When I became interested in women’s philanthropy, one of the first questions I wanted to answer was about who started the funding of feminist-strategy giving. It was surprising and disheartening to learn that there were very few accounts of the history of women’s funding for women. So imagine my delight when I heard about the publication of Joan Marie Johnson’s book, Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870-1967. Her work in creating this history performs the desperately-needed public service of raising the profile of historical women who paved the way for gender equality, and a world where feminist leadership would set higher standards for civil society.Read More
I’ve been listening to Hillary Clinton’s What Happened in spurts over the past few days, and it’s time to start sharing some of the highlights. In her own voice on audio, Clinton speaks on a wide range of topics related to her political life. In particular, Clinton speaks with regret about taking speaking fees from large financial corporations and analyzes how the alt-right’s slandering the Clinton Foundation skewed the election.
I am now on Chapter 9, and this is when What Happened gets very relevant to philanthropy. I highly recommend listening to the book on audio — it really helps to have the words spoken by Hillary Clinton, who is destined for legendary status in the history of women’s advancement, whether she won the presidency or not.
From Hillary Clinton:
My life after leaving politics had turned out to be pretty great. I had joined Bill and Chelsea as a new Board member of the Clinton Foundation which Bill had turned into a major global philanthropy after leaving office. This allowed me to pursue my own passions and have an impact without all the bureaucracy and petty squabbles of Washington. I admired what Bill had built, and I loved that Chelsea had decided to bring her knowledge of public health and her private sector experience to the foundation, to improve its management, transparency, and performance, after a period of rapid growth.
At the 2002 International AIDS conference in Barcelona, Bill had a conversation with Nelson Mandela about the urgent need to lower the price of HIV/AIDS drugs in Africa and across the world. Bill figured he was well positioned to help, so he began negotiating agreements with drug makers and governments to lower medicine prices dramatically and to raise the money to pay for it. It worked. More than 11.5 million people in more than 70 countries now have access to cheaper HIV AIDS treatment. Right now, out of everyone being kept alive by these drugs in developing countries around the world, more than half the adults and 75 percent of the children are benefiting from the Clinton Foundation’s work.
It is shocking to consider the real-world positive impact of the Clinton Foundation’s work, and the degree to which the alt-right’s skewed portrayal of the Clinton Foundation might have influenced public opinion during the election. Hearing Clinton speak about it, it becomes clear that more must be done to investigate what happened.
Clinton goes on to detail the extensive philanthropic work the Clinton Foundation does in improving nutrition and exercise in public schools, protecting endangered species, addressing climate change in the Caribbean, and more. Then, she talks about my favorite part. Read on:
When I joined the Foundation in 2013, I teamed up with Melinda Gates the Gates Foundation a to launch an initiative called No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project to Advance Rights and Opportunities for Women and Girls around the world. I also created a program called Too Small to Fail, to encourage reading, talking and singing to infants and toddlers, to help their brains develop and build vocabulary. […]
None of these programs had to poll well or fit on a bumper sticker; they just had to make a positive difference in the world. After years in the political trenches, that was both refreshing and rewarding.
I can imagine what a difference Clinton was experiencing as she spent more time with the Clinton Foundation and started to build her own sense of strategy into the organization’s mission. But her involvement with her own family’s foundation was destined to have devastating consequences to her political career.
I knew from experience that if I ran for president again, everything that Bill and I had ever touched would be subject to scrutiny and attack, including the foundation. That was a concern, but I never imagined that this widely respected global charity would be as savagely smeared and attacked as it was. For years, the foundation and CGI had been supported by republicans and democrats alike. Independent philanthropy watchdogs, Charity Watch, Guidestar, and Charity Navigator, gave the the Clinton Foundation top marks for reducing overhead and having a measurable, positive impact. […]
But none of that stopped brutal partisan attacks from raining down during the campaign.
I have written by the Foundation at some length because a recent analysis published in the Columbia Journalism Review showed that during the campaign, there was twice as much written about the Clinton Foundation as there was on any of the Trump scandals, and nearly all it was negative. That gets to me.
It gets to me, too. In a big way. It is a wrong that must be addressed by a full investigation into the media manipulation that skewed the election. It was nearly impossible to learn real information about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Even my 10 year old daughter was coming home from school with talking points for me about how Clinton’s emails needed to be more fully investigated.
