A newly published Dance Data Project (DDP) “Season Overview” report indicates that men choreographed 72 percent of works produced by the United States’ top 50 ballet companies during the 2019-20 season. While the gender disparity is significant; the figure represents an improvement over 2018-19 when 81 percent of works were choreographed by men. Nevertheless, as the report indicates, ballet equity has a long way to go.
“The entire DDP team is inspired by the rising number of commissioned women’s works,” said Liza Yntema, DDP Founder and President. “Yet, inequity is still present in some of the most notable categories of performance. Works choreographed by men continue to overwhelmingly populate the main stage, while women’s works are often relegated to special programs and sandwiched into male-dominated mixed bills.” Yntema also worries that women’s gains will be lost if company directors perceive that hiring more men represents a “safe choice” in a turbulent economy. Such thinking will make it more difficult to attract the new audiences that are critical to ballet’s survival.
The Ms. Foundation for Women, through its recently formed Activist Collaboration Fund, is granting $275,000 to 15 organizations across the country that are led by and for women and girls of color, trans women and girls of color, and indigenous women and girls.
The Activist Collaboration Fund (ACF) launched in late January and focuses on social justice and movement-building, including fostering cooperation among organizations. The ACF received over 160 nominations from organizations by and for women and girls of color from 35 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam.
The Texas Women’s Foundation (TWF) recently announced that 100 percent of its $36 million dollars in financial assets are now invested in a “gendered impact” portfolio.
The gender impact strategy seeks a strong return on investment while having the investment itself—and not just the return that accrues to Texas Women’s Foundation—benefit women and girls. This approach makes TWF the first and only women’s fund or foundation to move all of its financial assets—which include endowments, operating investments and donor-advised funds—into gendered impact.
“We hope that we can inspire others to become part of what is now a global movement around impact investing,” says Roslyn Dawson Thompson, Texas Women’s Foundation president and CEO. “Specifically for women’s funds and foundations, we can demonstrate how, by mission-aligning 100% of our assets with our philanthropy, we can powerfully accelerate the change we seek in the world.”
An Olympic athlete and most decorated U.S. swimmer in the 1992 Olympics, Summer is known for using her platform for good. She rose to precedence as a member of Stanford’s swimming team, taking on the 1992 National Championship and Olympic Games. In Barcelona, Summer became the most decorated U.S. swimmer with one bronze, one silver, and two gold medals.
In the early 1990s, Summer turned to television, commentating the NCAA Swimming Championships for CBS Sports, and hosting MTV’s surf-and-sun competition show Sandblast. Her numerous television accolades include correspondent, co-host, and host for a range of sporting events, TV series, and competition shows.
What a great way to start the day, with my daily news search for the term “philanthropy women” turning up an article on Forbes that discusses both our fiscal sponsor, Women’s Funding Network, and one of our spotlight organizations, Women Donors Network. The article also talks in detail about other work we’ve covered, including Emergent Fund’s rapid response funding for the Resistance, and the role that Donna Hall and WDN have played in bringing together progressive funders this past year.
I won’t be a spoiler for you — you can read Marianne Schnall’s fine article here. But it’s interesting to note that we reported on many of the funders and organizations in depth over the past year, and now here they are all rounded up in another article published on a much larger mainstream publication, and by such a reputable writer. Schnall has a resume that is bursting at the seams with knowledge and experience in the field of feminism, including being the founder and publisher of Feminist.com since 1996, and having two feminist book titles to her credit.
While I try to stay reality-based about the value of Philanthropy Women as a micropublisher, I can’t help but wonder if other feminist writers, when researching their articles, are googling terms like “philanthropy women” and “feminist philanthropy” and are turning up some of our content in the process. In any case, I am glad to see the enhanced attention to the important work being done by WDN, WFN, Groundswell, Emergent Fund, and all of the other women’s philanthropy leaders discussed in Schnall’s article.
A new report out from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute helps to distill some key traits that progressive women donors share. The report, entitled “Giving By and For Women,” is a first-of-its-kind study involving in-depth interviews with women donors who are focused on giving to women and girls.
“Acquisition of wealth gives these donors hyperagency,” says the report’s conclusions, and this hyperagency is worth studying for the way it influences social change. The common traits that these donors exhibit are worth recognizing, since they form a particular pattern of life experiences and values that contribute to the focus of their giving. The report also importantly notes that “these interviews are not generalizable to a larger population of donors.”
So what do these gender equality-focused donors look like? An infographic accompanying the report outlines seven key traits discovered:
She learns philanthropy young. Early values of “giving what they could” exhibited by parents of participants influenced their choice to get into philanthropy.
She believes there is added value and impact to investing in women and girls. Women donors interviewed saw funding women and girls as the best return-on-investment for their philanthropy dollars.
Empathy is at the heart of her philanthropy. Study participants cited their own experiences of gender discrimination and social inequality as motivating their decisions to fund women and girls.
She comes to philanthropy self-educated. Participants take education very seriously and do not avoid the data and research when developing funding strategies. Education comes in the form of conversations and networking for many of these women, as well as staying on top of the latest studies.
