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 four 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.
With the world in a state of crisis and flux, the people at Giving Tuesday, which happens the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, have created another day of global unity, #GivingTuesdayNow, which will take place this Tuesday, May 5, in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
As editor and publisher of Philanthropy Women, I will be participating in GivingTuesdayNow by supporting organizations that are particularly dedicated to women. We know from reports that women are crying out for help during this time, due to increased rates of domestic violence, increased problems with employment and income, and many other needs. In consultation with my family, these are the organizations we have chosen to support.
Right now, what we need more than ever is feminist leadership to get us through the COVID crisis.
That’s why we’re excited to share some BIG NEWS here at Philanthropy Women. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, a generous donor has provided extra support so that we can make registration for Premium Access to Philanthropy Women FREE for the next three months. (Editor’s Note: This special offer is now over.)
At Philanthropy Women, we will be working extra hard to be a resource for the feminist giving community on best practices to get us through the COVID crisis. We will work to generate ideas and share news that will help us make system-wide changes that will address this crisis and prevent future crises of this proportion in the future.
Time for a PW update about the future! We are now heading into our fourth year since our founding in January of 2017 here at Philanthropy Women. Starting and running PW has been a fascinating experience, and in an effort at radical business transparency, I’d like to fill you in on a little of the behind-the-scenes story of why we do what we do, and where we’re going.
Why Do We Do What We Do
Philanthropy Women was born out of my realization that very few people knew about the funders who have made gender equality a growing possibility in our world. Some 93% of these funders are women, and true to gender norms as women, they failed to promote their world-changing work.
This was a loss to society that I wanted to reconcile by showing what feminist givers looks like in real life. I also wanted to expand the definition of feminist giving to encompass a wide array of leaders at every level of society — from direct care workers to CEOs — who are giving their time, energy, and resources for the express purpose of seeing the world become more gender equal.
Melinda Gates Commits $1 Billion to Gender Equity in the U.S. : It’s a good day for women’s giving when one of the richest women in the world declares she will invest $1 billion over ten years (still not enough!) in new efforts to address gender equality. Not surprisingly, Melinda lays awake at night worrying about many of the same things I worry about:
Here’s what keeps me up at night: I imagine waking up one morning to find that the country has moved on. That the media has stopped reporting on systemic inequalities. That diversity remains something companies talk about instead of prioritizing. That all of this energy and attention has amounted to a temporary swell instead of a sea change.
Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.
And why does it matter? you ask. Why am I prying into the business of a private marriage on Philanthropy Women? Well, as it turns out, we now know that the answer to the question — did MacKenzie Bezos get a fair divorce settlement? — has huge implications for philanthropy. MacKenzie Bezos is one of the newest signatories of the Giving Pledge, committing to give away at least 50% of her assets while living.
Divorcing in a community property state like Washington, where all resources are considered jointly owned in a marriage, MacKenzie was eligible to get as much as $69 billion. Much of the talk before the Bezos divorce was final speculated that it could come out as a 50/50 split, with MacKenzie getting an equal amount. The actual number — $37 billion — is quite a bit smaller than that. Of the $137.2 billion estimated net worth of Jeff Bezos, $37 billion is only 26.9% of that. A far cry from a 50/50 split.
Quite a lot has happened in just a year’s time here at Philanthropy Women. We thought it would be helpful to let readers know about how this initiative is changing and evolving.
The impact of Philanthropy Women has increased significantly. Now in our second year, our writers, including myself, are more experienced and able to explore subjects more deeply and make more connections. Our amplification of content on social media has also increased. We are receiving more requests for media coverage, and our content has been sought for republication on high visibility venues. We have been able to attract top talent for writers, including Julia Travers, Laura Dorwart, Maggie May, and Tim Lehnert.
Recently I read a post on PRI.org by Rupa Shenoy entitled “The US movement against female genital mutilation is at a crossroads,” which discusses how laws to prevent FGM are developing and facing challenges in the US. The article is very informative about the status of the issue at this time, and helps to explore different ways to address the problem including community education and prevention efforts.
A salient point was made by one of the experts interviewed for the article, Mariya Taher, one of the co-founders of the anti-female genital mutilation advocacy group Sahiyo. With regard to the doctor who performed the genital cutting surgery that was the subject of a federal prosecution on FGM, and who justifies the act as part of a cultural practice, Taher said:
Do major league sports leaders have a responsibility to model respect for women in everything they do? This question is fresh on the minds of many due to Robert Kraft, philanthropist and owner of the New England Patriots, being charged with two counts of soliciting a prostitute in Florida, where he was allegedly engaging in sex acts with women at Orchids of Asia Salon.
Through his philanthropy, Robert Kraft has funded initiatives specifically aimed at ending sexual exploitation of women and girls. USA Today reports that Kraft gave $100,000 in 2015 to My Life, My Choice, a Boston-based organization that works on ending child sex trafficking. Some might ask how the same man can be both perpetrating sexual exploitation and funding initiatives to end it.