Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Firuzeh Mahmoudi, founder and executive director, United for Iran, a Bay area nonprofit that works to promote civil liberties and civil society in Iran.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
One thing I’ve learned, that continues to ring true year after year, is that progress rarely occurs along a straight line. So many of us who have been inspired to enter the activist community started out with the hope that we’d experience and affect real change in our chosen issue areas quickly. However, as I recently discussed in a piece written on the 11 year anniversary of Iran’s Green Movement, the work toward progress often starts when the buzz stops, when the media loses interest and moves to the next catchy soundbite. Those of us who’ve remained in the movement and are still active today know that if we want to be truly effective, the work has to become part of our daily lives.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Olivia Wells, Director of Programs and Communications for Nadia’s Initiative, a nonprofit founded by Nadia Murad that supports “community-driven and survivor-centric sustainable development programs.”
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
Bureaucracy; you learn about it in school, and you begin to see it when you enter the workforce but you don’t realize how many bureaucratic impediments there are to humanitarian work until you’re in the thick of it. You naively think that at the end of the day, we all want the same thing – to help those most vulnerable – so we should streamline processes to get those in need the help they deserve as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. The humanitarian sector is still saturated with top-down approaches to development. Many government and private funders insist on funding large organizations like the various UN entities, rather than investing in local NGOs. Local NGOs have a direct line to the communities they serve and are often able to implement projects more efficiently and for less money. These are the organizations we should be investing in.
On Thursday, November 19th, 2020, at 6:30 pm, The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture held a one-hour event with guest speakers Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt, Matrice Ellis-Kirk, and Jerry Hawkins. The discussion was centered on Hunt’s book, And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost Radical History of America’s First Feminists.
Larry Allums, Executive Director of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, welcomed viewers and discussed the auspiciousness of the event, given that this year is the Centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. He described Helen LaKelly Hunt as an important “discoverer and chronicler of the connection between abolitionist and women’s rights movements in American history.” He acknowledged Hunt as a “dear friend” to the Dallas Institute and recognized her contributions as part of an early group of women donors funding gender equality, noting that Hunt co-founded the Texas Women’s Foundation, the New York Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Funding Network, and Women Moving Millions.
2020 women donors may go down in history as having been the first class of women donors to drive massive political change in one election. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Joe Biden’s campaign for President saw a massive surge in funding, particularly from women, when he chose Kamala Harris as his running mate in August.
According to a report in CNN, the Biden-Harris ticket received over $33.4 million in itemized contributions from women in August, more than doubling the total amount of contributions from female donors the previous month of $13.7 million. In comparison, Trump’s campaign raised only $8.7 million from women in August.
(Nov. 12, 2020) — The Women’s Disinformation Defense Project, a coalition of gender and racial justice groups spearheaded by UltraViolet, that led a $1.2 million campaign to combat online disinformation about Kamala Harris in key battleground states, will not only remain active during the Biden Administration but will double down on their efforts.
What we saw during the campaign is just the warm up act. We know the attacks will only get worse and more prevalent as Harris becomes the first-ever woman and woman of color to occupy the Vice Presidency.
Specifically, the Women’s Disinformation Defense Project, which includes organizations like ACRONYM, BlackPAC, Color of Change PAC, EMILY’s LIST WOMEN VOTE!, GQR, Higher Heights Political Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Votes!, and SumOfUs will:
The question came up in my mind, and I see many other people have been tossing this question around in conversations online: What if only women voted in the 2020 election? Would it have been a much easier win for the Biden-Harris presidency?
2020 Election Results for Women Voters
The above graphic says it all. In the 14 states listed above and in many others, Biden would have won handily.
UltraViolet: Biden on Track to Win, Thanks to Women and Women of Color – Now We Need to Count the Votes
WASHINGTON, DC -— As we await the results of the 2020 presidential election, Shaunna Thomas, executive director of UltraViolet, a leading national women’s advocacy organization, issued the following statement:
“Let’s be clear, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the popular vote and very likely the electors needed to win the electoral college vote thanks to the work of women, and specifically women of color across the country who have been organizing to protect our democracy from day one. From the beginning we knew that this election would be unprecedented and it would take time to count the votes – we need to do just that now to ensure that every vote cast is counted.
On October 12, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI celebrated the launch of Dr. Tyrone McKinley Freeman’s new book, Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy During Jim Crow. Moderated by Bob Grimm, Philanthropy Historian at the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute, the event featured conversations with Freeman, as well as Madam Walker’s great-great granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, who also wrote the foreword for the book.
The event opened with a welcome from Bob Grimm, the night’s moderator. He began by introducing Dr. Freeman, a professor at the Lilly School, and a prolific author whose work has been featured in a wide range of outlets. Grimm also introduced A’Lelia Bundles, Madam Walker’s great-great granddaughter and author of many books about Madam Walker and her legacy.
It seems, in the feminist philanthropy community, everyone is waiting for that tipping point to come, when women’s leadership finally establishes its value to the world. Covid, it seems, is helping to accelerate our awareness of the added value of women’s leadership. By showing that countries led by women having strikingly better COVID survival and containment rates, we should finally be at that point where you could practically pour the product of women’s leadership into a bottle and sell it on the open market.
Well, think again. I have been on my own quest to establish the value of women’s leadership, particularly women’s leadership in philanthropy, over the past four years. I went in with the theory that feminist strategies are more powerful strategies, and once people get to know more about them, lots of folks would flock to our website and build up our subscriber base to the point where, eventually, it might even turn into a for-profit market product. Though fiscally sponsored by the Women’s Funding Network, our budget and strategy is built around the idea that only a small portion of our funding should come from grants, and that as our subscriber base grows, eventually, we could become attractive to a regular small business publication or larger progressive media platform.
New Corporate Accountability Campaign Puts Six Major Companies On Notice For Anti-Choice Political Giving
The #ReproReceipts Campaign by UltraViolet Highlights Hypocrisy in Corporate America and Calls for Accountability at AT&T, Coca Cola, Disney, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Uber
(October 2, 2020) WASHINGTON, DC — Today, UltraViolet announced a new campaign to hold six corporations accountable for their political giving to anti-choice, anti-women candidates and calls on them to end their support for such politicians entirely and to commit to investing in reproductive health and justice. AT&T, Coca Cola, Disney, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Uber all target female consumers and promote women-friendly work environments, yet they bankroll candidates who actively work against women’s rights.