Intersectional Philanthropy: A Conversation with Suzanne Lerner

Editor’s Note: This Q&A was created with the assistance and guidance of Claudia Carasso, Founder and Principal of Elastic Minds.

After our July webinar, “Lack of Funding for Women and Girls of Color: What Donors Can Do,” we had a chance to speak further with our guest, Suzanne Lerner, on her approach to intersectional gender lens philanthropy.

Suzanne Lerner, Co-Founder of clothing brand Michael Stars, is an activist entrepreneur with a primary focus on gender & racial equality, and the economic empowerment of women & girls. (Image Credit: Suzanne Lerner)

The conversation below explores Lerner’s experience as a philanthropist, business leader, and activist entrepreneur, as well as what other funders and company leaders can do to advance an intersectional focus in their approaches to philanthropy.

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Alliance for Girls Investigates COVID’s Impact on Diverse CA Girls

Alliance for Girls (AFG), a California-based network of girls-serving organizations, wants state and local leaders to pay more attention to the needs of girls—particularly Black girls and girls of color—in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo Credit: Alliance for Girls
Alliance for Girls’ Movement for Equity Conference, October 2019

To investigate this issue further, Alliance for Girls has launched “When Girls Thrive,” an initiative researching and advocating for an expanded understanding of how girls are being impacted by COVID. It includes an online survey, and addresses the lack of data on the needs and experiences of girls and gender-expansive youth up to 24 years of age. This group is particularly vulnerable during this time of increased health risks, extended isolation, and significant disruption and barriers to education and work. Such challenges are even more extreme for Black youth and youth of color.

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Coming Together to Make Health Care More Gender Responsive

Editor’s Note: The following announcement is from the publication Foreign Policy.

Nonprofit organization Women in Global Health is one of the sponsors of an upcoming conference on gender-responsive global health. (Image credit: Women in Global Health)

The COVID-19 crisis has been a stark reminder that global health is a fundamental security concern. The pandemic has exposed deep inequalities in health and social systems at global and national levels, including gender inequities, weakening our collective ability to tackle COVID-19 and generate improved health outcomes into the future. It is clear that the commitment made by governments to deliver Universal Health Coverage by 2030 is an essential prerequisite for global health security. Many lives will be lost to COVID-19 because gender disparities in the health workforce and wider society weaken our response. We can take steps now to build back better and bring the important conversation about equality and health into the international security arena.

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Get in on The Power of Us: Women Moving Millions 2020 Summit

On September 10th and 11th, 2020, Women Moving Millions holds its annual summit. The 2020 theme–The Power of Us–has particular resonance in a year blighted by pandemic, recession, and political struggle, and speaks to the ways we can do so much more when we work together.

Image Credit: Women Moving Millions (Facebook)

The two-day virtual event offers sessions for WMM members only on September 10th, followed by an action-packed day open to invited non-members and prospects on September 11th. What’s more–the event is completely free!

Sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and PJT Partners, the 2020 summit will focus on community, connection, and collaboration as tools to working toward a more just and equitable world.

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Liveblog: Women in Media Changing the Game

On Thursday, August 27th, we gathered for this month’s Philanthropy Women webinar: Women in Media Changing the Game. With guests Lori Sokol, Ruth Ann Harnisch, and Johanna Derlega, we discussed the under-funding and under-representation of female journalists and women’s media outlets, as well as ways funders can work to fix this under-representation.

How To Increase Funding for Women in Media

Editor-in-Chief Kiersten Marek kicked off the call with a reminder to breathe, and introduced today’s theme: Women in Media Changing the Game.

“We know now more than ever how important women’s leadership is,” she said. “COVID has taught us that women leaders in countries around the world have had much better success with managing COVID. And that’s just one example of the women’s leadership differential—the ability to prioritize health and the well-being of others.”

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WPI Receives $1.9 Million Gates Grant for Women’s Giving Research

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a new nearly two million dollar grant whose goal is to “advance actionable, global research on women’s giving to inform and equip donors and nonprofits.”

Jeannie Sager, Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute
Photo Credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute

The funding will fuel WPI’s ongoing research on domestic and global women’s giving, and empower organizations, donors and fundraisers to put these research insights into practice. Since 2015, WPI has conducted research on gender and philanthropy that helps inform the foundation’s Giving By All initiative, which is focused on growing giving and helping donors give more effectively and strategically.

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Kinga Wisniewska on Collaboration over Competition

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Kinga Wisniewska, the Resource Mobilization Manager at FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, a youth-led feminist fund working to support grassroots organizers in over 120 countries in the Global South.

Kinga Wisniewska is a feminist and a sexual and reproductive health and rights activist from Warsaw, Poland, now serving as the Resource Mobilization Manager at FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund. (Image Credit: FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund)

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

The fundraising field is quite secretive, as organizations fear that sharing their donor experiences would have repercussions on their relationships, or that they would have to compete for funds if they disclosed what opportunities they are working on. It’s so weighty to work in silos, feel isolated and overwhelmed with the “I have to do it all on my own” mentality. That makes fundraising burnout very real, with lasting effects on our well-being and health, and affects so many of us in philanthropy, especially those working in resource mobilization.

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August 27 Webinar: Women in Media Changing the Game

How can funding women’s media “change the game” when it comes to social change? When more feminist voices are heard, how will that impact the world?

In the next Philanthropy Women webinar, “Women in Media Changing the Game,” our Editor-in-Chief and superstars of women’s media will drill down on how funding women’s media is impacting social change. You don’t want to miss this one! Our star-studded guest roster includes Lori Sokol of Women’s ENews, Ruth Ann Harnisch of the Harnisch Foundation, and Johanna Derlega of The 19th, the new media epicenter for women in politics.

This webinar answers the question of what happens when more women are at the center of media: We’ll drill down on the ways that feminist funding can help elevate voices, amplify campaigns, and throw the label of “fake news” out the window.

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Sheri West on Getting Closer to an Inclusive, Equal World

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sheri West, the Founder, CEO & Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders.

Sheri West is the Founder, CEO, and Chairperson of LiveGirl, a nonprofit organization that builds confident leaders. (Image Credit: Sheri West/LiveGirl)

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

Prior to founding LiveGirl, I worked at a large, multi-national company for almost seventeen years. So, I had to “unlearn” corporate bureaucracy in order to embrace the competitive advantage of nimbleness in a small organization. Yes, we vet ideas and have approval processes, but we focus on moving fast when responding to the world. We mine for ideas that our team feels passionately about, and then we make them happen. I feel it’s more important to do what you truly believe in and pursue what makes you happy and excited.

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(Liveblog) Equality Can’t Wait Challenge Q&A

On Tuesday, August 4th, the organizers of the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge hosted a Q&A via Zoom webinar. The discussion focused on the contest itself: what it was, how to enter, and more. Starting with an introductory presentation on the Challenge application and finishing with a lengthy Q&A, this webinar focused on audience participation and a clear explanation of the contest rules and goals.

What is the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge?

The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge is a $40 million venture funded by Melinda Gates (through Pivotal Ventures), MacKenzie Scott, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and facilitated through Lever For Change, Pivotal Ventures, and Common Pool. Designed as a peer-reviewed and panel-evaluated contest, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge will offer grants of at least $10 million to at least three winning projects that help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030.

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