Dalios Critique Capitalism, Give $100 Million to Public Schools

Image: Barbara Dalio reads to kindergarten students in a Connecticut public school. (Image Credit: @DalioEducation on Twitter)

A recent announcement of a gift from Dalio Philanthropies to Connecticut’s public schools brings Barbara Dalio’s work in education into the spotlight. She’s a hands-on philanthropist and the wife of Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the most successful hedge funds in the U.S. The wealth of these Giving Pledge signatories is estimated at more than $18 billion.

As part of a public-private partnership to support disengaged youth in public schools, the Dalios and the state government of Connecticut will each give $100 million toward a new $300 million project. They call on other philanthropists and business leaders to contribute the remaining third during the next five years. The Dalio’s gift is the largest known philanthropic donation to benefit the state of Connecticut to date.

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Power Up! Women Collective Givers Meet In Washington, 2020

Image: Catalist members Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Laura Midgley, Colleen Willoughby, Jenny Berg, Paula Liang, Virginia Mills, Susan Benford and Hali Lee (Photo credit: Catalist)

Big news for giving circle members and fans: The Catalist 2020 National Conference will be held from Feb. 23 to the 25 in Seattle, Washington. Catalist is a network and umbrella organization for women’s collective-giving grantmaking organizations. The conference will be hosted at the Motif Hotel by the Washington Women’s Foundation (WaWF), a Catalist member organization that will be celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The WaWF is a fitting host for the 2020 conference, because it was launched by Catalist founding board member Colleen Willoughby in 1995. And, in 2009, Willoughby brought together collective giving leaders from across the U.S., spurring the creation of the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN), now Catalist.

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Why Feminist Philanthropy Matters

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, editor and publisher of Philanthropy Women, discusses the past, present, and future of PW.

Quite a lot has happened in just a year’s time here at Philanthropy Women. We thought it would be helpful to let readers know about how this initiative is changing and evolving.

The impact of Philanthropy Women has increased significantly. Now in our second year, our writers, including myself, are more experienced and able to explore subjects more deeply and make more connections. Our amplification of content on social media has also increased. We are receiving more requests for media coverage, and our content has been sought for republication on high visibility venues. We have been able to attract top talent for writers, including Julia Travers, Laura Dorwart, Maggie May, and Tim Lehnert.

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The Butterfly Effect: Tracking the Growth of Women’s Funds

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute released a new report today, detailing the landscape of women’s funding in the U.S. (Image credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute)

Today, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released a new report called, “Women’s Foundations and Funds: a Landscape Study.” It presents a range of updated data and new insights into a major branch of women’s philanthropy — one that has grown significantly over the last few decades. It follows up on a report of a similar nature in 2009 that focused on organizations within the Women’s Funding Network (WFN), but this newer study widened its scope beyond that particular philanthropic community. Elizabeth M. Gillespie, doctoral candidate at the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, authored the report, and it was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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We Are Unstoppable: Giving Circles Organize Into a Movement

Marcia Quinones, member of East Bay Latina Giving Circle. (Photo credit: Latino Community Foundation)

Giving circles bring people together to practice collective philanthropy. In the same spirit, representatives of giving circles and giving circle networks across the U.S. are now convening to build power. In April 2019, 82 members of dozens of giving circles in the U.S. met for two days in Seattle, Washington, to share stories, hopes and plans for building a stronger giving circle movement. Women are playing a leading role in these efforts.

Giving Circles Grow and Set Goals

Giving circles allow friends, neighbors, families and people with religious, civil, cultural and other connections to learn about issues of shared concern and decide where to donate their money. They are usually created by women and/or members of ethnic minority, LGBTQ or other marginalized groups — those who typically hold a lesser share of power and money in the U.S. — though many open their doors to anyone with common values. Women make up most of their members.

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WPI Study: What Influences Men Vs. Women to Give to Gender Equality?

WPI’s new report has important implications for both fundraising and the role of philanthropy media in spotlighting gender equality giving.

The phenomenon of watching others do something before we do it ourselves: it’s a process that seems hard-wired into humans. And in fact, prior research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy shows that when we see others giving to charity, we are more inclined to engage in that same giving behavior ourselves.

