MDRC Confirms: Grameen Loans Help Fight Poverty for U.S. Women

A Grameen America borrower with child. (Photo credit: Grameen America)

Micro-loans, in which poor people are provided small loans so that they can jump-start or grow an enterprise, are often associated with least developed countries, but, according to a new study, this model has proved highly effective when applied to poor American women over the last decade.

The Grameen Bank model was pioneered in Bangladesh during the 1970s and 80s, and aimed to reduce poverty through the provision of loans, financial training, and peer support to those unable to access traditional credit mechanisms. It turned out a that small amount of funds enabling the purchase of such basics as tools, seeds, and livestock enabled many to lift themselves out of the most desperate kinds of poverty.

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How a Feminist Legend is Bringing Sisterhood to Fashion

Robin Morgan, accompanied by her son Blake Morgan, at the Paris fashion show debuting the Morgan-inspired “Sisterhood” t-shirts. (Photo credit: Blake Morgan on Twitter)

When a Dior fashion show begins amid the black ties and flashing cameras in the Musee Rodin, the last thing you’d expect to see is a tee shirt. But this is exactly what kicked off the display for Dior’s Autumn/Winter 2019 collection — a plain white tee-shirt, silk-printed with the words SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL.

Pulled directly from the cover of the 1984 book by the same name, the SISTERHOOD IS GLOBAL design features the familiar blue letters against a simple white background. At a glance, the shirts are a beautiful representation of the global sisterhood movement — but at their core, the shirts say so much more.

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Male Domination Prevails: Detailing Media’s Gender Imbalance

The Women’s Media Center 2019 report shows how men dominate media. (Image Credit: Women’s Media Center 2019 report)

Despite decades-long efforts from female journalists, broadcasters, writers, editors, and other media professionals, a gap persists in the representation and employment of women across all forms of media. The imbalance is even starker for female media professionals who are otherwise marginalized, like women of color, women with disabilities, and women who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.

The Women’s Media Center, a feminist organization that aims to close the gender and racial gaps in media with pointed research and training, recently released its annual flagship report on women’s media representation, including both the inequalities that haven’t been addressed and the progress that’s been made over the past year.

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Ending FGM in the United States and Abroad: Who Are the Funders?

An International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM has helped raise awareness, but more funding is needed to end the dangerous and unhealthy practice.

The subject of female genital mutilation (FGM) — the practice of removing a female’s clitoris, sometimes accompanied by sewing together her labia — rarely makes it into the mainstream news, so recent public awareness campaigns like February 6th’s #EndFGM campaign are helping to put it on the agenda.

Ending FGM is central to movements for women to be free to direct their own lives both in the U.S. and abroad. Feminist philanthropists have been working on this issue for decades, and now, with legislation passing to criminalize the practice, there is more potential than ever to realize some bigger gains.

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This Gender Lens Expert Sees Big Potential for DAF Giving Circles

Katherine Pease, Managing Director and Head of Impact Strategies for Cornerstone Capital, shares her expertise on the growing use of Donor Advised Funds by women’s funds and giving circles.

“There’s a time and place just for grants, and there’s a time and place for gender lens investing, but if you can find that sweet spot where they come together, that’s what gets me going,” says Katherine Pease, Managing Director and Head of Impact Strategies for Cornerstone Capital.

For Pease, the two strategies of gender lens grantmaking and gender lens investing can play a complementary role, particularly when using the Donor Advised Fund (DAF) as an investment vehicle. For women’s funds and foundations, Pease sees an expanding use of DAFs to create new ways to reach women at all levels of society with resources to grow their power.

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How This Investment Advisor Wants to Build Financial Power for Women

Linda Davis Taylor, CEO of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors, shares her vision of the growing influence of women in philanthropy and finance.

If there’s one thing Linda Davis Taylor thinks there’s too much of, it’s women taking concessions in salary negotiations. As the CEO and Chairman of Clifford Swan Investment Counselors, Taylor is calling on all women to create a culture where women ask for what they deserve at their jobs.

“I still hear so many women say they don’t know how to negotiate their salary, even women in top leadership positions,” said Taylor, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. She wants to see women get much more comfortable with having those difficult conversations that ensure equal pay and benefits for work at all levels and in all industries. She also wants to find more ways to ensure that “we start early enough in encouraging women to understand their role in salary negotiation.”

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Women Donors: What Can You Do to Support Women in Union Jobs?

Women workers belonging to unions earn more money. How can feminist philanthropists support unionized women? (Image courtesy of National Nurses United.)

As I scour the internet in my never-ending quest to know more about feminist strategies in philanthropy, I don’t often come across union support as a primary strategy. The Ms. Foundation for Women does some work in this area with its support of the Miami Worker’s Center and the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, but supporting unions like the American Federation of Teachers or National Nurses United does not appear to be a primary focus of most feminist philanthropy strategies.

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The Hidden Children: How Lumos is Empowering Social Change for Orphans Worldwide

Ten years into her signature philanthropic endeavor, Lumos, author J.K. Rowling has grown increasingly vocal about her disdain for developing world orphanages that do nothing to address the underlying needs of children and families.

Readers here at The Chronicle of Social Change know about the damage that child welfare systems can do to children, but perhaps even more damaging are money-driven orphanage systems, where children can suffer extreme neglect and lifetime attachment issues. And parents, often because of poverty, are deprived of the opportunity to raise their children.

“Globally, poverty is the no. 1 reason that children are institutionalized. Well-intentioned Westerners supporting orphanages perpetuate this highly damaging system and encourage the creation of more institutions as money magnets,” tweeted Rowling in late August, when expressing her fury at a voluntourism charity that was offering young adults the “CV-distinguishing” opportunity to volunteer in an orphanage in Moldova, where they could “play and interact” with children ”in desperate need of affection.”

