When it comes to maximizing our financial impact, there is often an “either/or” approach to leveraging wealth. Do we use our dollars to fund a philanthropic effort, like a campaign or organization dedicated to women and girls, or do we turn our funds toward investment opportunities, like supporting companies with a strong commitment to diversity?
As new forms of giving spring up to meet the challenges — and opportunities — of a digital society, we are able to move further away from that attitude of “either/or.” There are ways to stretch our donor dollars further — through two types of collectives that maximize impact.
In the same ways that traditional philanthropy has been historically dominated by white, older, high net worth men, feminist philanthropy has a noticeable population gap in younger age groups. Young women, in particular, in an era of crushing student loans, underemployment, and uncertainty in the face of COVID-19, are noticeably absent from a movement dedicated to their wellbeing.
This is not to say that the younger generations aren’t pulling their weight. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Young activists like Greta Thunberg and Sarah Goody are leading the way to revolutions in social justice and culture change. LGBT+ and POC youth are standing vanguard against discrimination, homophobia, and rollbacks of minorities’ legal rights.
On Wednesday, February 3rd, Philanthropy Together hosted the second part of their webinar series surrounding giving circles and social justice. Moderated by LiJia Gong of Radfund, the panel featured Sarah David Heydemann (Radfund), Mario Lugay (Justice Funders Giving Side), Marsha Morgan (Community Investment Network), and Sian Miranda Singh ÓFaoláin.
Sara Lomelin, Executive Director of Philanthropy Together, introduced the day’s moderator and panelists, and encouraged attendees to share their locations and organizations.
The Social Justice Giving Circle Project
Gong began by introducing The Social Justice Giving Circle Project, which explores the relationship between giving circles and today’s social justice movements, both how it currently exists and what’s possible in the future.
If you’ve wanted to form an impact circle but aren’t sure how to get started, Invest for Betterhas the program for you. Applications are now open for the Spring 2021 Cohort of Invest for Better’sCircle Leader program. Kicking off on February 11th, this free training program offers the resources and know-how for women to form, lead, and grow their own impact investing circles.
Invest for Better is a national initiative aimed at helping women demystify impact investing, take control of their capital and mobilize their money for good. It is non-profit and non-transactional, designed to address the “aspiration gap” between women’s interest and their action by overcoming obstacles to participation, and building trusted peer communities.
Bright and early on Wednesday, January 27th, women from all over the country joined Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Carmen Stevens of Women’s Giving Circles International (WGCI) for a collaborative workshop on collective giving.
Sondra opened the event by welcoming the attendees and speakers, and introducing the day’s topics.
“The power of women’s philanthropy has changed not only the countries we live in, but changed us as well,” she said.
Carmen Stevens on Global Giving Circles
Carmen Stevens introduced the history of WGCI, which works to provide educational resources for women all over the world looking to start and grow their own giving circles. Primarily focused on circles outside of the United States, WGCI facilitates circle creation, networking, and mentorship all over the globe, but particularly in Latin America, Europe, and the organization’s most recent programs in Asia.
On December 17, international funding powerhouse Women Moving Millions released their annual impact report, showcasing the organization’s work toward a gender-equal world over the past year. The report also includes WMM’s multi-pronged approach to the future, including the goal to double their financial impact by 2025.
Since its founding in 2007, Women Moving Millions has committed nearly $800 million to organizations supporting women and girls. The organization thrives as a collaborative group of 340+ high-net worth women around the world, all pledged to donate at least $1 million during their lifetimes.
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a new nearly two million dollar grant whose goal is to “advance actionable, global research on women’s giving to inform and equip donors and nonprofits.”
The funding will fuel WPI’s ongoing research on domestic and global women’s giving, and empower organizations, donors and fundraisers to put these research insights into practice. Since 2015, WPI has conducted research on gender and philanthropy that helps inform the foundation’s Giving By All initiative, which is focused on growing giving and helping donors give more effectively and strategically.
On July 16, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute hosted a live Q&A with Sara Lomelin of Philanthropy Together, to discuss the ways philanthropy can be democratized, empowered, and fueled by diversity. In light of current pressing issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19, WPI and Philanthropy Together seek to answer the question, “How can giving circles transform the future of trust-based giving?”
WPI Director Jeannie Sager kicked off the conversation by encouraging the participants to share their locations – people chimed in from all over the US and beyond.
Sager introduced the concept: “For too long, philanthropy has been seen as an exclusive club. Yet today, our country is experiencing a drastic reckoning… Who is called a philanthropist?”
By any measure, giving circles are one of the biggest growth areas in philanthropy. It’s no accident that giving circles are heavily female, and women of color are involved in giving circles at much higher rates than they are in traditional modes of philanthropic giving.
A simple giving circle definition from Philanthropy Together: “Giving Circles are groups of all shapes and sizes collaborating for change: like-minded individuals come together to pool their funds, share and discuss the issues that matter to them, and decide together where to give their money, time, and talents.” Giving circles enable individuals to leverage modest individual donations into a critical mass. They are by definition participatory, and the power of the collective provides individuals greater input and influence than were they giving in isolation.
Philanthropy Together places special emphasis on the role of traditionally underrepresented communities, noting:
Another Giving Tuesday is one for the books! According to the organization that created the international day of generosity, this year’s online and offline donations crushed a monumental milestone: almost $2 billion in donations in the United States alone, with $511 million in online donations.
“Generosity is a core trait and value that brings people of all races, faiths, and political views together,” said Asha Curran, Co-founder and CEO of GivingTuesday. “GivingTuesday creates a shared space where we can see the radical implications of a more generous world.”