Editor’s Note: This article is Part Four in our four-part Activating Philanthropy series. In this series, we explore ways to bring your philanthropic ideals into your everyday life, activating the lessons we’ve learned along the way. For the rest of the series, check out Part One: Philanthropy in Daily Routines, Part Two: How to Call Your Congresswoman, and Part Three: Talking to Family Members About Giving.
We’re almost finished with our Activating Philanthropy series! Thanks for joining us for this four-week series on activating philanthropy in your everyday life. Now that we’ve covered the basics, we’re tying everything together with one of the simplest and most effective forms of collaborative philanthropy: the giving circle.
New England International Donors (NEID) held their annual Gala on April 8th, virtually of course. This gathering of international philanthropists was to celebrate the incredible work accomplished by the cohort throughout 2020. NEID is a rapidly growing community of engaged individuals and organizations whose aim is to “address the world’s big problems” by “living and giving boldly.”
Their mission is to learn from one another, join forces, and through this strategic network of collaboration, tackle inequity, climate change, and many of the world’s challenges that would’ve been insurmountable otherwise. This community is effective, to say the least, as around 45% of their members collaborate on projects together and 30% of their network support projects discovered directly through NEID.
In a recent episode of Flashpoint Podcast with Cherri Gregg, Kiersten Marek joined women’s philanthropy leaders to discuss the power of women’s giving and the research showing that women philanthropists are more giving than men, and their strategy is often quite different.
In a recent episode by the Flashpoint podcast, the role of women in Philanthropy was discussed with three key members of the community. The podcast panel, led by Cherri Gregg talked about the impact of women philanthropists and how they stack up against their male counterparts.
Kiersten Marek, social worker and founder of Philanthropy Women, was accompanied by Mary Broach, the co-founder of Impact100 Philadelphia and Mary Bentley LaMar, the North Atlantic Regional director of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
On Thursday, March 19th, team members from Empatthy and a robust panel of speakers gathered online to celebrate the growing women’s giving circle movement in Latin America. Featuring Jeannie Sager (Women’s Philanthropy Institute), Carmen Stevens and Sondra Shaw-Hardy (Women’s Giving Circles International), Sara Lomelin (Philanthropy Together), and Rosa Madera (Fundadora Empatthy), the event was half celebration, half lively discussion of the future of collaborative giving in the Latin American region.
Juan Carlos Diaz Bilbao (BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network), the day’s moderator, introduced the event with thanks to the attendees, participants, and sponsors making the event possible.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series featuresElisabeth Williams, Founder of AWE Partners, LLC, a social impact advisory firm that educates female entrepreneurs and executives on how to bake mission into their life and business for more passion, purpose, and profit.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I wish I had known that there was a way to blend all of my passions and turn it into a career.
I studied business in undergrad and then went on to pursue my MBA. I loved business, but I was also passionate about making a difference in the world. At the time I was in the corporate world, back in the late 80s and 90s, there wasn’t as much opportunity to merge profit and purpose. And there certainly wasn’t as much of a concern for people and the planet! I wish I had known that I had it within me to create something new – a new way forward.
As women’s global wealth continues to rise, philanthropists are turning toward an exciting new era of female empowerment and intelligent grantmaking in feminist philanthropy. At The Ruderman Family Foundation, a Massachusetts-based grantmaking entity devoted to disability inclusion and strengthening the Jewish community in the United States and abroad, leadership sits in the hands of two powerful and committed women: Sisters-in-law Sharon Shapiro and Shira Ruderman.
“Choosing a mission is based on values,” says Shira Ruderman, Executive Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “My Jewish values and who we are as people are have a great impact on choosing the topics you want to work on and how you want to conduct your business and philanthropy. We concentrated in the last 18 years on inclusion of people with disabilities and strengthening the relationship between American Jewry and the State of Israel. We believe in strategic philanthropy and do our best to lead through best practices.”
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.