Top 10 Posts of 2019 on Philanthropy Women

The Top 10 Posts of 2019 covered a wide range of topics including domestic violence, giving circles, women in finance, and more.
The Legacy of Jennifer Schlecht and the Tragedy of her Loss

Today, we want to believe we are so connected and empowered as women, and yet, Jennifer Schlecht was not connected enough to be protected from the brutal murder of herself and her precious daughter at the hands of her husband. We got many times the average number of page views for this post. Ariel Dougherty did an excellent job of combining resources and analysis in the piece, but the fact that it got so many page views also suggests that this story was vastly under-reported in the mainstream news. While I’m proud to hold up the banner and call attention to this terrible domestic violence tragedy, I also urge other publishers and news outlets to take up the discussion of domestic violence by publishing articles about victims like Jennifer Schlecht, so that we can find more solutions that address violence against women.
At $37 Billion, Did MacKenzie Bezos Get a Fair Divorce Settlement?

This post also got a much higher number of page views than most of our posts. It seemed to hit a nerve, with several commenters dissenting from my opinion that MacKenzie Bezos may have deserved more. It’s an important question that needs further exploration from funders: how to ensure that women are adequately compensated in divorce. The Bezos divorce could have produced billions and billions more for philanthropy, had the financial settlement been a more 50/50 arrangement. In any case, it got people talking, and paying attention to, the philanthropy of MacKenzie Bezos.
L’il Rhody Smashes the Patriarchy, Protecting Roe and Repro Rights. How Did They Do It?

With women’s reproductive rights being stolen away in parts of the country, it was heartening to report on Rhode Island’s successful passage of protections for access to reproductive health care. We hope this article provides a template that other states can consider as they find ways to protect a woman’s right to choose.
We Are Unstoppable: Giving Circles Organize Into a Movement

This piece started out on PW and was later reshared with some changes on Ms. Magazine. It tells the story of how women are finding new ways to fund social change with networks and circles. Since this article was published, the Gates Foundation has invested $2 million more in building the infrastructure for giving circles to continue to expand across the U.S.
Investing in Girls Who Invest

The strategies for moving more women into the finance sector are expanding, and new techniques, such as training women in college to practice investing skills, are gaining more traction. This story was widely viewed, and has a great follow-up in the news this past month, with Coca-Cola’s announcement that it will give $1 million to Girls Who Invest.
Male Domination Prevails: Detailing Media’s Gender Imbalance

The lack of women in media was a major topic this past year, with films including This Changes Everything showcasing the data that proves that women continue to lack employment in and coverage by all forms of media. Laura Dorwart’s piece on The Women’s Media Center’s research and its ongoing fight to call attention to this problem did its job: it got seen by lots of eyeballs, and hopefully added to the momentum to actually do something about this problem.
Women Give More from Less

This piece on Paypal’s research on women’s giving patterns also had a very high page view rate, with lots of shares on social media as well. People are drawn to knowing more about the curious fact that women have less to give, and yet manage to give more than men. Bottom line: more research like this needs to happen, so we can begin to understand the way that gender and philanthropy relate to each other and influence social change.
#WomenFunded2019: Highlights from the First Day

One of the most important conferences this past year was WFN’s September conference in San Francisco. So many amazing leaders attended, and the speakers and workshops provided for a deep and purposeful convergence of women givers and their allies.
Shaping the Shapers: How WMM Trains Women in Social Change

Women Moving Millions continues to show itself as an organization with great passion for moving the needle on gender equality. This interview by our Senior Writer Maggie May with WMM’s new Executive Director, Sarah Haacke Byrd, helps to drill down on how this network is refashioning itself to train a cadre of feminist givers who know the strategies for high impact.
California Gender Justice Funders Launch $10 Mil Culture Change Fund

Another post that saw a high rate of page views was our piece on the Culture Change Fund, spearheaded by the Women’s Foundation of California. This cross-sector collaboration of corporate, private, and public foundations was a story of great interest to our readers, many of whom are working at different levels to build stakeholder alliances for gender equality movements.
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This Free Retreat Center Helps Women Heal from Sexual Abuse

LEHI, Utah, Dec. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ —  The #MeToo era has helped empower women to disclose their experience with sexual abuse, the next steps toward healing are often unclear. The Younique Foundation has taken on the mission to answer the call. The nonprofit’s “Haven Retreat” is specifically designed for adult female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The four-day retreat is filled with activities that provide participants with tools to help on their healing journey. The Younique Foundation is currently celebrating the 3000th survivor to attend its retreat.    

Participants at a Younique Foundation’s Haven Retreat participate in different forms of treatment to heal from childhood sexual abuse. (Photo credit: Younique Foundation)

Over four days, participants are treated as guests at a beautiful remote retreat where licensed mental health clinicians oversee the program. Classes are offered in a supportive community with other survivors. Classes include topics such as overcoming shame, practicing mindfulness, and healthy body image. Yoga and Muay Thai are also offered.

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The Legacy of Jennifer Schlecht and the Tragedy of her Loss

The global reproductive rights community is reeling with the tragic and untimely death of Jennifer Schlecht on November 6, 2019. A devoted and dedicated friend to women and girls everywhere, Schlecht had spent her entire career fostering family planning efforts for women across the globe. In recent years, she directed special attention to the need to provide family planning services for women drawn into humanitarian crises.

Jennifer Schlecht with her daughter Abaynesh. The child’s name means “you are the Nile” in Amharic. (Photo credit: Women’s Refugee Commission)

In April of 2018, Jennifer Schlecht took a new position as Senior Advisor on Emergency Preparedness and Response at Family Planning 2020. For Family Planning 2020, housed under the umbrella of United Nations Foundation’s activities, Schlecht collaborated with CARE on these issues as well as the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crisis.