Back to Hillary:
As Daniel Borochoff, the founder of Charity Watch put it, “If Hillary Clinton wasn’t running for President, the Clinton Foundation would be seen as one of the great humanitarian charities of our generation.”
That’s right. The fake news on the Clinton Foundation may have had a profound impact, given that there was twice as much of that fake news heaped on the American media consumer than any of the much more atrocious news stories about Donald Trump, including his sexual assault of a woman and his University’s fraudulent dealings.
I hope to share more about the book as I continue on, but there is no doubt that you should listen to it yourself. For what it’s worth, I also find listening to the book recharges my battery for making the democratic party a stronger entity. The urgency of the party’s need to take back the country in the next election has never felt so real. The book also renews my respect for Clinton and her life work. She is not a perfect human being, but she is a darn good one, and she would have made an excellent leader of our country.
Philanthropy Women will also publish a review of the book from Tim Lehnert in the coming weeks.
The storied fortunes of the Gilded Age are so closely associated with the men who made them that the wives who used that money to help society are often unknown. Wealthy women in the 19th century were expected to be little more than heir-producers and society hostesses.
But women such as Louise Whitfield Carnegie, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney did not spend their days merely updating the Social Register, getting fitted for sumptuous gowns, or meeting for luxurious, gossipy lunches. They also worked hard to make sure that their families’ fortunes—all built on the backs of the less fortunate—were used to help others. Wealthy 19th century women were not supposed to work outside the home, and they certainly had no financial need to do so. But these women expanded their limited roles through charitable work and in doing so created a new public role for women.Read More
Visit any historic property in the United States, and more than likely you’ll discover that women were responsible for its preservation. Though Americans often argue over what to preserve from our nation’s history, one thing remains clear: historic preservation is vital to understanding our nation’s past and forming our national identity. American women have played the main role in securing valuable historic properties to tell the story of the American past, and used political activism, philanthropy, and social networking to do so.
Let’s take a brief survey of just a few of the women’s groups and individual women involved in historic preservation.
Ann Pamela Cunningham: Historian Jill Teehan wrote that “historic preservationists universally credit Ann Pamela Cunningham, the woman who saved George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, as the chief architect of the historic preservation movement in the United States.” Cunningham heard about the dismal state of Mount Vernon in an 1853 letter from her mother, who wrote, “If the men of America have seen fit to allow the home of its most respected hero to go to ruin, why can’t the women of America band together to save it?” Cunningham then raised funds for its purchase and preservation through fairly new techniques such as newspaper appeals. She founded the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the first national women’s group, and the association that still manages Mount Vernon. Today, it is today the oldest private preservation organization in the United States.
Twenty Boston Women: The Old South Meeting House was the largest building in colonial Boston and was slated for demolition in 1876, until a now-anonymous group of women rallied to save it. Once a center of protest meetings during the Revolutionary era, the Meeting House had survived the Great Boston Fire of 1872 that destroyed 40 acres of the city’s downtown. It had fallen out of use as a church, but Boston women, convinced of the building’s historical value, rallied to preserve the building. The women enlisted such venerable Americans as abolitionist Wendell Phillips, philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and beloved author Louisa May Alcott. They raised $400,000 to preserve the building and opened it as one of the first history museums in the United States. According to the Old South Meeting House website, the efforts of these women resulted in “the first successful preservation effort in New England.”
Daughters of the American Revolution: Founded in 1890, the D.A.R. has had its share of controversy in the past, but is significant for its commitment to historic preservation. In fact, the D.A.R. is so famous for this work it’s even mentioned in the 1957 Broadway hit (and later film) The Music Man. This organization raises money for the preservation of important historical sites in the United States, including the U.S. Capitol Building, the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. It has also provided funding for monuments and statues across the country, and members often volunteer at historic sites. The organization promotes and encourages historic preservation by awarding the Historic Preservation Medal and Historic Preservation Recognition Award, which both recognize individuals engaged in significant preservation projects.
National Society of the Colonial Dames: For 125 years, the Colonial Dames have worked to preserve and restore artifacts from the colonial era, including historic homes, paintings, portraits, and rare examples of women’s needlework from the colonial era. One of its most famous contributions to historic preservation is the granite canopy that protects Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts, which is visited by thousands of tourists every year.
