Editor’s Note: I originally wrote this post on February 17, 2020, and it is an interesting study in how questions from the past about the Gates Foundation are now being answered as the couple finalizes their divorce and their two paths diverge.
When one of the richest women in the world decides that gender equality should be more of a priority, what impact does that have? Should we cheer, or fear, this development?
Greetings, Friends! Hope you are all well and enjoying life as best you can. We continue to watch the scene on feminist giving news, and I still receive tons of emails pitching stories for PW. It pains me that I do not have the time to do more writing. I have had to increase my therapy caseload to cover the downsizing of PW, so my time for research and writing is more limited now.
When I get time to come back to PW, one of the things I like to do just to cheer myself up is to take a random stroll through the PW Funder Database. It just makes me feel better about the world to know that funders exist that are putting real dollars into gender equality strategies every day.
Well my friends, welcome to 2022! January is a time of research and development here at Philanthropy Women, as we refine our strategy going forward. After much consideration, we have decided not to rebrand or change the name of the website. Because it so accurately fits the content, it needs to stand. And because the gender equality issues in philanthropy still need so much attention, we will be keeping the name.
Beyond that, the future is much less clear. It turns out that by doubling up on niches, philanthropy being one niche and gender equality being (sadly) another niche, we have struggled to find a solid foundation. However, this does not mean that gender equality philanthropy does not need and deserve more media attention. In fact, our struggle is kind of like a real-time example of the entrenched marginalization of women, and feminist ideas, in the charitable realm.
The Philanthropy Women Gender Equality Funder Database is a unique data hub that aggregates over 700 listings of foundations, funds, and grantmakers. Our database provides contact and querying information as well as real-time news from the funders (when available) via live Twitter feed. All grantmakers in the PW Funder Database are doing gender equality work. The funders are listed across four categories: U.S., International, Corporate, and Family Foundations. The database is also searchable by keyword. Today, we are sharing a snapshot of 45 funders on our International Funders list.
The Philanthropy Women Gender Equality Funder Database is a unique data hub that aggregates over 700 listings of foundations, funds, and grantmakers. Our database provides contact and querying information as well as real-time news from the funders (when available) via live Twitter feed. All grantmakers in the PW Funder Database are doing gender equality work. The funders are listed across four categories: U.S., International, Corporate, and Family Foundations. The database is also searchable by keyword. Today, we are sharing the first 20 funders on our Gender Equality Funders for the U.S list.
It seems, in the feminist philanthropy community, everyone is waiting for that tipping point to come, when women’s leadership finally establishes its value to the world. COVID, it seems, is helping to accelerate our awareness of the added value of women’s leadership. By showing that countries led by women having strikingly better COVID survival and containment rates, we should finally be at that point where you could practically pour the product of women’s leadership into a bottle and sell it on the open market.
Well, think again. I have been on my own quest to establish the value of women’s leadership, particularly women’s leadership in philanthropy, over the past five years. I went in with the theory that feminist strategies are more powerful strategies, and once people get to know more about them, lots of folks would flock to our website and build up our subscriber base to the point where, eventually, it might even turn into a for-profit market product. Though fiscally sponsored by the Women’s Funding Network, our budget and strategy is built around the idea that only a small portion of our funding should come from grants, and that as our subscriber base grows, eventually, we could become attractive to a regular small business publication or larger progressive media platform.
Editor’s Note: I wrote this post a year ago, but I 100% endorse it again as the best use of your Giving Tuesday resources.
Since starting Philanthropy Women, we have chosen to embrace Giving Tuesday each year in different ways, but always as a great opportunity to give back to women. This year we are celebrating Giving Tuesday by naming our Top 10 Picks for feminist giving for the day. We hope you enjoy the list and relish the experience of making an intentional gift to one or all of them on Giving Tuesday.
#1 Women’s Fund of Rhode Island or Your State’s Women’s Fund
There is really no better bang for your charity buck than your own local women’s fund. Ours here in Rhode Island does a fantastic job of gender equality education and training, civic engagement, and grantmaking. Imagine if every adult in Rhode Island (roughly 800,000 people) gave just $1 to the Women’s Foundation of Rhode Island? That would mean $800,000 in resources that would exponentially increase the education, engagement, and grantmaking for one of the most influential women’s organizations in the state. Then we could really see what WFRI is capable of in terms of helping our state move toward gender equality. If you don’t live in Rhode Island, you can find your local women’s fund by visiting the Women’s Funding Network where most state and regional women’s funds are members.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
When I switched careers 12 years ago, I didn’t understand the power dynamics and barriers that exist for grassroots nonprofits. I wish I knew the intricacies of philanthropy and why such large gaps exist between those who need funding and those who receive. I now see that collectively, we are moving the needle to shift philanthropy, but it’s happening very slowly.
While I wish I’d entered on this path sooner, I am proud to now devote my career to giving circles because I believe this model is the most dynamic way to liberate capital to nonprofit leaders who know what solutions are best for their communities. Giving circles are filled with everyday givers coming together to diversify and democratize philanthropy. These are the voices that have historically been excluded by mainstream philanthropy and the voices that will break down these existing power dynamics and eliminate barriers to much-needed funding for grassroots leaders.
It’s like that line from the Indigo girls song: “The hardest to learn was the least complicated.” The hardest thing for philanthropy to learn is that equality must become a priority: gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ equality, and the list of those not included or given adequate resources and opportunities goes on. But instead, philanthropy keeps pointing elsewhere and saying, “Oh it’s a health care problem, oh it’s an education problem, oh it’s a workforce development problem.”
Our health care and education and workforce development problems often grow out of a firmly entrenched bedrock of equality problems. But the equality part of the story almost always gets minimized in philanthropy, almost always gets conveniently left out, almost always stays on the back burner. Ultimately, if you really look closely at what’s going on in philanthropy, you realize that philanthropy as a whole funds equality in mostly token ways — ways that never get at the root of the problem. As a result, equality remains a presumed cultural value that has no real mechanism for being realized on a broad scale. It’s a dream to talk about loftily and do some pilot programs on, and then get back to the serious business of running a society that worships and elevates the richest 1% to the grave detriment of everyone else.
It’s finally happening: America is charting its course as a nation to remedy our problems with gender equity and equality. What is contained in the momentous document, and how will it affect funding for gender issues?
The President and Vice President begin the document by locating the issue in our current context of heightened stakes for women and girls in the US and across the globe:
This document, the first-ever United States government strategy on gender equity and equality, is a part of that noble American tradition [of valuing equality]. It comes at an inflection point for the economic security, safety, health, and well-being of women and girls in our nation and around the globe. COVID-19 has exacerbated preexisting economic, health, and caregiving crises that disproportionately impacted women and girls long before the pandemic struck. Following the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, women’s participation in the American labor force plummeted to its lowest level in over 30 years. Rates of gender-based violence have risen significantly, and racial and ethnic inequity has deepened.