We are always looking for contributing writers at Philanthropy Women, where we cover the growing world of women’s giving for all areas of philanthropy, from feminist foundations to women’s funds to giving circles, and just about anything in between. We also cover research on women in philanthropy such as changing patterns of giving, as well as the funding for research on the status of gender equality worldwide.
Writers for Philanthropy Women should know who they are primarily writing for: women in philanthropy at all levels, meaning women who give through dollars, women who give through strategy, and women who give through labor, primarily in the nonprofit world. Generally, we hire freelance writers who have extensive experience both as writers and in some area of philanthropy, such as nonprofit fundraising, social policy, or funding strategy.
At the roundtable, President Shalala said that the level of future involvement for Mrs. Clinton at the foundation is unclear, but that former President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have both re-upped their commitment and are ready to take the foundation in some new directions.
“Stage one is the letter from President Clinton,” said Shalala, and that they are now planning to follow up with a fundraising effort. What exactly that fundraising effort will look like is not yet entirely clear, but Shalala said it would likely involve both direct mailing to increase the base of support and reaching out for new partnerships with other foundations and nonprofits.
Regarding the process of spinning off the Clinton Global Initiative, a process that began in the fall of 2016, Shalala said, “We lost about 100 people in the downsizing. Almost all of it is related to CGI. We announced 80 early in the fall, and then another dozen or so, maybe more than that, recently. We don’t have any more plans for downsizing of that scale.”
Megan O’Neil asked about the future for President Shalala at the Clinton Foundation, noting that Shalala is now 75 years old and also works part-time as a college professor in Miami.
Shalala responded that she expects to stay on staff for the foreseeable future. “I am teaching in Miami, but I also taught all of last year, so that’s not unusual. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk to the Presdient, Chelsea and the board, but it’s pretty exciting now,” she added.
She regarded the last year at the foundation as a “really painful year,” but said that, like Michelle Obama, they take the approach of “When they go low, we go high.” She said the foundation remained focused on their work and did some of the most effective collaborating and partnering to date, such as establishing the $70 million dollar commitment from nonprofits and businesses to address gender equality.
Shalala also spoke confidently about the coming year. “I have been talking with staff. It was difficult to eliminate CGI, one of our most exciting programs, but I believe this year, the best is yet to come, because we do see a clear path ahead, even though there are going to be challenges in international, global work for everyone that isn’t related to the Clinton Foundation but more related to the world economy and the refugee crisis going on all over the place.”
Shalala described the past 18 months at The Clinton Foundation as “intense” and added, “I’m used to being pounded on, but everybody else is not, so I think the challenge of the last 18 months was to keep the organization together and focused. That’s not easy when you don’t have control over the political environment or the environment in which you’re working. And I don’t think we really missed a beat.”
Shalala talked about how finding partners in other foundations and nonprofits is a big part of the Clinton Foundation’s strategy going forward. “We’re always looking for expertise. We see ourselves as an incubator. One of the amazing things over the past year has been the support from other foundations who urged us to continue to do our good work. But I think diversifying your funding base is always a good thing.”
Where else is the Clinton Foundation looking make contributions? Shalala said the foundation will be “looking at our programs to see where they could be refocused.”
“Too Small to Fail can have a dramatic impact and it could use more resources. We want to be able to do that.” Shalala also said the foundation wants to remain nimble, so that if there is a medical crisis like the Ebola crisis, “if the President wants to bring together partnerships,” they are able to do that.
“We can play a convening role and the president is anxious to do that on specific subjects,” said Shalala. She referenced the opioid epidemic in the country and said that that specific subjects “needs some attention,” due to the lack of systematic response in this country.
Shalala quickly defended the foundation’s intent to remain involved in global affairs, saying that she expects the foundation to continue in Africa and the Caribbean Islands, as well as addressing global issues like climate and energy. “Just because we’re spinning one of our mature international programs off, doesn’t mean we won’t continue to be interested, particularly in Africa and Latin America.”
