Why Kendra Scott Gave $13.25 Million for Women Entrepreneurs

“This gift is about supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs,” said Kendra Scott, philanthropist, designer and professor of practice at University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts. Since 2019, when Scott first started an institute for women’s leadership in business at the school, she has enjoyed seeing women expand their horizons. “I’ve loved seeing UT create a space where women are inspired and motivated to be leaders in business and to use their knowledge, skills, and energy to keep changing the world and outdated business stereotypes.”

Kendra Scott, pictured at the women’s leadership center she founded at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center has now been endowed with $13.25 million from Scott, in order to expand education, space, and resources for women in business. (Image credit: Kendra Scott)

Kendra Scott started her company in 2002, just three months after her first son was born. With $500 and a love for dynamic design and good quality materials, she grew a start-up jewelry business into a company with over 2,000 employees (96% women) and expanded the product line to include home décor and beauty. 

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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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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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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?

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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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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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Maggie May’s Greatest Hits on Philanthropy Women

As one of our most prolific writers at Philanthropy Women, Maggie May deserves a special tribute. Two and a half years ago, Maggie May started weaving her mighty creativity into stories on gender equality funding and strategy, and now that she is leaving us for greener (and higher paying) pastures, we want to make sure we give her a proper send-off that represents all she has done for our publication, and for gender equality strategy and funding as a whole.

Over the course of two and half years, Maggie May wrote 190 posts for Philanthropy Women. (Image credit: Maggie May)

Maggie May wrote 190 articles for Philanthropy Women over her time with us, an incredible amount of productivity for a young writer. She helped discover and narrate the stories of many undervalued women leaders of our time, and did so with power, insight, and clarity. Her work ranged from personal interviews to covering events to exploring the difficult questions about who gets funding and why.

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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.”

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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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