Love-Bombed, Then Abandoned: Plight of the Feminist Grantee

Philanthropy Women May be Winding Down Due to Lack of Support for Feminist Media about Donor Leadership, Strategies and Practices.

With nearly 1,100 posts published, an unusually high and rising domain authority, and hundreds of feminist leaders and strategies highlighted, Philanthropy Women is simultaneously a feminist media powerhouse and running out of resources. And it’s not for lack of trying to find those resources, or generate them on our own.

Photo by Valentina Conde on Unsplash

What happened to us? It’s a case of what I can only describe as donor love-bombing and subsequent abandonment.

I’m sure this happens to most nonprofit organizations, but I think it might be particularly acute in the social justice realm. Because we go for so long in life having the experience that no one cares about social justice or, in my case, feminist social justice, and then suddenly all of these people DO care. And not only do they care, but they are willing to write you $5,000 checks to do this work.

This is not to say I was your usual grantee. I’m pretty sure I was a different experience for most of my 1% donors. I did things like stand up for myself and for the integrity of Philanthropy Women to donors who tried to bully me in various ways. I addressed donors with the same kind of clarity and respect that I speak to my psychotherapy clients with, even if I know the message may be hard for them to hear. Most of the time my attempts to provide serious and sincere communication were met with conspicuous silence. As they say in cyberlingo: <crickets>.

Feminist Media like Philanthropy Women Runs on Relatively Small Budget

We ran on a budget ranging between $10,000 and $35,000 a year for five years, employing myself part-time as publisher and editor, and employing a dozen or so freelance writers over that time to add to our content. At this point, about half of our budget is being generated by subscribers, but unfortunately, that’s not enough, and it honestly appears that there is not a lot of room for growth of this audience, at least not on a budget of our size.

Publishing is a tough racket, whether for-profit, non-profit, or grassroots. It requires real effort, strategy, technical skill, writing talent, marketing acumen, and a whole bunch of dollars to keep all of those facets running. I’m proud to have made it five years, and I would have gladly gone another five years if donors would have provided the very small amount of subsidizing we asked for this year. They did not. We looked for new donors, we applied for new grants, we tried to form new partnerships. None of it worked.

So December 2021 may see the end of our little home for news about women donors and their allies. It’s a sad, but, I’m sure, not unexpected potential outcome for a publication that was fueled by the dream of our world accelerating in its respect for women. I’m no longer confident that acceleration is happening, and when/if it does happen someday, hopefully we will pick up the pace. In the meantime, without more resources, Philanthropy Women will become an archived addition to the feminist media ecosystem, waiting for the world to catch up with our dreams.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

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

2 thoughts on “Love-Bombed, Then Abandoned: Plight of the Feminist Grantee”

  1. I subscribe and have appreciated your newsletter. As a board member of an all volunteer run nonprofit, I feel a similar weight as we try to find resources, volunteers and continue the mission of our organization.

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