Shalala said the foundation is definitely thinking of starting another international program, but they are looking carefully to make sure they are filling a niche that no else is filling. “We have a combination of fundraising and we work with other foundations, so it’s not just individual. We also put together an endowment that will help us in the long run and we haven’t touched that endowment yet. We made a deliberate decision over the last two years not to touch the endowment.”
“I don’t anticipate fundraising to slack off,” said Shalala. “Private donations will continue to play a very significant role to help people around the world.”
With regard to the work of No Ceilings, Clinton Foundation staff noted that the program will continue. The Full Participation Report, created in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will also continue to serve as a resource on the global progress of women and girls. In addition, the Clinton Foundation will provide technical assistance to support the Girls, Women, and Global Goals CGI commitments made at last year’s CGI meeting, as well as the CHARGE commitment announced in 2014.Read More
Grassroots activism is on the rise, from Standing Rock to the Women’s March on Washington to local organizing across the country. In the midst of all this, what better thing to do than attend a conference that is all about how to enhance civil society — the engagement of citizens in collective activity for the common good.
With this focus on growing civil society, the 2017 Symposium of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute offers panelists, speakers, and interaction aimed at understanding how women envision a better society, and then dare to take action to create that better place.
The Symposium, slated for March 14 and 15 in Chicago, will start with the leaders of two of the oldest and most venerable community-based organizations in the country — the YWCA, and the Junior League. “These organizations have lived through so much, and they adapted to the times to remain vibrant and vital,” said Andrea Pactor, Associate Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, in a recent chat with Philanthropy Women about the upcoming conference.
As many in the U.S. plan to press on for gender equality, valuing it as a cornerstone of civil society, The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is offering a wide array of expertise to feed the conversation about where women in philanthropy fits into this landscape.
The opening speaker for the conference will be Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of the YWCA, and a key figure in community-based leadership nationwide. “The YWCA is a classic example of how women developed new resources for civil society early on,” said Pactor.
During the mid-1800’s industrialization of the nation, the YWCA grew out of a need for women to have a safe place to stay overnight. By starting the conference with Dr. Richardson-Heron, WPI is framing the narrative for women in philanthropy around a core value of having a safe place for everyone in the community, even as people moved or migrated to find new work.
“There is no question that public policy and legislation can affect more people overall,” noted Pactor, “but while we’re waiting for that to happen, organizations in local communities like the YWCA and the Junior League are getting things done.”
Pactor observed that both of these organizations have been at the forefront of social and political movements since before women got the right to vote, and they continue to lead with innovative strategies for community engagement, such as the Junior League’s partnership with Kaboom! which builds playgrounds where they are needed. “This is a great partnership, because public space is where people can come together and when we come together we find we’re not so different after all,” said Pactor.
The Junior League, in particular, has deep roots for women’s community-building leadership. Mary Harriman, a 19-year-old heiress to a railroad fortune, founded The Junior League in 1901 to help women organize and take collective action to improve their communities.
“We’re starting from an institutional point of view, and then we move right into an individual perspective,” said Pactor, referencing the next speaker on opening day, Becky Straw, Co-Founder and CEO of The Adventure Project. “In some ways, Becky Straw is the new Mary Harriman, harnessing technology and integrating it into her work from the get-go.”
At 29 years of age, Becky Straw co-founded The Adventure Project in order to “marry good intentions with measurable impact.” Straw’s project allows donors to invest in entrepreneurs in countries like Kenya and Uganda, and through technology, provides a direct link connecting the recipient of the donation with the donor.
Pactor said Straw will discuss how this connection enhances women’s giving, helping donor and recipient align in their goals and invest more deeply in the cause. “So this is a conference that is connecting the new and the old, and thinking how women have worked in this public space over time,” said Pactor.
Other sessions of the conference are dedicated to women’s social entrepreneurship and impact investing. Leaders of Prosperity Together will also be presenting, including Lee Roper-Batker, CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, and Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, CEO of the Greater Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Pactor was quick to point out that these women leaders in philanthropy, in their own ways, are also social entrepreneurs.