Helen Pitts Douglass: A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, longtime abolitionist Douglass was the second wife of Frederick Douglass, an advocate for women’s rights, and one of the first to recognize the importance of African American history. Their interracial marriage caused controversy across the United States and this resulted in her multi-year struggle with his children to gain control of Cedar Hill, the Washington, D.C. home they lived in. In 1900 she established the home as a memorial to Douglass’s life and work as a former slave and prominent abolitionist. She founded and supported the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association with lecture fees, and when she died the National Association of Colored Women raised funds to buy Cedar Hill. Today, the re-named Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is managed by the National Park Service.
Caroline Emmerton: Born into the richest family in Salem, Massachusetts, Emmerton learned the value of community service from her mother and was a lifelong philanthropist. In addition to the creation of the Seaman’s Association for Widows and Orphans, Emmerton was committed to historic preservation, and was almost solely responsible for the preservation of many properties in Salem, Massachusetts in the early 20th century, including the House of the Seven Gables. She was also a founding member for the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA), which later became Historic New England. Like many philanthropists, she not only raised money to fund these efforts but also donated large amounts of her own fortune to further public interest in America’s past.
Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy: The cultured and sophisticated wife of President John F. Kennedy overcame her natural shyness in order to take the White House from being a dowdy old government building to the impressive and historic home to presidents that we know today. With Winterthur Museum’s founder Henry Francis du Pont, she formed the White House Fine Arts Committee and raised awareness of the need for the White House’s renovation and preservation through carefully-designed media efforts, including a spread in Life Magazine and a televised tour of the White House. She relied heavily on historical scholarship and told Life reporter Hugh Sidey, “Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to redecorate it—a word I hate. It must be restored, and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.”
Hillary Clinton: The former First Lady, Senator, and first female presidential candidate from a major party has led successful efforts to preserve parts of America’s past. In 1998, while she was first lady, Clinton founded Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt, the first project of Save America’s Treasures and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in order to secure Val-Kill Cottage, the home of Eleanor Roosevelt, as a National Historic Site. She also secured a $10 million dollar donation from designer Ralph Lauren to pay for the preservation of the original Star-Spangled Banner, the nearly three-story flag that survived the attack on Fort Henry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write what is now our national anthem. At the time, it was the largest single corporate donation the Smithsonian had ever received. But Clinton also had a long-term vision for public collaboration in preserving American history. She stated, “We are not talking about just generous gifts, but also encouraging kindergartners to collect pennies to clean up the monument in the town square.”
This brief survey of the individual women and women’s groups that created the framework of historic preservation in the United States, including their efforts to raise necessary funds, demonstrates how vital the philanthropic work of American women has been to shaping our understanding of our nation’s history. This work continues, led by women such as Stephanie Meeks, the first woman president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As the current President and CEO of the National Trust, Meeks is especially committed to preserving sites important to the history of American women.
Today, women still participate in and lead preservation efforts in their own communities. Fundraising for such efforts is a great opportunity for girls and women’s groups, and helps increase society’s awareness of the role of women in our historical development.
A massive defunding for women’s health care is now under consideration in the United States Senate. All told, it represents billions of dollars annually that will come straight out of primarily women’s wallets.
You may not usually think of the federal government as a philanthropic institution. Yet from our country’s start, congressional acts have subsidized various segments of the population and for a variety of reasons. Take the 1792 Postal Act. A spirited debate went on in the second session of Congress, over maintaining access to information. That Congress voted to create low postal rates for newspapers and to improve roads by creating postal routes to ensure expansion and development of our fledgling country, rather than solely serve existing communities. Americans still benefit from reduced media postal rates today.
The proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) put forth by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the 115th Session is an entirely different matter. It will adversely impact the finances of women – particularly poor women and women of color, and all rural people, especially women. By cutting off funding – just so the wealthy 1% can get tax breaks – American adult women, 126 million strong, will again have to shell out of pocket money for all kinds of basic health care or forego health services, often to the detriment of their own well-being and the well-being of their families. People will die as a result of this bill. The greater proportion of those deaths will be women.
Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated it succinctly, “It is outrageous that a group of men are negotiating to make it harder for women to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to have a healthy pregnancy and harder to raise a healthy child.”