Now, new research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute investigates how the process of observing giving behavior in others plays out differently for men and women, particularly when they are considering making a donation to women and girls.

Takeaway for Fundraisers: Men Need to See Men Giving

This new research, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, uncovered a significant gender difference: women only need to see other women as role models in order to be influenced toward gender equality giving, whereas men need to see both men and women as role models in order to be influenced toward the behavior.

“Women’s and girls’ organizations and fundraisers in general can use this research to take concrete action to increase their fundraising,” said Debra J. Mesch, Ph.D., the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

One solution to this problem: showcase men giving to women’s and girls’ causes alongside women. This research suggests that fundraising professionals can potentially reach more male donors by featuring testimonials and donor stories from men about their decision to fund women’s and girls’ causes.

The study also notes that fundraisers across philanthropy would do well to apply this finding to any other group of donors that may not be giving to their fullest capacity. The research validates that testimonials and donor spotlights on a diverse range of givers may help more people envision themselves as givers to any cause. “Apply this ‘visibility’ strategy to any group that typically gives less frequently to your organization,” advises the infographic that accompanies the report.

Implications for Philanthropy Media: Showcase Diverse Givers of All Genders and Backgrounds

This study affirms that having visible role models is key for any social movement. As more stories of gender equality giving make it into the mainstream media, more people are able to find role models to envision themselves giving in this way. While publishers in the philanthropy sector like The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Inside Philanthropy all cover gender equality giving, it would be helpful if they shared more stories that feature a wider range of givers to gender equality, so that the public has more examples of how different people arrive at gender equality giving as a priority.

Takeaway for Feminist Philanthropy Media (Like Us!): Keep Sharing Stories of Gender Equality Giving 

The reports speaks to the role that social media sites like Facebook and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe play in increasing the visibility of people giving. We here at Philanthropy Women would argue that another important part of the landscape for social visibility and discourse around feminist philanthropy is specialized publishing on the subject. Many philanthropy media sites feature stories of gender equality giving, but Philanthropy Women is the only publication specifically dedicated to profiling this uniquely powerful work.


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Support Journalism about Feminist Philanthropy by Subscribing to PW

Please support journalism about feminist philanthropy by subscribing to Philanthropy Women.

Dear Readers,

I have good news: Philanthropy Women continues to flourish and gain momentum. Our readership continues to grow and our traffic is about 40% higher on average than it was a year ago. Our visibility is also growing, and our premium access subscriber base is beginning to generate income that allows us to expand what we are doing.

Now we are reaching out to you, dear readers, and asking for you to become premium access subscribers. Our ability to become sustainable in the long-term will depend on building a diverse subscriber base. By becoming a subscriber, you will help fund our work and the feminist community. You will have access to all of our content, including exclusive interviews with top funders and thought leaders in the gender equality philanthropy field. Your support will also be helping us sustain our mission of showcasing the exciting and evolving landscape of feminist philanthropy.

Visit Our Subscriber Page!

Whether we’re writing about how Promundo is engaging men as allies, or showing how the Harnisch Foundation’s Funny Girls is inspiring tween girls to become fierce leaders, or profiling the landscape of funders supporting sexual abuse prevention, here at Philanthropy Women, we are continuously exploring the terrain of feminist philanthropy from many different directions.

Publishing Philanthropy Women is a labor of love, but we can’t do it without help from the community. Your support will mean we can produce more high quality journalism on the evolving field of gender equality giving. With your support, we will be able to help grow feminist philanthropy’s influence on local, national, and even global social policy and culture.

By supporting Philanthropy Women, you are helping to make visible the unique work of progressive women donors who are accelerating social change in powerful ways. Here is a link to the subscription page at Philanthropy Women. Thanks for your help!Read More

Priming the Pump: Exploring Ways to Grow Women’s Giving

Gender Matters by Kathleen E. Loehr explores how fundraisers can widen the aperture on their lens for approaching donors in order to maximize women’s giving.