“Can we think about Prosperity Together as an entrepreneurial effort?” Pactor said the women’s funds leaders at the conference would be talking about how the Prosperity Together — the collaborative effort of 29 women’s funds and foundations across the country to increase economic security for women — has been “one of the most impactful campaigns that the women’s funds have ever taken on.” Hearing the insights of these leaders can help entrepreneurs of all sorts consider new ways to leverage social impact while also providing a service and contributing to the economy.
“Can those changes at the local level be brought to scale? Can the United Way Women’s Leadership Council in Anderson, South Carolina which took on teen pregnancy and was very successful, can this kind of work be replicated in other communities?” Pactor said questions like these, and other instances of women-led locally-based grantmaking, will be discussed more deeply. “In Jacksonville, how has the Women’s Giving Alliance focus on mental health affecting the community? Could we build a national movement through women’s collective grantmaking around mental health?”
The conference also aims to stimulate discussion of what can be done to encourage women to step fully into their philanthropy. Using small group work and other collaborative techniques, participants can deepen their awareness of how to use their skills more effectively.
The conference trends in the direction of action, said Pactor. “Another tool that women have at their disposal that some are reluctant to use is advocacy,” said Pactor. “That’s why we’re bringing Sonya Campion to talk about advocacy both from the big picture and on the grassroots level.”
Sonya Campion added advocacy to her portfolio after feeling frustrated with the progress their foundation was making on its strategic goals. She and her husband, Tom, started a 501(c)4 in 2013 to invest in advocacy around the same causes their foundation supports. “They created a 501(c)4 so they bring different approaches to the table,” said Pactor. “Sonya Campion is not afraid to use advocacy as a tool to reach public policy makers to effect the kinds of changes they want to see.”
Ultimately, said Pactor, the conference hopes to close with a message that that encourages women to use all the tools at their disposal – whether leveraging their assets in impact investing, creating collaborations, enriching their work through advocacy, supporting innovative social enterprises, or growing grassroots giving circles.
“We have to think strategically about the kinds of partnerships we want as women in philanthropy,” said Pactor. “I mean, think of it: Prosperity Together was launched at The White House. That says a lot about the kinds of partnerships that women in philanthropy are growing across the country.”
I had to ask: Did Pactor think Prosperity Together would be invited to the Trump White House? “We’re going to hope that they will be. Trump campaigned on the message of jobs and bringing better jobs to America. That’s what Prosperity Together is all about, so why wouldn’t he invite Prosperity Together to The White House?”Read More
Last year when I was writing for Inside Philanthropy, David Callahan and I co-authored a list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy. It was a big hit. This year, I have decided to follow up and develop eight shorter lists. The lists will start with Emerging Most Powerful Women.
Why start with emerging? Using emerging women leaders as our starting point helps us get a sense of how these women are influencing some of the changing dynamics of philanthropy. Some of the emerging women are quite different from the more established women leaders in philanthropy. Many of these emerging leaders take a strong stance on the need for philanthropy to be more integrated into the economy and inclusive of marginalized groups. A heightened awareness of the need for collaboration across sectors to achieve systemic change is also a key point for many of them.
Speaking of inclusiveness, we want to make the process of establishing this list more inclusive, by asking for nominations from the public. So please, use this contact page to send me your nominations or leave them in the comments below. Make sure to say which category you are nominating someone for.
The point to all this list-making? I believe that the more women in philanthropy can be seen by the larger public, and the more their strategies can be known and replicated, the stronger movements for women’s leadership and gender equality will become. So please join me in identifying and celebrating this growing trend in social progress.
Categories for the Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy
Emerging Leaders — These are women leaders who have not yet ascended to a highly visible position in the landscape of philanthropy, but appear destined to do so.
Network and Collaborative Giving Leaders — The donor network and giving circle women leaders who are forging new paths for philanthropy.
Thought and Strategy Leaders — Women leaders in academia, media, or journalism who are helping to conceptualize and amplify the world of women’s giving.
Corporate Giving Leaders — Women leading our corporations who are putting gender equity high on the agenda and working it into the fabric of the corporation as thoroughly as possible.