The Impact on Medicaid
The Better Care Reconciliation Act proposes gigantic cuts in Medicaid, rolling back the expansions that were put in place by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. An estimated $772 Billion will be siphoned off from this program that benefits low income people. This impacts 25 million women in the US, who are 36% of the Medicaid beneficiaries. Their children, under age 18, are another 44% of Medicaid recipients. Over the first 10 years of this proposed bill the deep cuts into medicaid are expected to be 25%, but in the 2nd decade starting after 2027, the cuts go far deeper to 35%.
These Medicaid cuts threaten rural hospitals. Simply, many will close. As a group, 14% of their budgets come through medicaid reimbursements for their services.
Though not named, criteria specifically targets Planned Parenthood for the chopping block, however, at present, only for one year. This vital health service agency provides everything from cancer screenings to birth control. It has historically served one in five women in America. Planned Parenthood would be denied reimbursement, like other health care agencies, for the low income women, who comprise over 50 percent of their patients. In 2015 Planned Parenthood affiliates received $553.7 million in government reimbursements and grants for services. This means some 2.4 million women who regularly use the 600 Planned Parenthood facilities across America will no longer have access to these vital services.
Many conservative lawmakers claim women can as easily be served by other existing clinics.“…[Community health centers] are vastly bigger in network, there are so many more of them, and they provide these kinds of services without all of the controversy surrounding this [abortion] issue,” touted House Speaker Paul Ryan in January. But a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that these other community clinics could not make up for the flood of uninsured patients to their doors.
Further, in an investigation by Rewire, numerous of these clinics are religious in affiliation and fail to offer a full range of reproductive health care. They restrict family planning. So, in fact they are both in contradiction to the services offered at Planned Parenthood clinics and fail to adhere to the tenets of the ACA.
Being Female, A Pre-existing Condition
The Senate’s BCRA bill, like the House’s version, the AHCA, avoids outright omissions of the essential success of the Affordable Health Act. That is the inclusion of all people in health insurance despite so-called pre-existing conditions. Prior to the ACA women universally had to pay higher premiums solely due to their sex as a pre-existing condition.
The BCRA and the AHCA theoretically keep pre-existing conditions. But the laws pass the political buck to states to allow for waivers that effect various types of pre-existing conditions. “Because they [the states] are closer to the public’s health needs,” numerous Congressional supporters of the two bills disingenuously claim, the states can make the decision on how to handle pre-existing conditions.
But combined with all the fiscal cuts, many states will be hard pressed to shoulder the costs related to pre-existing conditions. Instead, the public will get a hodge-podge of programs that will make some states semi-bright beacons of partial health coverage and others wilting lilies where poor citizens are on the hook personally for the high and rising costs of health care that they cannot afford. This dynamic will have larger ramifications on the impact of businesses to attract workers and other developments and programs within certain states. It is a far cry from the 1792 Postal Act. Or Obamacare.
People of color in larger numbers have historically lacked insurance. The ACA started to close that gap, though there is far more to go. The Groundswell Fund and Ms. Foundation for Women are two foundations that for decades have supported women of color health groups addressing these disparities. It is from these groups that new theoretical frameworks and progressive advancements like Reproductive Justice have emerged and that, in turn, have impacted the international health community.
Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of Ms. Foundation said, “The bill is called The Bettercare Act but it will only result in worse care for women of color. [ It ] siphons resources to pay for yet another tax cut for rich white men. It’s clear women of color are in Conservatives’ anti-woman, pro-billionaire crosshairs with this bill, but women of color won’t stand for it. We are literally fighting for our survival.”
The Impact on Birth Control
Not until 1965 did birth control become legal. State laws prohibiting it were struck down that year in Griswold v. Connecticutt by the Supreme Court.
Post 1965, with oral contraceptives available since 1961, almost three generations of sexually active women have practiced birth control. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, contraceptions make up an estimated 30-44% of out-of-pocket spendingfor their health care by sexually active women. The ACA recognizes the unique health needs of women throughout their lifespan. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) created a set of guidelines for women’s care. This includes contraception. An estimated $1.4 billion in the first year alone of Obamacare was saved by 55 million women because they had access to birth control through copayments in their health insurance.
Despite 71% of the US population being in favor of full coverage of birth control, the current administration is not listening. The BCRA does not directly strike down the birth control provision, but already rumors are afoot that the Tom Price lead Health and Human Services Department is about to do away with a component of the benefit.