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Why Give for Women and Girls?

Do you ever wonder what motivates someone to give money? Obviously, the answer is “yes” if you’re a professional fundraiser. But those who give may also wonder what’s really causing them to reach for that checkbook.

Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute sheds light on this area, particularly as it pertains to women at every level of society. Now, WPI has released a study showing for the first time that women are motivated by personal experience to give to causes that benefit women and girls specifically.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, it’s actually significant, useful information. Women’s tendency to donate money to specific causes based on experiences like having a child or discrimination suggests that philanthropy might take off in new directions as women become primary asset-holders in society and further increase their giving.

With the growth of women’s giving, so grows the visibility of this giving, and so grows the research. The new report, “Giving to Women and Girls: Who Gives, and Why,” explores the methods and motivations of donors who give to women’s and girls’ issues. The report is one of three produced by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has recently swung new resources behind WPI, as we’ve reported.

“Understanding the demographics and motivations of those who are giving to women’s and girls’ causes is increasingly important if we are to improve the lives of women and girls, and their families and communities,” said Debra Mesch, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, upon release of the report.

This research involved a brief nationally representative survey panel, and used seven focus groups drawn from “United Way and women’s fund donors who actively funded women’s and girls’ causes as well as donors who focused on other areas in their giving.” The study found that women are likely to give more, and give larger amounts, to causes that benefit women and girls. In particular, women are more likely to fund “domestic violence organizations, women’s centers, LGBT rights, cancer care and research, and economic opportunities for women and girls.”

Again, this may hardly seem like news, especially if you follow the news on women’s philanthropy. But hard data that nails these trends down has been pretty scarce.

Meanwhile, the report also confirms that women’s funds are a strong and diverse new way that people are giving more intentionally, and with gender equity impacts in mind. But the report identifies some significant gaps in data—such as aggregated financial information from women’s funds, both past and present, that could help determine which women’s funds are increasing their resources over time, and what fundraising approaches help facilitate growth of these funds. This is important data, and it is surprising that we are only now at the point of addressing this information gap, given that women’s funds have been growing across the country for decades.

It is unknown if the growth of women’s funds is a broad, pervasive trend, or if the distribution of growth is unequal, with some funds skyrocketing while others barely limp along. As you might expect, not all women’s funds thrive to the same degree. I know of at least one women’s fund in which the endowment never fully recovered from the 2008 economic meltdown, and there are probably more out there like that. At the same time, other women’s funds have been booming, such as the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which is now at $33 million in assets. What’s to explain the divergent fortunes of different women’s funds?

This research also questions the value proposition of women’s funds as opposed to other philanthropic vehicles, and suggests that further research is needed to determine which models for women’s funds are sustainable over time. Would women’s funds be better off positioned as leadership development and/or incubator organizations for women’s entrepreneurship, rather than long-term regranting organizations for nonprofits?

The report also addresses the role of men in giving to girls’ causes. Contrary to what you might expect, men comprised 40 percent of the respondents who donated to causes for women and girls. More research in this area is also needed. For example, how does including men on governing boards of women’s funds impact giving? Does more diverse and inclusive leadership of women’s funds expand donor populations for women’s funds?

Another important finding: the language of women’s and girls funds is changing, becoming more sophisticated, and targeting broader issues like poverty, community development, and social policy change. Early on, women’s funds used the language of “funding for women and girls,” while today, women’s funds are “advancing leadership” and addressing “economic security,” language designed to elevate the conversation and create larger-scale systemic change.

Women’s philanthropy has been rising. But beyond that, there are many unanswered questions in this area. Nobody is doing more than WPI to shed light on these questions, and it’s good to know that the Gates Foundation has put some serious money behind this effort lately.

ever wonder what motivates someone to give money? Obviously, the answer is “yes” if you’re a professional fundraiser. But those who give may also wonder what’s really causing them to reach for that checkbook.

Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute sheds light on this area, particularly as it pertains to women at every level of society. Now, WPI has released a study showing for the first time that women are motivated by personal experience to give to causes that benefit women and girls specifically.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, it’s actually significant, useful information. Women’s tendency to donate money to specific causes based on experiences like having a child or discrimination suggests that philanthropy might take off in new directions as women become primary asset-holders in society and further increase their giving.

Source: Experience Matters: Who Gives for Women and Girls, and Why – Inside PhilanthropyRead More

Some Words of Advice for the Next President from Jacki Zehner  

On JanAAEAAQAAAAAAAAi5AAAAJDIxMjc4YTM3LTIwZWMtNDBhOS05MjdiLTU0NzJkYjM4ZTg2Zguary 29th, 2009, a mere nine days after being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. It was his first piece of legislation as President, and it set the stage for a presidency that has been visibly committed to equal rights for men and women.

Since that historic day over seven years ago, Obama has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, signed into law the Affordable Care Act, created the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and the White House Council on Women and Girls, issued an executive order that mandated federal contractors to publish pay data according to gender and race in order to combat the wage gap, and this May, the White House will host The United State of Women, a three day summit in Washington DC that will tackle gender inequality across a range of issues, including education, health, leadership, and economic empowerment.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has never been shy in declaring his commitment to gender equality, often referencing his two young daughters as his inspiration, but with his presidency soon coming to an end, it’s time to look to the future. Come November 8th, the United States will have a new President, and regardless of who that President is, I have one question I want to ask them: What are YOU going to do to improve gender equality in this country?

Source: What I Would Tell The Next President | Jacki Zehner | LinkedInRead More