treat many survivors of racism, sexism, homophobia, and many other forms of injustice. So many people have gone through so much, and being a therapist gives you a window into this world as you try to help stabilize and bring resources to people. You see many things, and are more aware of the pain and suffering happening all around us. There is a certain amount of trauma-by-proxy involved, and it has definitely taken its toll on me, and many other health care providers, these past two years.

It Often Doesn’t Pay (Literally or Figuratively) To Be A Feminist

I would like to make the bold assertion that being a feminist is hard charitable work. Compared to being an active part of a church congregation, for example, which I have been for over 20 years in various forms, being a feminist is, in my experience, much harder. It’s like God’s work to the Nth degree. Because 6 in 10 people believe the same things you believe — that the genders should be equal — but only 1 in 10 people is really comfortable talking about it. So you’re left with your feminist vulnerability hanging out on your sleeve, while everyone else decides to play it safe and not discuss their views. You also get to deal with fun stuff like disturbing misogynist mail sent to your office, and harassment online from anti-feminists.

And Yet, Feminist Giving Strategies Continue

And yet, the beat goes on. We receive 10-20 press releases or announcements a day that, in the past, would have qualified for consideration for an extended article or feature in our In The News section. This feminist giving news has a harder time getting out there, because of the entrenched bias in our media sector. Lots of times stories we wrote about got much further after a spin through our news and marketing cycle, including dozens of blasts on social media and in mailing list deliveries. Now, all of that has stopped.

Will it have any impact on the world one way or the other? It’s hard to say, since along with not having funding to publish, we also don’t have funding to study our lack of publishing and its impact on the community. But my guess is that all of the organizations and movement-builders we covered are going to be a little more starved for attention going forward, unless some other publication wants to come along and pick up the gender lens funding beat and really cover it intensively. Other philanthropy media outlets will do an occasional article with a gender lens, but they keep the feminist giving coverage within its proportional territory of 5 to 10 percent of all the news they cover.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute estimates that giving for women and girls amounts to about 2% (1.9% officially, but let’s round up for simplicity’s sake) of all philanthropic giving. And of those 2% of givers that make donations with a gender lens, I would estimate that only about 2% of those folks want to be public-facing about their giving and/or donate to support media on feminist approaches to philanthropy. So if you’re ever wondering about the slow pace of progress for women’s rights, one factor to consider is the lack of media about feminist giving strategies. As the title of the post says, 2% of 2% is not much, and that’s probably about all we have to work with at the moment in terms of media representation on feminist giving.

Of course, feminism as a whole has faced and continues to face other big obstacles besides lack of media representation. Women’s employment lost ground in the Great Recession of 2008, and employment and other big rights for women and girls are losing ground again in the ongoing battle with COVID. But beneath all of these external environmental impediments for women and girls, there is also a deep internal impediment — women’s lack of self-esteem about their own ideas and their tendency to tread lightly in the world.

It’s difficult to be a publication attempting to reflect a part of our culture that is already so marginalized. And it’s even harder to provide media on strategies of givers who really don’t want people watching their giving. But I would argue this watching is worth doing, because without it, the rest of the world doesn’t have as much information and can’t learn much from these strategies. Plus it only makes sense that women donor activists would want to have a group platform about the strategies for giving to women and girls, right?

That was my thinking when I started Philanthropy Women, anyway. But I also knew we were taking an “If we build it, they will come” mentality to an extreme by acting on the theory that amplifying news on feminist giving would help produce more of these strategies. There was definitely an element of wishful thinking involved.

But I like to think big, and to switch things up. That’s why I also like the idea of women naming buildings and baseball fields after themselves. All of these are acts of empowerment for women and girls — opportunities to help girls see themselves reflected in the institutions around them.

What’s the Hap in Feminist Giving

In the meantime, here, in no particular order, are 10 highlights of some recent happenings in the intrepid world of feminist giving news:

1: Trane Technologies has committed $1 million in funding to Project Scientist as part of an overall commitment to give more to underserved populations. More information here.

2: Elizabeth Yntema, who we have covered here at Philanthropy Women for her work in blazing the trail for gender lens data in the dance industry, had a feature article in the New York Times.

3: The Women’s Philanthropy Institute published a new report on Giving, Gender and COVID. The report finds that single women and couples gave less after the pandemic started, compared to single men.

4: Capital B, a news organization for Black Americans, officially launched recently. Co-founded by Lauren Williams (former Editor-in-Chief, Vox) and Akoto Ofori-Atta (former Managing Editor, The Trace), Capital B will provide journalism that “beats back against mistruths targeted at Black people.”

5: Ferring Pharmaceuticals announced 2.9 million in funding for 17 projects focused on gender, health and reproductive rights.

6: Tech company Progress announced the first recipients of The Progress Women in STEM Scholarship Series, which supports “a new global generation of extraordinary women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

7: The Clara Lionel Foundation (one of singer Rihanna’s giving vehicles) committed $15 million to climate justice, with much of this funding focused on women and girls of color.

8: Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC), a leader in the movement for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, announced a new initiative for minority women entrepreneurs. Details here.

9: Yolanda F. Johnson, Founder at Women of Color in Fundraising and Philanthropy, will be a recipient of the Institute for Nonprofit Practice’s 2021 Changemaker Awards! The awards honor remarkable people doing work in the nonprofit arena since the pandemic began. Join the celebratory event on 2/10 here: https://lnkd.in/ewAvcVhd

10: Big corporations like Google, At&T, and Walmart continue to donate to the Republican State Leadership Committee, in order to undo reproductive rights, while at the same time trying to claim that they are working to uplift women and girls around the world. Josh Legum and Tesnim Zekeria have the details. This kind of anti-feminist corporate giving comes at a time in our country’s history when we have seen the most regressive rollbacks on reproductive rights in 50 years.


Leadership in Philanthropy Needs a Gender Lens

Feminist Giving News: Undercovered and Undervalued

Top 10 Posts of 2019 on Philanthropy Women

New Product: PW Funder Database for Gender Equality

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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