It’s All About the Divorce Gap: Ending Isolation for Divorcing Women

Edna Gomez-Green of the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation (Photo credit: Fresh Start)

Divorce is often a difficult process, and it disproportionately leaves women struggling with financial challenges. As we covered in regard to MacKenzie Bezos’ settlement, after a divorce, men’s standard of living generally rises by about 33%, while women’s drops by about 20%. Other studies have shown that women’s income after divorce drops by an average of 41%. These stats outline the divorce gap, one of many overlapping economic gaps women continue to face, including the wage, debt, unpaid labor, funding, investing and “pink tax” (consumer pricing) gap.

The Divorce Gap

There are many reasons women can find themselves struggling after a divorce; some stop working to raise kids during marriage and then find it difficult to re-enter the workforce and earn adequately. Others take on full-time caregiving for the first time after a divorce, which can conflict with their career paths and keep them from making enough to support their families. Some women haven’t chosen or been able to invest independently for the future and find themselves without a safety net or backup plan. The other financial gaps all come into play. Women are generally paid less, have more debt, receive less funding, invest less and are charged more for products designed for them. And the unpaid labor gap is significant here; women often take on care giving, housekeeping and other crucial contributions to families and societies that are uncompensated.

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#WomenFunded2019: Highlights from the First Day

The first day of #WomenFunded2019 just wrapped up. With electrifying energy, the 400 people in attendance today engaged with a wide range of issues and topics. Here are some highlights.

MONEY: Where is the Money Going? How Philanthropists, Corporate Leaders, and Investors are Advancing Gender Equity

The first panel of the day included Kat Taylor, President and CEO of Beneficial Bank, Paulette Senior of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, Mary Chandler, Vice President of the Cummins Foundation, and Ada Williams Prince of Pivotal Ventures. The panel was moderated by Denise Dunning, Founder and Executive Director of Rise Up.

The panelists spoke from a personal perspective on how they became invested in gender equality. Many spoke of early life experiences of inequality that left a indelible mark. Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, shared about witnessing domestic violence experiences of friends as a child and young adult and remembered thinking, “This can’t be the reality of so many people I love.”

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Learn How to Shift From Domination to Partnership

The Center for Partnership Studies and Relationships First (co-founded by Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix, pictured above) are hosting a webinar on September 12 to teach Safe Conversations methods of communication. (Photo Credit: Relationships First)

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.

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Serena Williams Invests $3 Million in Reducing Maternal Mortality Rates

Serena Williams, world class athlete and founder of Serena Ventures, is helping to address critical health issues for pregnant women in America. (Photo credit: Serena Ventures)

After her daughter’s birth in 2017, tennis legend Serena Williams spoke out about her many postpartum complications. Williams experienced a traumatizing pulmonary embolism that forced her to undergo several surgeries after her initial C-section. The complications kept her in a hospital bed for a week after childbirth–and ruminating on the implications of her health issues for a lot longer than that. 

Although harrowing, Williams’ story is far from unusual. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. In particular, the immediate postpartum period is considered especially high-risk, due in part to the widespread inaccessibility of adequate postpartum care for both psychological and physiological complications. 

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What Feminist Leadership Looks Like for Me In Real Life

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, Founder and Publisher of Philanthropy Women

In this video, I discuss what feminist leadership looks like for me as a publisher and writer. The discussion includes different domains of experience and how I apply feminist leadership in those domains.

I made this video to participate in the Feminist Leadership Project’s series. If you’d like to participate in this project, you can go here for more details.

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Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.

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What is Feminist Leadership?

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, Editor and Publisher of Philanthropy Women.

This short video features me discussing the five components that make up my definition of feminist leadership.

I made this video to participate in the Feminist Leadership Project’s series. If you’d like to participate in this project, you can go here for more details.

Hope you enjoy this video in which I describe my definition of feminist leadership.

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Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.

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Partnering for Power: NYWF Grants $11 Million for Gender Equality

The New York Women’s Foundation has announced a record-breaking $11 million in funding for 2018.