The first line of attack on this widely acceptable copay is based on religious and moral grounds. In a leaked rule, the Trump administration may be poised to significantly roll back birth control through the ACA. Building on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, it would allow any employer or university to deny coverage based on their beliefs. Religious and moral grounds of women are obliterated. Also, there seems to be an attempt to bypass the mandated 60-day public comment period.
$200 Billion in Incentives Luring Senators to Pass BCRA
Women are primary caregivers, tending to the upbringing of children and caring for aging parents. The majority of this work is unpaid labor. Women’s reproductive organs warrant greater health care. Combined, these factors mean women interact with health care providers far more frequently than men. Cutting funds for some of the most essential health needs of women as provided in the ACA is a direct slap in the face to 51% of the US population.
McConnell’s pulling of the BCRA just before the Fourth of July recess was momentary. To understand better the horse trading that the Senate Majority Leader has at his disposal to get Senators on board his health care train wreck, long time Hill correspondent, Michael McAuliff, has written an especially informative article. Hint, the reporter calls it “Candy”. While he makes no mention of women per se, McAuliff explains how the Majority Leader has about $200 billion worth of incentives at his disposal. That’s our tax money at play, being used as inducements to decimate our health care systems.
Gloria Feldt, who for thirty years worked with Planned Parenthood, ten years as President and CEO of the Federation, and is now co-founder of Take The Lead Women, summed it up this way: “Families who thought their company plans would cover a new child’s birth may find themselves paying a very high premium just to have coverage–and then be bankrupted by devastating costs if there are complications of pregnancy or birth. [The BCRA creates] high profits for insurance companies. Now that’s about as foolish a piece of legislation as you can get.”Read More
For Helen LaKelly Hunt, three central passions drive her work: funding for gender equality, changing the culture of intimate relationships, and rethinking the historical roots of American feminism. These three passions all come together in a new way with the publication of her latest book.
“Jennifer Baumgardner gets much credit. After all, she published this book,” said Helen, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. “And as a result of Jennifer’s passion, I always remind her, this book has two mothers.” Baumgardner is the Publisher at The Feminist Press, which released Helen’s book this past May.Read More
Tracy Gary says she starts every day as a “grateful activist.” That’s a good way to approach the morning, and an attitude that infuses the 66-year old Gary’s now 40-year career as philanthropy advisor, non-profit leader, donor and consultant.
A founder of nearly two dozen non-profits, Gary heads Unleashing Generosity and Inspired Legacies, and is on the road 40 days per year working with non-profits, foundations, and donors. That’s down from the 200 days away from home she used to log, but in the last few years she has reduced her workload (which used to run to 60-80 hours per week) and dropped 100 pounds. It’s a matter of staying healthy, and staying on the planet, so that she can continue mentoring the next generation of inheritors and philanthropy professionals.Read More
American women have not generally been celebrated for their philanthropic activity, so it shouldn’t be surprising that African-American female philanthropists are especially invisible in contemporary culture.
But that wasn’t always the case. In the early 20th century, African-American women were engaged in a literal battle for survival in a segregated and violently racist nation. One African- American woman, however, managed to go from being a laundress who sometimes earned less than one dollar a day to becoming one of the first self-made female millionaires in the United States. Her name was Sarah Breedlove, but she was known far and wide as Madam C. J. Walker, the founder of a hair care empire and a noted philanthropist. Walker used her fortune to champion the YMCA, the Tuskegee Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other important civic and educational organizations.Read More
If you spend time reading about women and philanthropy, you will invariably come across Helen LaKelly Hunt. Along with her sister, Swanee Hunt, these two feminist philanthropists are major players in the women’s funding movement, which hit the big leagues in the past decade as high-net-worth women began to make gifts of over $1 million dollars to fund causes for women and girls.
While researching for her dissertation on the origins of American feminism, Hunt discovered that 19th century women didn’t fund the suffrage movement. Instead, they funded things like their husband’s alma maters, churches (where they had no voice) and the arts. Years later, when women began pledging and making million-dollar gifts to women’s funds, Hunt captured that history in a book called the Trailblazer book, which was circulated to other women donors. This compilation of women’s testimonies helped catalyze the founding of Women Moving Millions.Read More