Prioritizing Gender Equality: A Response to the Gates Annual Letter

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?

more gender equality
Melinda Gates devotes much of her part of the Gates Annual letter to discussing her agenda for bringing gender equality to the fore as a social issue. (Image Credit: Gates Foundation website)

For two decades, Bill and Melinda have spent $53.8 billion on philanthropy, all for the purpose of making the world a better place. Now, for the first time in that twenty years, Melinda Gates has planted a stake in the ground and declared gender to be a topic of high priority for the foundation’s work, and for her own work happening separately through Pivotal Ventures. From the letter:

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2% of 2% is Not Much: Why Feminism Grows At Snail’s Pace (And Updates)

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.

Google and other corporations fund initiatives for women and girls and release publicity suggesting that they are big champions of the cause. At the same time, these corporations continue to fund anti-feminist legislators through the Republican State Leadership Committee. See details in the feminist happenings listed at the end of this post. (Image credit: Google on Twitter)

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.

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PW Update: Research and Focus Changes in January 2022

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.

focus

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.

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Find Funds Now: 355 Funders for International Gender Equality


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.

International Funders for Gender Equality

  1. Bumble
  2. Bushrod H. Campbell and Adah F. Hall Charity Fund
  3. Cadence
  4. Calala Fondo de Mujeres
  5. C. Moore Media
  6. Catapult Foundation
  7. Caterpillar Foundation
  8. Central American Women’s Fund / Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM)
  9. Fondation CHANEL
  10. Channel Foundation
  11. Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
  12. Chrest Foundation
  13. Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation
  14. The Circle NGO
  15. Circle of Sisterhood Foundation
  16. Clara Lionel Foundation
  17. Prince Claus Foundation
  18. Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA)
  19. Clif Bar Family Foundation
  20. CODE Research Grants
  21. Co-Impact
  22. Comic Relief
  23. COMO Foundation
  24. Compton Foundation
  25. Cordes Foundation
  26. Evan Cornish Foundation
  27. Cultural Survival
  28. DAFNA Fund
  29. Dames Making Games
  30. Aliko Dangote Foundation
  31. Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK)
  32. Ecumenical Women’s Initiative
  33. EdelGive Foundation
  34. The Edge Fund
  35. EEA / Norway Grants
  36. Elsevier Foundation
  37. EMpower (Emerging Markets Foundation)
  38. End FGM Grassroots Fund
  39. Equality Fund
  40. EQUALS Digital Skills Foundation
  41. European Journalism Centre (EJC)
  42. Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
  43. Faraway Foundation
  44. Feminist Review Trust
  45. The Freedom Fund

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Funder Database: 413 Funders for Gender Equality in the US

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.

funder database
The PW Gender Equality Funder Database has 413 listings, many with live Twitter feed to catch you up to date on each funder’s work.

Funders for Gender Equality in the U.S.

  1. A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO)
  2. Accenture
  3. Adidas
  4. Adobe Foundation
  5. AEC Trust
  6. Agua Fund
  7. The AHA Foundation
  8. AIAS Foundation
  9. AIG
  10. Akamai
  11. AKC Humane Fund
  12. Alexia Foundation
  13. Rita Allen Foundation
  14. AnitaB. Org
  15. Isabel Allende Foundation
  16. Alliance for Girls
  17. Allyn Family Foundation
  18. Alternatives for Girls
  19. Amazon
  20. American Eagle Outfitters Foundation

Like what you see? Why not subscribe and support this one-of-a-kind resource on gender equality funding?

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When Women’s Leadership Has Market Value, the World Changes

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.

And now a few words from our Editor in Chief, Kiersten.

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.

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Share the Joy and Unique Promise of Giving for Gender Equality

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.

giving tuesday 2020
Did you know that research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute showed that in 2018, women gave the majority, 64.9%, of dollars donated on Giving Tuesday? Perhaps that’s because women generally look for opportunities to give, and when a new holiday is established where the sole purpose is to give to charity, women are all over it.

#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.

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Sara Lomelin’s Passion for the Philanthropy of Everyday People

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sara Lomelin, executive director of Philanthropy Together.

Sara Lomelin, courtesy of Sara Lomelin

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.

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After Five Years, Philanthropy Women Rebranding in 2022

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.”

philanthropy women
Philanthropy Women will be rebranding to expand its scope in 2022.

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.

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What’s In America’s First-Ever Strategy on Gender Equality?

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 Biden-Harris administration’s Gender Policy Council recently released the country’s first National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality. (Image credit: White House Report)

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.

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