“These extraordinarily demanding times call for increased responsiveness, investment, and collaboration from philanthropy,” said Ana Oliveira, The New York Women’s Foundation’s President and CEO, upon announcing a record $11 million in grants for 2018 to 175 community organizations. “Our 2018 grantmaking expresses the Foundation’s increased response to the needs of historically underinvested communities most impacted by poverty and violence.”

The New York Women’s Foundation (The Foundation) has been at the forefront of gender equality philanthropy for several decades. From 2017 to 2018, grantmaking from the foundation increased by $3 million, breaking its previous record of $8 million, a 27% increase in just one year. If the New York Women’s Foundation continues giving at this rate, in another five years, its giving could reach over $25 million per year.

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What Philanthropy Must Do to Protect Reproductive Rights

Staff of the National Abortion Federation joined Kathy LeMay to talk about the problems facing abortion providers in today’s increasingly hostile environment.

With the fight to keep abortion safe and legal increasingly under threat, fundraising expert Kathy LeMay of Raising Change recently hosted a webinar with leaders from the National Abortion Federation. The goal of the webinar was to help philanthropists take action to support the abortion providers, during increasingly hostile times for providing these vital services.

Kathy introduced the Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, former President of the Episcopal Divinity School and Interim President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation. (Longtime CEO of NAF, Vicki Saporta, who put in 23 years at the helm of NAF, announced her retirement this past year.)

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NoVo Invests $10M in Ending Sex Trafficking of Marginalized Women

NoVo Foundation is investing $10 million in helping marginalized women in sex trafficking seek new options in life. (Photo credit: NoVo Foundation)

Despite the prevalence of the sexual exploitation of women and girls, gender-based violence funding accounts for just 1.8% of all foundation giving. And even within that small percentage, the majority of funds go to domestic violence, with commercial sexual exploitation often remaining neglected.

To bridge that crucial gap, the NoVo Foundation recently announced a $10 million, 3-year funding commitment for U.S.-based programs. The funding will go to programs that are aimed at “opening exit ramps” and “closing on-ramps” to the commercial sex trade–or, as it’s often called, The Life.

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Vision and Decision-Making: Straight Talk from a DAF Giving Expert

Eileen R. Heisman, CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust, shares ideas and strategies for philanthropists.

Eileen R. Heisman, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), has a 30 year record of professional achievements in philanthropy, but it all started  with being a social worker. I wanted to learn more about Heisman’s early social work origins, and also about how she led NPT from a small nonprofit in 1996 to the $6 billion dollar grantmaking organization it is today, making an indelible imprint on the landscape of modern philanthropy.

When we began our conversation, I asked Heisman to comment on what it felt like to run the country’s largest host organization for Donor Advised Funds. “When I read my own bio, sometimes it feels kind of like an out of body experience,” said Heisman with a chuckle. “But it’s nice to be able to say all those things are true.”

For all the time and energy Heisman has put into growing NPT over the past 22 years, she says the things that have kept her up at night were more parenting-related than work-related. Her children are now young adults and Heisman, now age 64 (“I feel like I’m about 39!”), is still steering NPT toward bigger and better things, with NPT now managing over 7,400 Donor Advised Funds and continuing to grow. NPT has raised over $13 billion in charitable contributions and currently manages $7.4 billion in charitable assets, making it one of top 25 largest grantmaking institutions in the US.

Vision + Decision-Making = Success

With her breadth of experience, I asked Heisman to talk about what attributes she sees as critical to success for philanthropists today.

“Two things are key to success: having a vision and being able to make decisions in a timely way,” said Heisman. “Even if you make a wrong decision from time to time, people want to see leaders who are decisive.”

Heisman emphasized that being able to envision growing the organization is critical, even if plans take a change of direction. “I like planning and I would do a lot of incremental planning about how it was going to work.”

In terms of how to make decisions, Heisman advised, “knowing your conscience and being a great data gatherer,” as a key combination.