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VIVA Girls: How MADRE Funds Girls on the Margins

Around the world, girls and teens are exposed to violence, environmental devastation, societal exclusion and harm, and other difficulties. MADRE is an international women’s rights organization that typically partners with women-led groups dealing with war and disaster. It is now stepping up to specifically support girls’ growth as they face diverse challenges through a new grantmaking program: VIVA Girls.

Girls from Columbia working with MADRE. (photo credit: MADRE)

With a focus on listening to and uplifting girls’ voices and solutions, MADRE wants to reach “girls from marginalized communities who endure many forms of discrimination; what some people would call ‘girls on the last mile,’” Executive Director Yifat Susskind says. Susskind offered us insights into how VIVA Girls works. MADRE plans to devote about $3 million to this initiative during the next three years.

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Leadership for a Changing World: Mary Robinson at #WomenFunded

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, provided the keynote address for Women Funding Network’s conference, Leadership for a Changing World, held in San Francisco in September. With a message of urgency about our climate crisis combined with a call for more women’s leadership, Robinson brought the audience to their feet with applause for her words.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – September 12 – Mary Robinson and Melanie Allen attend Women’s Funding Network Conference and VIP Reception with Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson on September 12th 2019 at Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco, CA (Photo – Susana Bates for Drew Altizer Photography)

“Unless women take leadership in dealing with the climate crisis, then all the other issues, and I fully believe in the intersectionality of all the other issues, but all the other issues will actually fade, because we won’t have a livable world for our children and grandchildren,” said Robinson. “It’s as simple as that, and as stark as that, and as real as that, and that’s why it’s so important that women are now taking that leadership.”

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Toxic Donors and The Perils of Not Listening to Women

Arwa Mboya, a MIT graduate student, speaks as a rally September 13th on campus organized to protest the university’s accepting Epstein donations. In August she had called for Joi Ito, director of the Media Lab, to resign.

In the fall-out around MIT’s prestigiously respected Media Lab over its acceptance of repeated donations from Jeffrey Epstein, a known sexual predator of underaged girls, a number of sheros shine. Each act of these women highlight a different aspect of the larger cultural problem about misogyny and how deeply masculinist views are entrenched at multiple points in society. I list the women here as the chronology of the story unfolded:

Arwa Mboya, MIT graduate student in Civic Media, a division of the Media Lab

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#WomenFunded2019: Highlights from the First Day

The first day of #WomenFunded2019 just wrapped up. With electrifying energy, the 400 people in attendance today engaged with a wide range of issues and topics. Here are some highlights.

MONEY: Where is the Money Going? How Philanthropists, Corporate Leaders, and Investors are Advancing Gender Equity

The first panel of the day included Kat Taylor, President and CEO of Beneficial Bank, Paulette Senior of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, Mary Chandler, Vice President of the Cummins Foundation, and Ada Williams Prince of Pivotal Ventures. The panel was moderated by Denise Dunning, Founder and Executive Director of Rise Up.

The panelists spoke from a personal perspective on how they became invested in gender equality. Many spoke of early life experiences of inequality that left a indelible mark. Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, shared about witnessing domestic violence experiences of friends as a child and young adult and remembered thinking, “This can’t be the reality of so many people I love.”

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Alarm Bells Ringing Over Trump Human Rights Commission

Organizations and legislators are urging the U.S. to protect human rights globally and disband U.S. Secretory of State Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Inalienable Rights.” (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Women funders with an eye on world affairs and human rights, take note: Critics fear that Mike Pompeo’s new “Commission on Unalienable Rights” is nothing more than a device for legitimizing a roll-back of gender, reproductive and LGBTQ rights globally.

In his July 8 “Remarks to the Press,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the new commission as an “informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy.” Opposition to the commission has been swift. Led by New Jersey’s Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 22 Democratic senators—including presidential hopefuls Bennet, Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren—sent a July 23 letter to Pompeo “expressing deep concern” about the commission. They also noted, “The President’s personal affection for those who have trampled on human rights has stained America’s moral fabric.”

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Girl Power: Helping Empower Teen Girls in Grantmaking

Girls participate in the WFG-funded Unearth storytelling project. (Image credit: BRAVE)

“Too few girls have the chance to make decisions about any aspect of their lives – whether they can stay in school, whether and what they can study, when or who they marry, accessing health care, and if and where they can see friends,” Swatee Deepak, director of With and For Girls (WFG) says. WFG is a funding collaborative that seeks to shift the scales of power in teen girls’ favor. It gives financial support to girl-led and -centered groups around the world and engages young women in participatory grantmaking panels. This means, every year, former winning organizations train teen girls to choose the next prize recipients. As we’ve pointed out, girls and young women ages 10 to 24 make up 12.5% of the world’s population — around 900 million people total. But, less than 2 cents of every international aid dollar goes to campaigns directed toward girls in this age group.

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Kamala Harris Unveils $1 Billion Proposal to Clear Rape Kit Backlog

Senator and 2020 Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris. (Photo Credit: US SenateBy United States Senate)

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled a $1 billion proposal in early July that could help to clear the backlog of an estimated 225,000-250,000 untested rape kits.

Linking her new proposal to her history as a prosecutor, Harris tweeted to her followers, “We need leaders committed to fighting for justice for survivors of abuse, not protecting predators.” As California’s Attorney General, Harris’ push for more funding to go towards rape kit analysis cleared a 1,300-kit backlog and lowered the average testing time from 90-120 days to just 30, earning her an Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

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