Foundation Leaders — Women who are making gender equity a priority in the country’s largest and most influential foundations.
High Net Worth Givers — Women of substantially higher net worth who are also very active in the world of giving.
Feminist Foundation and Women’s Fund Leaders — Women who are making feminism part of the central platform of their funding work.
Celebrity Women Leaders — Women who use their stardom as well as their philanthropic prowess to move the needle on gender equity.
I am making my plans to be at Dream, Dare, Do in Chicago, the 2017 Symposium of the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute, happening on March 14-15. Why? Because I believe it is more necessary than ever to pay attention to women’s leadership, particularly in philanthropy.
I believe women’s leadership in philanthropy is an essential key to social progress, and an important way to grow that leadership is by valuing it more and making it more visible to the public. So I will be there — raising the visibility of women like Ruth Ann Harnisch, founder of The Harnisch Foundation, Hali Lee, Founder of the Asian Women’s Giving Circle, and Marsha Morgan, Vice Chair of the Community Investment Network.
So go to the website and take a look at the 27 different speakers for this conference. Then consider how amazing it would be to attend an event that will enhance our understanding of the power of women’s leadership in philanthropy, feeding what is already an exciting trend for social progress.
Some big trends are happening in America for women, and these trends will likely be snowballing in the near future. The first trend: the growing financial muscle of women. The second: women’s growing leadership. Add to this mix the upward trajectory of women’s role in philanthropy, and you may have the makings of a paradigm shift.
In conversing with Debra Mesch, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and Andrea Pactor, its associate director, I came away with a sense of how forces are aligning, now more than ever, for women to take the lead in philanthropy and beyond, and shape public policy for the common good.
Let’s review the case for women’s growing financial muscle. “Women are becoming the recipients of a massive transfer of wealth,” said Mesch. A quick review of the numbers: $10-million-plus, women-owned firms increased by 57 percent in 2013. Forty-five percent of American millionaires are now women, and 48 percent of estates worth more than $5 million are controlled by women. In 2013, an estimated 60 percent of high-net-worth women made their own fortunes, and by some estimates, as much as two-thirds of all wealth in the U.S. will be controlled by women by the year 2030.
And the case for women’s growing leadership? We are seeing more and more breakthroughs for women’s leadership across the board, from religion to politics, from business to nonprofit, from the household to the White House. Hillary Clinton is the most obvious example of the perfect nexus of women’s leadership and philanthropy, with her dual role as both a political and a philanthropic leader. This presidential race may yield the first female president, and it’s no accident that she has a strong history in philanthropy, a field that has been ahead of the curve in pushing for promising social policy changes for women for several decades.
Add to this the women in communities forming giving circles. Scholars in the field are calling this process “the democratization of philanthropy,” and the results of this massive cultural shift have yet to be fully realized.
But wait a minute. Let’s back up. Where did all this momentum for women and philanthropy come from? Andrea Pactor traces the study of gender and philanthropy back to the very practical pursuits of two leading women fundraisers. Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, who started the National Network for Women as Philanthropists in 1991, perceived a critical difference in the way women approached giving. They also recognized a huge deficit in the field of fundraising that needed to be addressed—cultivating women donors.
“The two women (Shaw-Hardy and Taylor) who created this work did it not only to help women come into their own in philanthropy, but also to change the way fundraisers perceive donors,” said Pactor. “So this particular strand of women’s philanthropy study emanated from a very pragmatic approach to fundraising.”
Andrea Pactor, Associate Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute
In 1997, the National Network for Women as Philanthropists became the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and then became part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2004. The program functioned mainly as a home base for the lectures and presentations that Shaw-Hardy and Taylor made about gender and philanthropy across the country, and why it was such an important factor in fundraising. In its early years, the program functioned primarily to provide donor education to women donors about their power and influence in philanthropy, and at the same time to guide fundraisers to engage women as donors.
Debra Mesch came on as director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute in 2008, and helped the Institute gain traction by establishing a volunteer leadership council. In 2010, WPI began its signature research series Women Give, and each year, this research has built out the picture a little more on how gender is influencing philanthropy, and what we can do to maximize the return on women’s positive influence. As we recently reported, that research just got a major boost from the Gates Foundation.