While seemingly obvious, Heisman says paying attention to these two key elements — vision and decision-making — will put you leagues ahead as an organizational leader. Next, Heisman credits her ability to hire well and form successful professional relationships with her staff. “Hiring smart people, making sure they have enough resources to do their job, that they’re well trained, and relying on them when you’re not the best person to make a decision,” said Heisman. “I loved the idea of hiring people who were better at something than I was, and giving them the chance to do it.”

Leadership: It’s About the Relationships

I commented on how Heisman depended on relationships to build the  strength of NPT as an organization. “I think relationships are almost more important than knowledge sometimes — learning who you can trust, who is a big picture thinker, who is a detail person, who do you go to when you’re upset and angry, who can go to who to process information and they aren’t threatened by it or upset by it.”

For Heisman, this kind of relationship-building is a big key to NPT’s growth over the past two decades. She talked about keeping a close eye on the roster of people around her, choosing carefully who to be in contact with, and what the intent is of the relationship. “I love having those thought partners around me.”

Heisman also described how leaders need to be fluent in dealing with disagreement, and create an environment where people can be different but also stay connected. “So if you have divergent points of view, how do you have civil discourse about it?”

Women’s Leadership and Political Giving

On the role of women in leadership, Heisman expressed frustration at the slow pace of change. “I think that women are really effective leaders, and I’m astounded at how few women are on corporate boards or running publicly traded companies. I find it really sad and unfortunate.”

While criticizing the lack of leadership opportunities for women, Heisman suggested that the most effective way for many high net worth women to influence this problem is through political support for candidates and PACs.

“The way women come to the forefront on topics like gender equality is through PAC’s and supporting campaigns of the leaders taking us there,” said Heisman. She sees tremendous potential for philanthropic women to direct some of their resources toward gender equality political action. “Philanthropy does effect the fringes of how some ideas get started, but the real substantial things happen when the government gets involved.”

Heisman cautioned, though, that NPT’s intent is not to direct donors in giving in any way. “Donors come to us from all different arenas and political points of view,” she said. “I’m in a different position [at NPT] where my personal points of view are really not important. I really have to stay out of that public discourse, and it’s hard sometimes.”

The Potential Chilling Effect of the New Tax Law on Small Nonprofits

I offered Heisman a chance to comment on the effects of the Trump tax laws on charitable giving, particularly the laws which took away the charitable giving deduction for a certain segment of the middle class. “I think small gifts to charities are going to decrease,” said Heisman. “The question is how much. You need two or three or four years of data points to see a trend. Maybe by that time, the tax laws will change back to being more reasonable relative to giving.”

“Another trend is even scarier,” added Heisman. “Twenty million fewer households are giving in the US, but giving is going up. So the wealthier are giving the lion’s share of the gifts in the US and regular everyday households are already giving less. Then we add the tax law change,” said Heisman, and suggested that the new tax law will likely even further exacerbate the trend of reduced giving from small donors and increased giving from the ultra-rich.

“Do we want giving in the US to be only the domain of the ultra wealthy? I think no,” said Heisman. She sees philanthropy’s definition as tied to the definition of a democracy in which people can use charitable giving to organize at the grassroots to improve their communities. “I think the idea that fewer people are giving is concerning,” she said, “And if I were running a small human services charity in a community, I would be concerned right now.”

Heisman described a dynamic whereby high net worth givers get cultivated by hospitals, universities, and research institutions and end up giving large sums in that direction. Meanwhile, small charities have a hard time accessing wealthy individuals, so there is a big division between the haves and the have-nots in how this plays out.

“This is going to be the first time people are trying these new regulations on,” said Heisman. “There’s been a big push on Capitol Hill to have a universal deduction, where people get to deduct every charitable gift regardless of where they stand for income. If I had my wish as a policy maker, that’s what I would be promoting.”

Related:

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

Gender Lens Experts: Check Out this Women and Money Summit

WFN’s Cynthia Nimmo Reflects on 2018 and Future of Feminism

Introducing the Philanthropy Women Funding Guides

 

 

 

 

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