Women and Girls Continue to be Underfunded by Philanthropy

Women and girls represent more than half of the population of the United States. Despite this, charitable giving to organizations serving them represents less than 2% of all philanthropic activity in the U.S. This is according to a new report published Wednesday, October 11 – the International Day of the Girl.  

As a percentage of all giving, giving for women and girls decreased in 2020, despite much public discussion about the need to fund women and girls in COVID. (Image credit: WGI)

The Women & Girls Index (WGI), released by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, finds that while charitable giving to women’s and girls’ organizations in the U.S. increased by 9.2% in 2020, growth of support for women and girls was lower than the rate of growth in overall charitable giving in 2020 (11.3%), even though the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted women and girls in myriad ways. 

In conjunction with the release of the 2023 WGI, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute will observe Give to Women and Girls Day, an effort to increase funding for women’s and girls’ organizations. For this effort, WGI will collaborate with Giving Tuesday, the Ms. Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, Vital Voices and more.  

Other notable findings from the report include: 

  • Reproductive health and family planning organizations received the greatest amount of philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations in 2020. However, other women’s and girls’ organizations experienced changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as increased contributions to women’s and girls’ human services organizations and decreased contributions to women’s and girls’ sports and recreation.  
  • Contributions to family and gender-based violence organizations rose by 17.9% between 2019 and 2020, suggesting that donors were potentially motivated to give to these organizations as incidents of domestic violence increased following pandemic stay-at-home orders. 
  • Support for women’s and girls’ organizations from government grants increased 10.1% from 2019 to 2020, but substantially lagged the 36.6% growth from this funding source that was received by other charitable organizations. 

For additional information, see the links below:

Women & Girls Index

Women’s Philanthropy Institute

Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

One A & One B: Two Brutal Court Actions Seek to Cripple Funding for Black Women & Girls

Conservative activists have launched a sustained assault on progressive efforts that try to aid underrepresented and underserved populations that are trying to improve their economic and social position. Two recent court rulings have struck at the foundation of the ability to give aid directly and specfically to women and girls of color.

The first came in June when the Supreme Court ruled to invalidate use of racial information in college entrance decisions. The second came Saturday, 9/30/23 and involved the Fearless Fund. Both were the work of conservative activist and litigant Edward Blum, founder of American Alliance for Equal Rights. Blum has devoted much of his life to eradicating any sort of assistance that is based on race and ethnicity.  

One A: A Ruling Against the Fearless Fund

In our July 10, 2023 update, Philanthropy Women highlighted the work being done and the progress being made by The Fearless Fund. The Fearless Fund is a trailblazer dedicated to increasing the amount of Venture Capital available to businesses started and run by Women of Color. The fund has recently received grants from Mastercard, Bank of America, and CostCo.

Unfortunately, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled on 9/30/23 to temporarily block the Fearless Fund from running its Strivers Grant Contest, which awards $20,000 grants to small businesses that are led by at least one woman of color among other requirements. 

The panel of judges decided 2-1 that the venture capital fund is “racially discriminatory.” This most recent ruling is part of a years-long conservative effort to end most forms of direct aid to WOC.

Attorney Von Bryant, who represents the interests of venture capitalists, says the Alliance is failing to consider the many disadvantages people of color have experienced for generations in entrepreneurship.

“In the context of historically systemic racism, what the Fearless Fund grant is really trying to do is be a beacon for people who have historically and presently had an uphill battle for funding,” Bryant said. “Th[e Fearless Fund] program is trying to address that…[because]…an important question is at stake. The plaintiffs in this case are fighting for quote ‘equality,’ but is that equitable?” he asks.

To read the complete story, visit:


One B: Another Insidious Lawsuit Launched Seeks to End Funding Dedicated to WOC

Another fund supporting women and girls of color has found itself in the crosshairs of a conservative effort to cripple funds directed towards helping women and girls of color. In addition to the Fearless Fund as reported above, Hello Alice, co-founded by Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, has been named in a class-action lawsuit for teaming up with Progressive Insurance Co. to award up to $25,000 in grants to 10 Black-owned businesses. The awards are part of Progressive Insurance’s Driving Small Business Forward fund program for Black-owned businesses. 

