How Can Funders Accelerate Gender Equality? Pamela Shifman Responds

I recently took the time to read Lighting the Way, a new report from Shake the Table and The Bridgespan Group. These two entities came together to enhance our understanding of the connections between feminist movements and global philanthropy, and to provide some strategic guidelines on how to expand this work.

Lighting the Way, a report from Shake the Table, The Bridgespan Group, and many feminist leaders, details five steps for improving funding for gender equality worldwide. (Image Credit: Lighting the Way)

In order to formulate these guidelines, the group conducted 43 conversations with high-net-worth individuals, institutional funders, and leaders of feminist movements. Here is a quick summary of the five guidelines they created:

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All In: MacKenzie Scott’s Unique Trust and Transparency in Giving

 Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece by Jeannie Infante Sager, Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, explores the implications of recent philanthropic giving from MacKenzie Scott.

mackenzie scott transparency
Jeannie Sager, Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute (Photo Credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute)

MacKenzie Scott’s recent round of donations brings her total giving to more than $12 billion, benefitting 1,257 nonprofit organizations since 2020. With 60% of her gifts supporting women-led organizations, this is a transformational moment for the visibility of women’s roles in philanthropy and is redefining what it means to give.

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Funders: Support New Student Strikes to Reform Gun Laws

It’s hard to render me speechless. I am accustomed to speaking and responding frequently. As a healthcare provider, it is a big part of my job. And when COVID happened, as an editor and writer, I took extra time and energy to create a COVID 19 special edition to call attention to women’s leadership at that critical juncture.

gun violence
Students gather at a student strike to end gun violence in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on June 1, 2022. (Image credit: Carlos Munoz, Boston Globe)

But as a writer and as an American, I have been rendered speechless over the last week since the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

It is impossible to imagine the horror of the parents and families of these innocent children and teachers. And to read that one fourth grade girl called multiple times begging for the police to come — it just brings me to a place of utter speechlessness for the degraded state of our country. We are truly a nation of savages. Or perhaps even worse than savages — people who will knowingly and willingly put children in harm’s way.

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Activist and Expert Allison Fine: Roadmap for Post-Roe Philanthropy

Elizabeth Warren has described the decades-long fight to protect Roe as standing high up on a ledge, and every year the ledge has gotten smaller and smaller. The upcoming SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade removes the last sliver of the ledge.  

Allison Fine at a pro-choice rally in Tarrytown, New York on May 14, 2022. (Image credit: Allison Fine)

Overturning Roe has been the goal of the reactionary Right: to whitewash America by oppressing women and people of color. It’s not a byproduct of their relentless 40-year effort to turn back the clock, it is the point.

To be clear, women living in states like Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alabama have been living in a post-Roe world for a while. Still, it’s one thing not to have limited access, it’s another to be imprisoned for murder. 

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If Roe V. Wade Ends, What Should Feminist Funders Do?

What a disturbing time for humanity. It turns out that several of our new Supreme Court justices are outright liars about their commitment to Roe. v. Wade as the law of the land. As a result, we are now facing the end of legal abortion care in the U.S. What should funders of a pro-choice world do?

Doctors and activists gathered at the state Capital in Rhode Island recently to protest the draft new SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Image credit: Womxn Project)

That’s a big question, but it all comes down to increasing funding for women. If we increase funding for women, particularly women’s health care and women in political leadership, we can increase the ability for women to control their own lives. These are two of the most significant areas that need more funding, if we want to solve the problem of access to abortion.

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MacKenzie Scott’s Newest Batch of Culture-Challenging Donations

Very few of us can get away with challenging the capitalist and male-dominated values of our country. Unless you have a lot of money, you generally make more headway in American society if you watch every word you say and every move you make to ensure they remain within the lines of the men-first, pro-business, money-above-everything mentality that surrounds us. But MacKenzie Scott is able to challenge these ideas by sharing her resources with organizations that are doing the work on the ground for a better quality of life in America.

MacKenzie Scott with husband Dan Jewett. (Image credit: The Giving Pledge)

This week, MacKenzie Scott put organization names and faces to the recent $3.8 billion she distributed. The money went to a vast array of organizations that support the social and economic fabric of our culture. Here on PW, we are going to provide the gender-lens pull-out list of organizations receiving funding, with the proviso that there are other layers in her funding that satisfy feminist giving values around equity and inclusion but are not explicitly addressing gender bias. These organizations are helping us navigate new territory as a society, a place where we can prioritize healthier relationships, personal wellness, and quality education and healthcare experiences. Almost all of the organizations on this list have been covered in articles here at Philanthropy Women over the past five years.

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Former Prosecutor Spearheads New Survivor-Led Justice Project

Jane Manning, former sex crimes prosecutor and current survivor advocate, considers herself a person who doesn’t back down when it comes to seeking criminal justice accountability for sexual assault. “There aren’t a lot of us doing this kind of work in the nonprofit zone,” she said.

The Women’s Equal Justice Project is growing its impact on gender-based violence. (Image credit: Women’s Equal Justice Project)

Manning has spent much of her life prosecuting sex crimes, domestic violence, and child abuse. As a survivor advocate, she has also immersed herself in the complex social issues involved in the fight to end violence against women. Now, as Director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project, Manning helps sexual assault survivors push back on a criminal justice system that is all too willing to dismiss their rights. 

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Verónica Colón Rosario: Unique Challenges for New Women’s Fund


Editor’s Note: 
This interview in our
 Feminist Giving IRL series features Veronica Colón, executive director of Puerto Rico Women’s Foundation.

Verónica Colón Rosario
Verónica Colón Rosario, executive director of Puerto Rico Women’s Foundation (Image Credit: Verónica Colón Rosario)

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I knew how small accomplishments and experiences were leading to big changes. I’ve had quite diverse professional experiences, from a research assistant to prominent investigators at NIH, to executive assistant to a Chairman of an international telecommunications company. There was a point in my career life, where I thought the multidisciplinarity of my background would hurt me in finding the space where I wanted to be, when in reality, it has given me the tools I need for this new endeavor. Our Foundation is relatively new and though it started in a good position, there is still a lot to do to build its presence and continue its growth. Now I have the necessary skills to get us there. Trust the process. 

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Natasha Brown’s Powerful Debut Novel + Feminist Philanthropy News

Well, hello my donor activist friends! Welcome to another week of exciting feminist philanthropy news, as well as my weekly discussion of happenings related to gender equality at large.

Natasha Brown is the author of Assembly, a fascinating novel about working in the c-suite of financial services in London. (Image credit: Elise Brown)

This week I took a deep excursion into literary culture and read Assembly by Natasha Brown. This novel caught my eye because it was by an author who had a background in financial services and math, yet when I picked up the book and read a few lines, I felt a deep sense of kinship with the words.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers about this book because it’s really a wonderful process to absorb the story without any preconceptions in mind. The story takes a narrative path that I can only describe as an anti-romance, and yet it felt strangely rich and satisfying to me as a reader.

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Why We Were So Easily Fooled by Hugh Hefner + Feminist Giving News

Hello there, my philanthro-friends. Welcome to another week of feminist giving updates, as well as other revelations in the world of gender equality news.

playboy feminist giving
Holly Madison, former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner and creator and star of Girls Next Door, discusses her diagnosis of Aspergers in Secrets of Playboy, and how she was drawn to living at the Playboy mansion early on because it gave her a sense of community. (Image credit: Secrets of Playboy)

This week, I did it. I binge-watched the first six episodes of Secrets of Playboy on A&E.

I did it for a lot of reasons. First, because I care about women, especially women who have survived trauma and are trying to make peace with that trauma and with the world that allowed it to happen.

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