What Philanthropy is Doing About the World’s Lack of Feminism

Well hello, my philanthro-lovelies! I hope you are doing well, and are ready to dive into some more feminist giving news!

Happy Black History Month! This painting is entitled “Biddy Mason, 1852, Los Angeles” and features one of the first Black women to own property in Los Angeles, Biddy Mason. The year is 1852 in this depiction. Biddy Mason is age 34 and not yet freed. She would go on to petition for her freedom in California in 1856, and received her certificate of emancipation in 1860. Before and after her emancipation, Biddy Mason practiced as a nurse and mid-wife. (Image credit: Kiersten Marek)

Today I’d like to start with a quote from MacKenzie Scott, who has outstripped her ex-husband’s lifetime of giving in just two years. Here are her words from when she made her promise to fulfill The Giving Pledge:

“There’s no question in my mind that anyone’s personal wealth is the product of a collective effort, and of social structures which present opportunities to some people and obstacles to countless others.” 

The kind of wealth that MacKenzie Scott and many other billionaires have amassed is due to a “collective effort” — and yet this collective effort involves “obstacles,” also known as exploitation and extraction acted out upon the earth and other people. Can the mega-billionaires ever repay the earth or the people for the damage done through this exploitation and extraction?

Well, at least MacKenzie Scott is trying to give back at a rate that far exceeds the standard in philanthropy. That is one very unique, and very powerful, way to be a feminist giver.

But at the same time that many billionaires have amassed even greater fortunes during COVID, a new Oxfam report points out that 160 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty. The price of all this wealth hoarding is very great in terms of human pain and suffering, and we need to remember that. Blogger Emily Livingston created an enlightening Instagram graphic series to help us all keep in mind how billionaire hoarding is impacting the world.

What’s New in the Feminist Giving Universe? Top 10 Happenings

So what is happening to make the world a more feminist place? Here, in no particular order, are some of the big things that are happening for the good of women and girls in the world right now:

1: New Feminist Funding Collaborative Awards $10M to Women’s Funds: Fenomenal Fund, a new collaborative for feminist funders, has awarded new grants totalling $10 million. Formed in 2019 by four private foundations – the Foundation for a Just Society, Open Society Foundations, the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation — Fenomenal Funds is supporting organizations in the Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds (INWF). More information available here.

2: MIT Solve and Truist Foundation to Award Over $1 Million for Women-Owned Businesses: Truist Foundation’s Inspire Awards, a pitch competition open to nonprofits supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and women-owned small businesses, opens today (February 16th) . The winner of the pitch competition will be awarded $250k to help them plan, market, and grow their businesses. Qualifying nonprofits can submit their applications through MIT Solve. Learn more about this competition you here.

3: Elsevier Foundation Awards: Six female researchers have been awarded the 2022 OWSD-Elsevier Foundation Award for Early-Career Women Scientists in the Developing World for their contributions to research tackling climate change and advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

4: Invest for Better Launches New Cohort: One of the biggest ways you can give as a feminist is to align your investments with a gender lens. Invest for Better is looking for new circle leaders for their spring cohort of people who want to build a more socially just financial portfolio. Prospective Circle leaders should indicate interest by completing this form

5. Using Family Capital for Your Women-Owned Business: This article about Falguni Nayar, the multibillionaire founder and CEO of Indian beauty e-commerce business Nykaa, really hit a nerve as she identified one of the key reasons that women don’t make big money in business: they’re afraid to spend the family capital. I recommend reading this article and thinking about how to change your mindset, and those of the people around you, so we can work on this problem and make it more possible for women to pursue their business dreams.

6. Gender Lens Investing in Basketball: In the gender lens investing realm, Susan and Michael Dell are putting up millions in investment dollars to help the WNBA grow women’s sports.

7. Women’s Funding Network Expands its Policy Work: WFN, a central hub for feminist giving strategy, is expanding its staff of change agents. With the hire of Mirenda Meghelli, who will shape thought on policy issues relating to childcare, economic mobility, and additional areas that impact women and girls around the world, and a new Operations Associate, Kinisha Holland, WFN will dig in deeper on policy work for women.

8. Slaight Family Foundation Gifts $15 M to 12 Gender Equality Organizations: A front-running Toronto family foundation, Slaight Family Foundation recently announced $15 million in gifts to 12 organizations across Canada, focused on improving the lives of women and girls, with a focus on Indigenous, Black, racialized, refugee and immigrant communities.

9. Clinton Foundation’s Maura Pally to Become Executive Director of Blackstone Charitable Foundation: Maura Pally brings a background in women’s studies at Brown University as well as a host of other big leadership role experiences to her new position. Read more here.

10. Give Your Voice to Get the ERA Finalized: It’s been a long and winding road, but the ERA is finally all done and ready to be put into action. But wait, there’s still more we have to do to get this law activated. With the help of Feminist Majority, do your part here.


Lessons for Philanthropy from Black Women Leaders

YWI: New Initiatives for Women and Girls of Color in DC and Beyond

Feminist Giving News: Undercovered and Undervalued

Top 10 Happenings in Feminist Philanthropy for Mid-Summer 2018

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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