I’m glad to be collaborating with David Callahan and publishing occasionally on Inside Philanthropy again. Here is my latest piece, featuring longtime philanthropy professional Kathy LeMay talking about her new masterclass for social change fundraising.
The topics of listening and participatory grantmaking are trending heavily in philanthropy right now, and for good reason. We are living in a time when the lack of listening and responsiveness from government and other social institutions is finally getting people’s attention. LeMay’s masterclass sounds like an opportunity worth exploring if you are particularly interested in engaging donors deeply in their mission and strengthening your skills as a change agent and fundraiser.
Despite an increasingly hostile climate for women and girls in the United States, with access to reproductive services being cut and campus sexual assault policies being rolled back, a partnership of women’s funds that started during the Obama administration is continuing to grow and deploy needed funds to grassroots organizations.
I’m always on the lookout for ways that women leaders are doing philanthropy differently — mixing and melding the work into different spaces, finding ways to combine giving with other activities and make philanthropy more accessible to the public. One effort that recently caught my eye was Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation (BTWF) and its collaborating-while-touring work with local organizations.
First, just to clear up a technical detail, BTWF is not actually a foundation, but a nonprofit with the mission of enhancing mental wellness and kindness in the community. This year, rather than using its end-of-year fundraising period to raise money for BTWF, the organization is giving all the money it raised during its partnership with its Channel Kindness Tour to grassroots organizations in communities across the country, many of which are doing groundbreaking work with inclusion as an essential value to building a healthy community.
With Christmas over, it’s now time to get down to business and develop a strong agenda for 2018. At the top of that agenda for progressive donors, in my opinion, is repealing the Trump Tax that recently passed. This legislation does more to hurt the middle class and nonprofits than can be tolerated in a society that still prides itself on equality and freedom.
Here are just a few choice details about how this law will deter giving for the middle and upper middle class. The law’s discouragement of itemized deductions by raising the standard deduction for married couples to $24,000, is estimated to reduce the number of itemized tax returns from the current 30% to only 5%. That means only 5% of people will have enough charitable and other deductions to qualify for itemizing their taxes. This change strikes a devastating blow to families in the $70,000 to $200,000 income level, who often stretch their giving in order to qualify for the charitable tax exemption at $12,000. Between the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction, some middle class families would be able to qualify for the $12,000 deduction threshold. By giving an extra two or three thousand or more, they are often supporting nonprofits in the community (their local church, food bank, or domestic violence shelter) getting a tax break, too.
“The Emergent Fund started as a plane built in mid-air. We moved faster than comfort allowed in developing a funding response to the new threats posed by the 2016 election because the scale of the crisis that loomed was so large, multidimensional, and immediate. Resources were urgently needed in many places and without much time for deliberation.”
So begins Visionary Resistance, a new report reviewing how several donor networks came together to invest $ 1 million rapidly for efforts to protect those most marginalized and targeted by a Trump presidency. Aptly named the Emergent Fund, this new resource is funded through a partnership between the Women Donors Network, Solidaire, Threshold Foundation, and the Democracy Alliance.
The Time Magazine article, by Jay Newton Small, explains that when women reach 20 to 30% of the critical mass in an industry, change starts to happen. Women begin to take the risk of revealing their #MeToo stories. Men begin to talk about how they felt pressured to fulfill gender norms with aggressive sexual behavior. People of all genders begin to open up about how their lives were impacted by sexual trauma.
I’m excited about the #FundWomen Twitter Chat, starting tomorrow at 11 AM EST. Also joining the conversation: clothing company Michael Stars, which has a foundation and uses its philanthropy to effect positive change for women.
Below is a sneak peek of a few of my upcoming tweets!
Here’s part of my answer for Question #2: How and why do you opt to fund women’s rights organizations?
Sorry for the lack of posting this past week — it has been a time of assessing our growth and figuring out next steps for Philanthropy Women. As the founder, editor, publisher, chief technologist, and business planner for the site, I needed to take time to research and develop some proposals for our growth. At the same, I also maintain a part-time caseload of psychotherapy clients, which wonderfully keeps me very in touch with the real world, but often requires much of my time and attention. In any case, I hope to share more about our future plans for Philanthropy Women soon.
Last week in New York, over 50 female philanthropists came together to launch a new educational scholarship fund for women.
At the occasion, the American Society of University of Haifa announced the founding of its new Women’s Scholarship Fund. The scholarship seeks to engage women at all levels of philanthropy and support female students at all levels of education.
“We are very committed to education. Education is the key to everything. It is something that you can’t take away and if you give someone an education, it will enable them to help themselves for the rest of their life,” said Lady Irene Hatter, who spoke at the gathering. With their philanthropy, Hatter and her husband, Sir Maurice Hatter, support World Jewish Relief and World ORT, a worldwide Jewish educational NGO.
Women in philanthropy: Check out Hala Ayala in Virginia, as part of an inspiring wave of women running for office in the state, which is having its elections this year. Hala Ayala is doing the very important work of standing up for what is right in an environment increasingly hostile to women and immigrants.
In Prince William County, Hala Ayala is hoping to bring her values of empowerment for women and equality for all to Richmond, and at the same time, send home one of Virginia’s leading anti-choice, anti-immigrant delegates.