On October 17th, 2019, the Women’s Foundation of California (WFoC) celebrated its fortieth anniversary with a major announcement: the organization pledged $40 million to gender justice, and began its groundbreaking campaign to raise the funds to facilitate another forty years of gender justice grantmaking.
Less than a month later, the WFoC is more than halfway to its goal of $40 million. This stunning fundraising effort is the result of a steadfast community of donors, supporters, and activists, which the Foundation has built over forty years of campaigning for social change.
The annual Women in Games European Conference kicked off in London on September 11, facilitating a conversation the games development industry has been itching to have since 2014.
Sexual harassment, assault, and unhealthy work environments for women, nonbinary individuals, and other marginalized communities are all far too common in gamedev. In recent years, allegations of harassment and assault have come to light, leading to major restructuring decisions from games industry giants like news sources Polygon and IGN, and developer Bethesda.
On August 20, 2019, an initiative to connect and catalyst the field of giving circles announced their intention to donate $32,000 to collective giving organizations. The funds, distributed in thirteen microgrants ranging from $500 to $5,000, will go toward circles and networks that “showcase, scale, strengthen, and sustain the field of collective giving.
This initiative is born out of a yearlong co-design process spearheaded by the organizations Amplifier, Asian Women’s Giving Circle, Catalist, Community Investment Network, and Latino Community Foundation.
Members of the feminist giving community: An upcoming webinar co-led by Helen LaKelly Hunt could be the perfect opportunity to learn some new skills for healthier relationships.
Relationships First and the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) are joining forces next month for Safe Conversations: Shifting from Domination to Partnership in Relationship. Held 11:00 – 12:30 PR (2:00 – 3:30 ET) on Thursday, September 12th, 2019, this FREE webinar focuses on the ways people can improve their relationships through quality communication skills.
The Tegan and Sara Foundation, founded by the eponymous indie/folk/pop musical duo, has partnered with shoemaker Teva to launch a limited-edition, multi-colored sandal to support the LGBTQ+ community. The elevated rainbow sandal celebrates Pride Month, and Teva will donate a portion of sales to the Tegan and Sara Foundation (TSF).
TSF “fights for health, economic justice and representation for LGBTQ girls and women.” Launched in 2016 on a commitment to feminism and racial, social and gender justice, TSF is in solidarity with other organizations fighting for LGBTQ and women’s rights. The Foundation raises awareness and funds to address the inequalities currently preventing LGBTQ girls and women from reaching their full potential.
The 23-person field vying for the Democratic nomination for president includes six women: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard and Marianne Williamson. Two of them (Harris and Warren) are seen as having decent odds of taking the nomination, while Klobuchar is a potential dark horse.
But will these women be torpedoed by press coverage that holds them to a different standard than their male counterparts? The women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet Action says that is a very real danger, and decries the sexist coverage so far exhibited by the mainstream media.
Here’s some good news for global feminist donors, particularly those focused on giving for LGBTQ issues. The Thomson Reuters Foundation – the charitable arm of the global news and information provider – has won funding for more media reporting on marginalized populations, as an award from the People’s Postcode Lottery, a UK-based organization that devotes “a minimum of 32% from each subscription” to charities and causes in Great Britain and around the globe.
The Foundation has received a £400,000 ($523,560 US Dollars) grant from the Postcode Heroes Trust, to expand its reporting on social justice issues related to labor and sex trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, as well as LGBTQ rights. These funds will be particularly focused on increasing media coverage of these topics in Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa.
The NoVo Foundation is one of the largest private foundations to advocate for gender equality and has specifically focused much of its funding on reducing violence against girls and women globally. In their most recent initiative, the Radical Hope Fund, the foundation donated $34 million in grants to 19 different organizations around the world.
The Radical Hope Fund began as a response to the 2016 election. Seeing the increase in attacks on women and girls as well as LGBTQ populations, immigrants, people of color, and refugees, the foundation felt compelled to take action in a new, bolder way. Thus, the Radical Hope Fund was born, initially pledging to donate $20 million to selected grantees, but eventually deciding to deepen that commitment to $34 million.
As Executive Director Pamela Shifman explains, “It’s an experiment — one that seeks to support new collaborations that are imaginative and focused on building the movements we need, not simply what we think is possible right now. Radical Hope aims for transformation rather than solely incremental change.”
Since inception in 2006, the NoVo Foundation has emphasized the way in which systemic change needs to evolve out of the communities affected by the problem. The NoVo Foundation reviewed over 1,000 applications to find the 19 best candidates for this new funding, particularly looking for organizations that are community-based and that bring transformational strategies to the table.
To help the public learn more about this new approach to grantmaking, NoVo also launched the Radical Hope Blog Series. This will allow partners of NoVo’s Radical Hope grantmaking to document their work, share what they have learned, and grow their audiences and support teams.
The 19 grantees NoVo selected all have strong agendas, and many have already accomplished significant work for women. One of these is the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), a grant-making foundation that works to support women and women’s organizations in Africa, moving closer to gender equality in the process. The mission of AWDF is guided by five main values: Respect: A basic respect for human rights of all African women; Diversity: An allegiance to non-discrimination and inclusiveness; Feminist Leadership: A dedication to upholding feminist principles and ethics; Professionalism, Accountability and Stewardship: A commitment to be transparent and prudent in administering funds; and Solidarity and Partnerships: A determination to link with other organizations to effect change.
