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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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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Co-Impact Announces Launch of New One Billion for The Gender Fund

Editor’s Note: The following announcement is from Olivia Leland, founder of Co-Impact, and the Co-Impact team.

Co-Impact has announced the launch of a new fund, The Gender Fund, to focus grantmaking on gender equality and women’s leadership. (Image credit: Co-Impact on Twitter)

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Partners,

As we begin the Generation Equality Forum, a key moment and platform to lay out joint agendas and commitments to action around gender equality, we have a chance to do something truly transformative – to be catalytic to a degree not previously possible and to re-imagine a world that serves all people equally.

That is why I am so excited to write to you today to announce the development of Co-Impact’s second fund – the Gender Fund – which seeks to raise and grant US $1 billion over the next decade to accelerate progress towards gender equality and advance women’s leadership.

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How is New York Women’s Fdn Supporting Underserved Communities?

The New York Women’s Foundation has given nearly $3M in grants to organizations helping underserved communities post-pandemic.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 14: The group Developing Artists performs onstage during the 32nd Anniversary Celebrating Women Breakfast at Marriott Marquis on May 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 14: The group Developing Artists performs onstage during the 32nd Anniversary Celebrating Women Breakfast at Marriott Marquis on May 14, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The New York Women’s Foundation)

On June 28th, The New York Women’s Foundation announced almost $3 million in grants reflecting the organization’s fundamental strategy of early and long-term investment in community-rooted organizations led by women and gender expansive people addressing critical issues in underinvested communities. The Foundation’s latest round of grants are critically important to women, gender expansive people and their families in a post-COVID reality. The Foundation is charging ahead and bolstering investments in advancing racial equity, ending mass incarceration in New York City, increasing economic stability for low-income families, and eliminating gender-based violence. 

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Brown’s Pembroke Center Receives $5M and New Director Leela Gandhi

The Brown University Pembroke Center, hub for research on gender, has received a $5M donation, bringing in a new director, Leela Gandhi.

Leela Gandhi will begin a three-year term as Director of the Pembroke Center on July 1st, 2021 (Image credit: Nick Dentamaro/Brown University)
Leela Gandhi will begin a three-year term as Director of the Pembroke Center on July 1st, 2021 (Image credit: Nick Dentamaro/Brown University)

On the eve of its 40th anniversary, which it will mark during the 2021-22 academic year, Brown University’s Pembroke Center already has two big reasons to celebrate.

The Pembroke Center, a hub of research on gender and sexuality that brings together scholars from multiple fields of study, received its largest gift to date this spring. In July, it will welcome an accomplished humanities scholar as its new director, a role endowed for the first time ever by the new gift.

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Announcing $540K To Fund Women Ascending In States’ Legislatures

The Ascend Fund has committed $540K to nonpartisan nonprofits in Michigan, Mississippi, and Washington working to advance women in politics.

Donate Now | The Ascend Fund by Panorama Global
The Ascend Fund works to increase the number of women in U.S. politics, committing $540K to organizations helping women in states’ legislatures. (Image credit: The Ascend Fund)

The Ascend Fund, a collaborative fund dedicated to accelerating the pace of change toward gender parity in U.S. politics, announced $540,000 in available grant funding to nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations in Michigan, Mississippi, and Washington state to increase the number of women serving in the states’ legislatures.  

“Critical policy decisions are made by state legislators. By investing in women, we are not just creating a more reflective democracy, we are investing in the health and stability of our political institutions,” said Abbie Hodgson, Director of The Ascend Fund.    Women are more than half the population, but less than one-third of elected officials. At the current rate of change, women won’t reach political parity in the U.S. for nearly 100 years. To accelerate the rate of change, organizations selected to participate in this two-year, three-state pilot will receive up to $100,000 in funding to: 

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Shayna Hetzel’s Vision for Gender Equality: An Open Sky as the Norm

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Shayna Hetzel, Community and Social Impact Investment Director at the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact. 

shayna hetzel
Shayna Hetzel, courtesy of Shayna Hetzel

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

 My greatest professional challenges, opportunities and successes have been rooted in unapologetic aspirations, insightful mentors and the brilliance of a team. I wish I had known early on how to set better boundaries and ask for help more often, because I have found that boundaries and help are leverage points for productivity, engagement and inclusion. And, fundamentally, community-based, purpose-driven work only gets stronger and bolder with focused, diverse and inclusive contributions. Asking for help not only builds in resilience and wellness for the individual. It also increases team capacity, levels up organizational competencies, and builds a more diverse and inclusive point of view.

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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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WDN Presents New Seminar Series on Uplifting Birth Justice

WDN has launched a three-part seminar series covering reproductive justice and its relationships to feminism and anti-racist movements.

WDN's three-part series will be spread across three separate dates: June 1st, June 16th, and July 14th. (Image credit: WDN)
WDN’s three-part series will be spread across three separate dates: June 1st, June 16th, and July 14th. (Image credit: WDN)

For the last ten years, birth justice service providers, advocates and funders have been pushing to improve US maternal health. Join WDN for a three-part series on birth justice and come away with an understanding of what the birth justice movement is, how it connects to the reproductive justice movement, and what it means to invest in it with an anti-racist, feminist lens.

Each session will cover a distinct topic with a panel of leaders from the birth justice movement. You can choose to go to as many or as few of the sessions as you’d like, in any order. Click “register” to select the sessions you’d like to attend.

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New Paradigm: Shifting Power as We Rebuild America with a Gender Lens

Editor’s Note: With the crisis of COVID comes the opportunity to see the world in a different light: one that values people of all genders and progresses toward greater economic and social justice. Here, Joy Anderson, President and Founder of Criterion Institute and Teresa Younger, CEO and President of the Ms. Foundation for Women, urge us to respond to the crisis by taking guidance from gender justice movement-builders.

(Image credit: Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash)

Imagine a world where financial actors actively sought out and paid gender experts to advise them on lending criteria and the terms attached to stimulus loans. Imagine gender justice organizations weighing in on reports produced by banks and consulting firms, shaping the narrative of where asset holders should be investing. Imagine if a key indicator of economic recovery was not how large-cap US stocks are trading, but how many women, nonbinary individuals, and people of color have returned to work in safe jobs that pay a fair wage and offered benefits.

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