Mesch and Pactor both see a lot of transformation happening on the ground for women in philanthropy. “Pockets of very powerful women at the community and grassroots level are forming their own giving circles, their own collective giving models, their own modes of engaging in philanthropy, to make powerful changes in their own communities and across the globe,” said Mesch.
Pactor agrees that giving circles are not just a trend, but a cultural phenomenon that is growing steadily—and an important way in which people are participating in society, as people organize their own giving campaigns and groups for giving. “There are giving circles for everybody out there.” Pactor pointed to the Women’s Collective Giving Network, an association of 47 giving circles, with more than 10,000 women philanthropists in the mix.
Pactor also sees an important new development in the Prosperity Together Initiative, which launched in November 2015 and brings together 28 women’s funds and foundations to provide $118 million in funding for women and girls of color. “This represents a new direction for the women’s funds. What Prosperity Together did is, it reframed the conversation, and it took existing dollars and pooled them to get more traction and bandwidth.” Pactor sees this move significantly increasing the visibility of women’s funds, which work to address inequality for women and girls.
Pactor also sees great potential for the new generation of women leaders in philanthropy coming up through these women’s funds. “They are bringing a lot of new momentum and ideas, leaders like Jennifer Lockwood- Shabat at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Liz Vivian out of the Women’s Funding Alliance. These women have the potential to take the state women’s funds in new and important directions.” Pactor also talked about the strength of Lee Roper-Batker from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and Roslyn Dawson-Thompson of the Dallas Women’s Foundation, more longstanding leaders of the women’s funds who have laid the groundwork for the younger generation.
Mesch sees big things happening in the near future with our understanding of women’s role in giving at the micro-level—how individual households are influenced by their female members. “We know women are much more interested in the idea of legacy, and leaving a legacy to their children and grandchildren. That’s another area of potential new findings that will influence practice.”
Pactor and Mesch talked about the example of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s giving, and how it has evolved since the couple’s marriage in 2012. “The recent giving that they have made, particularly in the Bay Area, to us, clearly reflects the research in the sense that she is a full partner in helping to craft their giving plan,” said Pactor. “We think that kind of high visibility of women’s role is another way that people like that will influence other people in their giving.”
Mesch also cited the giving of Bill and Melinda Gates as an example of a couple negotiating its philanthropic giving. She referenced Nicholas Kristof’s recent article on the 15th anniversary of the creation of the Gates Foundation, which describes how Melinda Gates has taken a stronger role recently in advocating for women to be central to the Gates’s giving.
“She [Melinda Gates] has a strong belief that giving to women and girls really makes an impact in the community, and changes the status of women and girls. She is a full partner with Bill, but she has also started her own track, now, on funding for women and philanthropy.”
And where do Mesch and Pactor see things going in the future for women and philanthropy? “Technology,” said Mesch. “Women seem to connect better with a lot of the technology around philanthropy, so we want to see where that can go in terms of further developing and amplifying giving.”
Pactor sees two other big trends: public policy and impact investing, both areas where women are becoming more strategic in terms of spending their money. “As more women come into philanthropy, they are realizing that they need to work on the legislative level and focus more on public policy.”
She also sees women as having an edge when it comes to reinventing philanthropy with financial tools like impact investing. “The concept of impact investing appeals to a lot of women,” she said. “So I think we’re going to hear a lot more from women about that.”Read More
Do you ever wonder what motivates someone to give money? Obviously, the answer is “yes” if you’re a professional fundraiser. But those who give may also wonder what’s really causing them to reach for that checkbook.
Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute sheds light on this area, particularly as it pertains to women at every level of society. Now, WPI has released a study showing for the first time that women are motivated by personal experience to give to causes that benefit women and girls specifically.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well, it’s actually significant, useful information. Women’s tendency to donate money to specific causes based on experiences like having a child or discrimination suggests that philanthropy might take off in new directions as women become primary asset-holders in society and further increase their giving.