The complaint is part of a wider campaign by conservative organizations to push back against the recent arc toward diversity and equity measures in corporate decision making. It could wind up as a test case on this lightning-rod topic.

The lawsuit was filed by America First Legal, a conservative group committed to fighting progressive policy initiatives. It accuses Progressive Insurance’s Driving Small Business Forward fund program of discrimination because only Black owned small businesses are allowed to apply.

AFL filed the suit on behalf of Nathan Roberts, who owns a trucking dispatch company in Ohio. He is a customer of Progressive Insurance. He attempted to apply for a grant, but filed suit when he learned that only black-owned businesses were eligible. 

Gene Hamilton, vice president and general counsel of AFL, described the program as “offensive to the American ideal.”

Lawsuits such as this one against Hello Alice and against The Fearless Fund are widely seen as a strategy and tool to raise funds from conservative donors.

Read the full story in The Press Democrat of Santa Clara at this link.

Three: Applications Open for WAVE Film Grants for Women Of Color

Wavelength, a production company which describes themselves as “an award-winning film and content studio committed to developing and producing great…stories,” is now accepting applications for their fifth annual WAVE Grant. From the press release:

The grant stands for “women at the very edge” and is devoted to helping emerging female and non-binary filmmakers of color tell their own “great f**king story.” Wavelength will select five recipients to receive a $5,000 seed grant for the production of their first short film.

Applications open October 1, 2023 and will close December 1, 2023. In addition to the grant, the studio provides mentorship in the producing, development and post-production of the filmmaker’s short as well as fundraising and distribution strategy.

A video from past winners discussing the grant and how much the mentorship program from Wavelength has helped them complete their projects and furthered their filmmaking careers can be found at the link below:

WAVE Grant (learn more)

For additional information about Wavelength, including the WaveGrants, use the following link:


Four: Amazon Launches Women’s Startup Week November 6-10 

Amazon Web Services announced its first-ever AWS Women’s Demo Week, a week-long global event focused on helping women-led startups connect with investors.

“With a tighter capital market, women-led startups have faced a significant decline in venture funding. We want to ignite a movement to showcase the grit and ingenuity of these founders and help them get in front of investors during AWS Women’s Demo Week,” said Kathryn Van Nuys, Global Head of Specialized Startup Segments at AWS. “With the help of our network, we want to leverage our investor connections and resources to demonstrate that women-led startups are good businesses and should be taken seriously by all funders, not only those focused on supporting underrepresented groups”.

“Having a leading organization such as AWS advocate for us as woman founders is an invaluable business resource and also a significant confidence boost,” said Sharon Obuobi, CEO and Founder of Alt/Finance, a real-time market performance data platform.

“While women-led startups in general have less and less venture funding, Black women founders have been disproportionately affected by the economic downturn,” said Brittani Hunter, CEO and Founder of Mogul Millennial, a content and connections platform on a mission to empower Black women to excel as entrepreneurs.

To read the entire press release please follow the link below:


Five:  Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Names Latanya Mapp Frett as New President & CEO

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) today announced Latanya Mapp Frett will be its next President and CEO, succeeding Melissa Berman in the role she founded. Ms. Mapp Frett will exit her position as President and CEO of Global Fund for Women and start in the new role in January.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our excitement and delight in welcoming Latanya to RPA. Latanya’s 20-year career brokering alliances and community-centered solutions to thorny global challenges, coupled with her passion for equity, make her the ideal person to lead RPA’s next chapter. We salute Melissa’s legacy and look forward to supporting Latanya in our ongoing work of accelerating philanthropy in pursuit of a just world,” said RPA Board Chairperson Valerie Rockefeller.

“I am honored to join RPA at a critical time for philanthropy worldwide. RPA’s worldwide platform is well positioned to help funders embrace and value the path to real, lasting change while opening ways for those most marginalized to ensure social change on their own terms,” said Ms. Mapp Frett.

To read the entire announcement, please use the following link:


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