The 12 Most Promising Trends in Women’s Philanthropy

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 3, 2020.

Since I launched Philanthropy Women in 2017, and even before then, I have been paying close attention to the trends, as well as the big plays and strategy shifts, happening in feminist giving. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to enumerate some of those gender equality giving trends and other happenings, and flesh out what they mean both now and for the future of philanthropy.

feminist giving trends
State-based women’s funds such are getting more powerful as large foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation begin to recognize the value of their existing infrastructure to leverage social change. (Image credit: Women’s Foundation California)

1. Women Funders Are Getting More Ambitious With Their Strategies

I see women funders getting more ambitious with their strategies in many different ways, both in terms of the subjects they will fund as well as the approaches they are willing to try. This means they are doing bolder things with their money, which often translates into helping our culture to become more inclusive and knowledgeable about difference. For example, Mona Sinha, Chair of the Women Moving Millions Board, has done some amazing work lately supporting the documentary Disclosure. This film does groundbreaking work in terms of exploring the growing world of gender transition, helping this community to be seen and valued by society. Being unafraid to cross the barrier and fund the LGBTQ community is just one of the many bold strategies that more feminist funders are adopting more frequently.

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Which is More Important: Women on the Moon or Gender Equity on Earth?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 8, 2020.

Is repeating space/moon travel a more pressing issue than addressing gender equality on earth?

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos shared a video of his rocket engine on Instagram, with notes about the “thrust” and “deep throttling” of the machinery. (Image credit: Jeff Bezos Instagram)

Jeff Bezos seems to think so. The world’s richest man appears to be in something of a billionaire space-nerd contest with Elon Musk to see who can make the biggest cyber-splash with their private space travel enterprises.

Meanwhile, here on earth, we’re having much more pedestrian problems, such as mass deaths due to a preventable disease ravaging our populace, largely due to the extreme negligence of our country’s leadership.

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Janeen Comenote on How Native Feminist Values Can Guide Giving

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Janeen Comenote, Executive Director of the National Urban Indian Family Coalition and Marguerite Casey Foundation board member.

Janeen Comenote, courtesy of Janeen Comenote

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

When I first started working in the nonprofit sector over 20 years ago, the concept of philanthropy was completely foreign to me and, frankly, intimidating. I wish I would have known then that my lived professional, personal, and cultural experience is an important story for philanthropy to hear. I think there is real power in sharing our stories with one another and philanthropy needs to hear our collective stories. When I first started my career, it was in a sort of silo, I was unaware of how invisible the Native community was in the larger philanthropic, and American, diaspora. I think, had I known then how profoundly that realization would shape my career, I may have utilized additional messaging about it earlier.

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Sonal Sachdev Patel: Read This Post, Then Get Some Rest

Editor’s Note: The following essay from Sonal Sachdev Patel, CEO of God My Silent Partner Foundation, discusses the poor quality of life that many professionals in the nonprofit sector live with, and ways to improve that quality of life.

We live in a society that too often equates money with power – and there are very few people with more money than MacKenzie Scott.

get some rest
Sonal Sachdev Patel, CEO of God My Silent Partner Foundation. (Image credit: GMSP)

That’s why I was delighted to read her latest Medium post in which she makes the case for philanthropists getting more done by ceding power and getting out of the way.

That is, providing long-term, unrestricted funding to high-impact nonprofit organizations so they can get on with the important work of making positive change.

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How Desai Foundation has Shifted Now for the COVID Crisis in India

When last we spoke with Megha Desai of the Desai Foundation, it felt like the sky was the limit. But like so much else during the pandemic, critical need forced the Foundation to pivot away from their ambitious campaign goals around mask-making, and toward medical aid on the ground.

Like so many other nonprofit organizations, the Desai Foundation has been prompted to learned unexpected (but no less impactful) lessons during COVID. When one door closes, another opens, right? The Desai Foundation, however, also decided to build new doors.

Image Credit: Desai Foundation

Pivoting from Mask-Making to Other Areas of COVID Response in India

At the beginning of the pandemic, Megha Desai hoped to create a “Masks of Hope” campaign in India and the United States. The plan was to transition the Foundation’s production machines, ordinarily used to manufacture inexpensive menstrual hygiene products for communities in India, into mask manufacturing tools. Once the technique and designs were honed, the plan was to bring those machines back to the United States, bolstering the supplies of PPE moving to first responders and essential workers.