AWDF’s initiative, the Flourish Project, for which they received $985,090, will strengthen feminist movements across Africa. Over the next three years, the Flourish Project plans to accomplish several goals. These goals include inspiring the next generation to be strong proponents of feminism. The initiative also plans to collaborate with AIR, an African professional network addressing trauma and mental health, to implement a pilot model that will allow stressed African feminist leaders to take leave to reflect and heal. The Flourish Project will also work on making connections between feminist activists and organizations working locally and nationally with the African Feminist Forum.
Another grantee is Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, a social justice organization working on gender equality and rights for women on local, regional, and international levels. This organization has worked for over 20 years to make allies in the movement for gender equality across the globe. Much of their work is focused on decreasing crimes against women and girls, providing support to survivors of violence, and helping women affected by HIV and AIDS.
Masimanyane’s project receiving support from the Radical Hope Fund is called International Network to End Violence Against Women and Girls. Novo’s grant will allow this program to continue and grow as it works alongside other organizations to increase awareness and about the problem of violence against women and girls. INEVAWG identifies failing state accountability as a major contributor to violence against women and will work with government systems to help address this failure. The project will also continue advocacy to increase society’s understanding of violence against women and other crucial issues of women’s well-being.
These two organizations, as well as Novo’s other grantee partners for Radical Hope, have done impressive work for women globally. The grantee partners appear to have clear missions and are taking many creative paths leading toward accomplishing those missions. Many of the grantee organizations also have strong connections with other partners and a commitment to core feminist values like diversity and transparency.
A novel about a feminist foundation is incredibly rare. A novel about a feminist foundation that is both compelling and reifying is even rarer still. I think it’s safe to say that The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer is the first of its kind: an adventure and social critique novel about feminist philanthropy.
At one point Faith Frank, the central feminist in the story, talks wearily about how saying the words “feminist foundation” usually causes most people to stop listening immediately. But as many of us know, some of the most important and fascinating work is happening in the gender equality funding sector. The Female Persuasion helps to elucidate this strange and powerful world where money and idealism collide.
The story follows the life of Greer Kadetsky, a young woman who discovers feminism through her best friend at college, Zee. Greer goes on to become so passionate about the work that she takes a job with her feminist idol, Faith Frank. Through Greer’s experience, we get to see a foundation for feminism in all its administrative imperfection and human foibles.
The book also explores the many and varied ways that people can live feminist lives. After a series of unfortunate events, Greer’s high school boyfriend, Cory, ends up living a different version of feminism, resigning himself to a life as a caretaker for his mother. And at one point, Zee reflects on her career as a trauma specialist for abused women, realizing that her feminism is the kind that doesn’t get special treatment or attention.
Meanwhile, Greer goes on to the Big Apple and takes a job with Loci, Faith Frank’s feminist foundation. Loci provides Greer with opportunities to be part of new forms of feminism, including rescuing girls from trafficking in Ecuador.
In The Female Persuasion, feminist women both empower each other and undermine each other, just like in real life. The story returns us to themes of weighing ethical compromise in the face of potential personal, and feminist movement, gains. We see story lines that show how women often end up feeling unable to lift up others, for fear of losing opportunities for themselves.
The story also reveals the moral compromises that those working in philanthropy face. The difficulties of seeing how the sausage sometimes gets made in philanthropy can be painful. In the case of Loci, the foundation featured in the book, they end up mismanaging some funds in the process of rescuing girls from trafficking in Ecuador. Loci decides to give the mentoring contract to a consultant recommended by the investment firm supporting them, and this consultant walks off with the funding for hiring mentors for the girls. Greer gets saddled with holding up the facade that a mentoring program actually happened.
Overall, the book is rich in exploring the difficulties of relationships, particularly in our current age with its new wave of feminism. I recommend it to anyone who works in feminism or gender equality giving, since it contains excellent food for thought.
With so much going on in women’s philanthropy, we love it when gender equality thought leaders come together to talk about where the movement for women’s rights has been, and where it’s going in the future.
Riffing on the 1970’s anthology edited by Robin Morgan entitled Sisterhood is Powerful, Union Theological Seminary, in partnership with The New York Women’s Foundation and the Feminist Press, are presenting a conversation on April 11th featuring longtime women’s philanthropy pioneer Helen LaKelly Hunt, and one of Third Wave feminism’s leading thinkers, Rebecca Walker. Hunt and Walker will be focusing the discussion on healing some of the divisions within feminism, particularly related to race and class. The goal of this event is to “offer tools to build an affirmative culture that can contain difference and meaningfully address white supremacy.”
Biographical notes on both of the speakers from the event page at Union Seminary:
Rebecca Walker is an American writer, feminist, and activist. Walker has been regarded as a prominent feminist voice since she published an article in 1992 in Ms. magazine in which she proclaimed, “I am the Third Wave.” Walker’s writing, teaching, and speeches focus on race, gender, politics, power, and culture. In her activist work, she co-founded the Third Wave Fund that morphed into the Third Wave Foundation, an organization that supports young women of color, queer, intersex, and trans individuals to find the tools and resources they need to be leaders in their communities through activism and philanthropy.
Helen LaKelly Hunt is one of a small army of women who helped to seed the women’s funding movement. She co-founded The Dallas Women’s Foundation, The New York Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions. She is the author of Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance and her latest release, And the Spirit Moved Them, shares the radical history of the abolitionist feminists. Her private foundation, The Sister Fund, focuses on faith, feminism and relationship, all three intrinsic to women’s wholeness. Helen was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2001. In addition, she has co-authored several books with her partner, Harville Hendrix, on Imago Relationship Therapy. They are now working to disseminate Safe Conversations, a new relational technology, that can help manifest the feminist vision to create a more relational culture.
Philanthropy Women will be there. We hope you will be there, too! To learn more about the event and register to attend, go here.