It’s hard to render me speechless. I am accustomed to speaking and responding frequently. As a healthcare provider, it is a big part of my job. And when COVID happened, as an editor and writer, I took extra time and energy to create a COVID 19 special edition to call attention to women’s leadership at that critical juncture.
But as a writer and as an American, I have been rendered speechless over the last week since the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
It is impossible to imagine the horror of the parents and families of these innocent children and teachers. And to read that one fourth grade girl called multiple times begging for the police to come — it just brings me to a place of utter speechlessness for the degraded state of our country. We are truly a nation of savages. Or perhaps even worse than savages — people who will knowingly and willingly put children in harm’s way.
Very few of us can get away with challenging the capitalist and male-dominated values of our country. Unless you have a lot of money, you generally make more headway in American society if you watch every word you say and every move you make to ensure they remain within the lines of the men-first, pro-business, money-above-everything mentality that surrounds us. But MacKenzie Scott is able to challenge these ideas by sharing her resources with organizations that are doing the work on the ground for a better quality of life in America.
This week, MacKenzie Scott put organization names and faces to the recent $3.8 billion she distributed. The money went to a vast array of organizations that support the social and economic fabric of our culture. Here on PW, we are going to provide the gender-lens pull-out list of organizations receiving funding, with the proviso that there are other layers in her funding that satisfy feminist giving values around equity and inclusion but are not explicitly addressing gender bias. These organizations are helping us navigate new territory as a society, a place where we can prioritize healthier relationships, personal wellness, and quality education and healthcare experiences. Almost all of the organizations on this list have been covered in articles here at Philanthropy Women over the past five years.
Well my friends, welcome to 2022! January is a time of research and development here at Philanthropy Women, as we refine our strategy going forward. After much consideration, we have decided not to rebrand or change the name of the website. Because it so accurately fits the content, it needs to stand. And because the gender equality issues in philanthropy still need so much attention, we will be keeping the name.
Beyond that, the future is much less clear. It turns out that by doubling up on niches, philanthropy being one niche and gender equality being (sadly) another niche, we have struggled to find a solid foundation. However, this does not mean that gender equality philanthropy does not need and deserve more media attention. In fact, our struggle is kind of like a real-time example of the entrenched marginalization of women, and feminist ideas, in the charitable realm.
“As a leader of a nonprofit, I strongly encourage folks to select one or more local organizations whose mission they love, whose leadership they know and trust, and to give to operations or unrestricted funds,” says Shanna Cox, President and CEO of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Cox oversees daily operations, events, and strategies for the Chamber, and believes in the power of giving to women and girls.
Cox leads with a “learn what people want and deliver it” mentality at the Chamber, and has a reputation for being honest, approachable, and ready to dive in to solve problems. When it comes to helping women business owners in her community, she references listening and mentoring as important keys to build women up in the process of helping them succeed in business.
As one of our most prolific writers at Philanthropy Women, Maggie May deserves a special tribute. Two and a half years ago, Maggie May started weaving her mighty creativity into stories on gender equality funding and strategy, and now that she is leaving us for greener (and higher paying) pastures, we want to make sure we give her a proper send-off that represents all she has done for our publication, and for gender equality strategy and funding as a whole.
Maggie May wrote 190 articles for Philanthropy Women over her time with us, an incredible amount of productivity for a young writer. She helped discover and narrate the stories of many undervalued women leaders of our time, and did so with power, insight, and clarity. Her work ranged from personal interviews to covering events to exploring the difficult questions about who gets funding and why.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
When I switched careers 12 years ago, I didn’t understand the power dynamics and barriers that exist for grassroots nonprofits. I wish I knew the intricacies of philanthropy and why such large gaps exist between those who need funding and those who receive. I now see that collectively, we are moving the needle to shift philanthropy, but it’s happening very slowly.
While I wish I’d entered on this path sooner, I am proud to now devote my career to giving circles because I believe this model is the most dynamic way to liberate capital to nonprofit leaders who know what solutions are best for their communities. Giving circles are filled with everyday givers coming together to diversify and democratize philanthropy. These are the voices that have historically been excluded by mainstream philanthropy and the voices that will break down these existing power dynamics and eliminate barriers to much-needed funding for grassroots leaders.
It’s like that line from the Indigo girls song: “The hardest to learn was the least complicated.” The hardest thing for philanthropy to learn is that equality must become a priority: gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ equality, and the list of those not included or given adequate resources and opportunities goes on. But instead, philanthropy keeps pointing elsewhere and saying, “Oh it’s a health care problem, oh it’s an education problem, oh it’s a workforce development problem.”
Our health care and education and workforce development problems often grow out of a firmly entrenched bedrock of equality problems. But the equality part of the story almost always gets minimized in philanthropy, almost always gets conveniently left out, almost always stays on the back burner. Ultimately, if you really look closely at what’s going on in philanthropy, you realize that philanthropy as a whole funds equality in mostly token ways — ways that never get at the root of the problem. As a result, equality remains a presumed cultural value that has no real mechanism for being realized on a broad scale. It’s a dream to talk about loftily and do some pilot programs on, and then get back to the serious business of running a society that worships and elevates the richest 1% to the grave detriment of everyone else.
Editor’s Note: The following essay by Dr. Susan M. Blaustein, Founder and Executive Director, WomenStrong International, discusses the transformational potential of #MeToo to empower change locally and globally.
In their remarkable new book Awakeningabout the global #MeToo movement, feminist scholars Rachel Vogelstein and Meighan Stone have shined a light on the courage, creativity, and resilience of women all over the world who have alchemized their pain as survivors of sexual violence into fierce, undaunted activism.
These brave women, from Brazil to Tunisia to Nigeria to Sweden and myriad places in between, have harnessed available digital technologies to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, connect with other women, sound the alarm loudly, and press for change. They’re fighting not only for victims’ safety in reporting these crimes and accountability for their perpetrators; enraged and emboldened, they’re aiming to institutionalize legal protections and disrupt the prevailing cultural and religious moraes that have long sanctioned violence against women in the first place.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving In Real Life series featuresElodie Read, Program and Community Partnerships Lead at Subak, the first global non-profit tech accelerator dedicated to combatting the climate emergency.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I’m pretty early on in my career so this is quite a tricky question to answer. At university and grad school, everyone is full of conviction, zeal and a healthy dose of naivety about how the world is and how it should be. When you start working, it can be easy to get bogged down in reality, but I think it’s important to remember why we got into this kind of work and to keep working with our values and goals at the front of our minds.