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Divorce Gap Alert: Why Melinda French Gates Deserves 50%

Here I am again, wanting to talk about divorce in the billionaire class. Today’s discussion will focus on Melinda French Gates, who recently filed for divorce from Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world.

Sun reflects off the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. (Photo by Taylor Vick on Unsplash)

We saw how it went down with MacKenzie Scott. She got about 26.9% of the assets in her divorce from Jeff Bezos. Soon after, we learned that MacKenzie Scott was one of the newest signatories of the Giving Pledge and would now (in theory) be giving away at least half her wealth while living. {sigh} So many more billions of dollars that MacKenzie Scott could have had to work with to do her off-the-charts giving, had she gotten 50%.

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Melinda Receives WPI Award, Urges More Philanthropy Led by Women

Melinda French Gates Receives Shaw-Hardy Taylor Achievement Award for Advancing Women’s Philanthropy

Melinda French Gates is the recipient of the Shaw-Hardy Taylor Achievement Award from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. (Image credit: WPI)

(Thursday, June 3, 2021) Philanthropist Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today received the Shaw-Hardy Taylor Achievement Award from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The Shaw-Hardy Taylor Achievement Award recognizes philanthropists, nonprofit leaders, volunteers, change agents, fundraisers and researchers who have moved women’s philanthropy forward and demonstrated significant impact on the field. The award has been presented triennially since 2008, with the exception that conferral of the award to French Gates, which had been slated for last year, was deferred due to the pandemic.

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A Titan Stepping Down: On Roslyn Dawson Thompson’s Leadership

The Texas Women’s Foundation (TXWF), a leader in women’s philanthropy in Texas and around the world, announced their President and CEO, Roslyn Dawson Thompson, is retiring from TXWF at the end of 2021. In conjunction with Dawson Thompson’s retirement announcement and TXWF’s succession plan, the nationwide search to fill her seemingly unfillable shoes is underway.

Roslyn Dawson Thompson
Roslyn Dawson Thompson has guided the Texas Women’s Foundation to unprecedented expansion for a decade and is now stepping down. (Photo credit: Texas Women’s Foundation)

Throughout her 10 years with TXWF, Dawson Thompson oversaw and led the organization from the Dallas Women’s Foundation to what it is today — a global force for women’s social and economic progress and philanthropy. Climbing the ranks from volunteer to CEO, Dawson Thompson’s unique perspective on how to develop efforts for women’s empowerment is a prime example of what TXWF promotes as a whole: community, integrity, inclusivity, and grassroots action.

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Chera Reid: “My Being and Doing are One and the Same”

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Chera Reid, Co-Executive Director, Center for Evaluation Innovation.

chera reid
Chera Reid, Co-Executive Director of Evaluation Roundtable at the Center for Evaluation Innovation, shares her insights on how we can become a more diverse community. (Image credit: Chera Reid)

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

I wish I had known that it was me, in my whole human self, that was what every organization needed from me. It was and is me that organizations are asking for. When I was starting out professionally, I was ready with my resume and eager to please. I worked hard to do more of what I believed senior leaders wanted me to do, and I kept parts of who I am to myself. Showing up wholly—head, heart, and hands—is what social change leadership requires. Today my being and doing are one and the same.

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Miss Out on the Gloria Awards? Check Out the Highlights

The Ms. Foundation’s 33rd Annual Gloria Awards featured renowned feminists Gloria Steinem, Amanda Gorman, Amanda Nguyen, and more.

The 33rd Annual Gloria Awards brought together some of the most powerful feminist voices. (Image credit: Getty for Ms. Foundation of Women)
The 33rd Annual Gloria Awards brought together some of the most powerful feminist voices. (Image credit: Getty for Ms. Foundation of Women)

On May 20th, the Ms. Foundation for Women, the nation’s first and oldest women’s foundation, hosted The 33rd Gloria Awards: A Salute to Women of Vision, which paid tribute to the remarkable achievements of those whose courage and leadership move our society toward a more just and inclusive world, and raised funds that will help support women-led nonprofits and community organizations in the nation’s most impacted communities.

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