Once you study women’s philanthropy for long enough, you begin to recognize that a confluence of events relating to women and giving are changing the philanthropy landscape in significant ways. One of the scholars who has studied women’s philanthropy and done this dot-connecting is Kathleen E. Loehr. In her new book, Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy, Loehr addresses the important question of how fundraisers and those committed to women’s giving can take specific actions that will increase women’s philanthropy – already an area of giving scheduled for a large uptick in the near future.

“It is time to rumble with our stories about women’s philanthropy,” says Loehr in the first chapter of the book, referencing a Brené Brown concept about rumbling with the truth to find the real story. In the introduction, Loehr describes a method for asking questions called Appreciative Inquiry, which “involves the art and practice of asking unconditionally positive questions” as a way to increase potential, by maximizing imagination and innovation in the responses being elicited. Loehr has written the book with an Appreciative Inquiry framework, which informs much of what Loehr recommends in terms of a strategy for approaching women donors.

In the book, Loehr combines the ideas of Appreciative Inquiry with an approach to leadership that works to align strengths in an organization, so that weaknesses are so insignificant that they are not even worth noticing. With these approaches in mind, Loehr starts with a call to look more closely at the data about the donors you are trying to reach. With specific examples guided by fundraising campaigns of colleges like Duke and William & Mary, Loehr demonstrates how a closer look at the data yielded a decision to shift fundraising approaches in order to collect the unharvested revenue of women’s giving.

But research is, of course, not enough. Loehr then provides guidance around how to create a high-quality action plan that will increase your donor engagement with women. In part two of the book, entitled Dream, Loehr invited readers into transformative reflection where they can “create a compelling mental picture of what is possible.”

By doing so, Loehr helps drive readers toward the next big step in carrying out their plan: declaring a vision. Through the process of declaring a vision, Loehr shows how intention is amplified, resulting in a stronger approach that will pull in donors, particularly women. Loehr also calls on fundraisers to build networking and collaboration into their vision, since research shows that women are more receptive to giving when they see themselves as joining with other women on a similar mission and participating in design of the project.

What Happens When We Ask Big Questions

Loehr is particularly adept at providing questions in the book that will “prime the pump,” to so speak.  She recommends questions that help prospective women donors articulate their own experiences with giving so that fundraisers can fully engage in appreciating those experiences and use them to create that compelling mental picture that will grow women’s support. Here is a small sample of some of those positive, open-ended questions you can pose to donors about their past giving experiences:

  • What has been your most exciting experience in giving? It does not need to be related to this organization.
  • Tell me the story. What happened?
  • What enabled this gift? What role did you play? What role did the organization play? What role did the staff person play in relationship to this experience?
  • What else made this experience possible?

Loehr suggests that asking these questions help women donors contextualize their giving experience and focus their attention on remembering what that experience was like for them. While such an approach might sound obvious, it is not in the old playbook of “best practices” for development and fundraising professionals.

Loehr also highlights significant research for guiding the ongoing donor-grantee relationship, including how much to communicate with women donors. “It is unlikely that women will feel they are getting too much communication,” writes Loehr, a research-based insight that is important to keep in mind when redesigning fundraising campaigns with women more in mind.

Gender Matters is an important new resource for those who see the potential for women’s giving to influence both philanthropy and civil society as a whole.  The guide will help readers notice their own assumptions and how they might be driving their behavior, so they can imagine and explore better ways to reach women as philanthropists.

Learn more about Gender Matters here.


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A Novel About a Feminist Foundation: How Interesting is That?

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer takes readers into the world of feminist philanthropy, and captures powerfully the dilemmas and difficulties of the work. (Cover: Riverhead Books. Author photo: Nina Subin)

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.


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Good News: Philanthropy Women is in the Top 40 Philanthropy Blogs!

It’s always nice to be recognized. This morning I  learned that Philanthropy Women made the Feedspot Top 40 list for philanthropy blogs. 

The criteria for being chosen for this list are as follows:

The Best Philanthropy Blogs are chosen from thousands of Philanthropy blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.

These blogs are ranked based on following criteria:

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Many of my favorite resources for philanthropy are on this list, including CEP Blog, Philanthropy News Digest, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and HistPhil. Also featured are some international, family, and community blogs that I will definitely need to check out.



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