She’s a risk-taker. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, the women we spoke with expressed a willingness to take risks with their philanthropy, funding experimental initiatives rather than just known solutions,” says the study. Many study participants also had experienced risk-taking in starting their own businesses.
She believes the cost of financial privilege is social responsibility. High- net-worth women in the study expressed an awareness of the added load of responsibility that comes with their wealth.
She sees the deeper impact of systemic change. Progressive women donors have figured out that without partnering in the real world with government and business, there will be no real change for women. They work to get upstream at problems by changing the larger social systems creating inequality.
As a writer focused on progressive women donors and their allies, reading through this study was a validating experience. It confirmed many of my own my observations of the women donors I have known so far, and helped to frame their work in a larger context of shared values. As we learn more about donors focused on gender equality, we can better understand this dynamic and expanding field of philanthropy.
And it’s not just one day. It’s the entire weekend.
And it’s not just about marching. It’s about participating in democracy.
The Women’s March for 2018 is about what it means to be part of a society that values equality and freedom, and it’s about getting more people to the polls to elect the defenders of those values.
After the overwhelming success of last years’s Women’s March, the creators of the event developed a nonprofit organization called Women’s March Alliance in order to facilitate movement activity. This year, over 200 events for the Women’s March will happen on both the 20th and the 21st. On the 20th, New York City will start its rally at 11 AM at 72nd street, marching past Columbus Circle by 12:30. In Washington, DC on the 20th, the march will start at the Reflecting Pool and go to the White House, with speakers to present on the steps of Lincoln Memorial.
On the 21st, Nevada will have its Power to the Polls Launch starting at 10 am. Also on the 21st, Athens, Greece will start its rally in Syntagma Square end in front of the Embassy of the United States in Athens.
All around the country and world, for two days, people will rally peacefully for the cause of gender equality and justice. And who are the sponsors of these events? The Exclusive Premier sponsor is Planned Parenthood of America. The Presenting Platinum sponsor is NRDC, the National Resource Defense Council. Social Justice sponsors are Emily’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Movement friends include the ACLU, the AFT, Human Rights Campaign, Movement is Loud, 1199SEIU, and Moveon.org. The sponsors and partners page for the Women’s March website also has an extensive list of partner organizations, including many longtime organizations in the women’s space like the National Organization for Women (NOW), Women Thrive Alliance, Women for Women International, and dozens of others. Other larger partners include Amnesty International, YWCA America, and the National Association of Social Workers (my professional association!). A huge number of artists have also signed on for the Women’s March.
These events are not just for the rights and equality of women, but the rights and equality of all human beings. The Women’s March is a valuable opportunity for the resistance to show its diversity — shining a light on race and gender equality as well as on reproductive, LGBTQIA, worker’s, civil, disability, immigrant, and environmental rights.
I am pleased to announce that the Women’s Funding Network has agreed to serve as Philanthropy Women’s fiscal sponsor for our not-for-profit publishing work. This partnership will help us to raise funds to make Philanthropy Women a more potent force for educating the community about how women in philanthropy are driving social change.
The Women’s Funding Network (WFN) grew out of a 1984 joint meeting of the National Black United Fund and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, where participants discussed creating an organization exclusively for women’s funds. By 2000, WFN had grown into a network of 94 member funds and foundations with over $200 million in assets, deploying $30 million a year in grants. In 2003, WFN received a $5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which enabled significant growth. Today, WFN continues to expand, with over 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning 30 countries, and continues to collaborate with other philanthropic powerhouses like Kellogg, the Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation, to address gender equality globally.
Soon, the shopping rampage will be over, and we can get on with a much more interesting event of the season: #GivingTuesday. This year on Giving Tuesday, we will be hosting a Twitter chat along with the Women Donors Network, where we will talk about the diverse and powerful ways philanthropy can #fundwomen and make a lasting impact for gender equality.
Please join us on Tuesday, November 28 at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT) for a one-hour conversation on the importance of funding women in today’s philanthropy landscape.
Topic: Why #FundWomen on #GivingTuesday?
Hashtags: #FundWomen #GivingTuesday
Questions for Women Donors Network:
Q1) Today is Giving Tuesday. What advice do you have for individuals looking to give today?
Q2) What is the advantage of funding women’s rights organizations over other types of philanthropy?
Q3) What actions can we take to support gender equality as citizens and givers?
Q4) What are some resources that donors can use to educate themselves on investing in women’s rights?
Twitter chat guidelines:
At the beginning of the chat, Philanthropy Women will introduce the topic and invite everyone to introduce themselves. At about 1:10 pm EDT (10:10 am PDT), we will begin tweeting the questions. We invite others to share their answers by using A1 for the first answer, A2 for the second answer and so on for each question. Philanthropy Women will try to respond to as many of the conversation members as possible, and will also provide some tweets that respond to the questions. Please include hashtag #FundWomen in all tweets.
We did a similar event on National Philanthropy Day with Nonprofit organization WomenThrive. We had over 100 participants including leaders in several women’s funds, and philanthropy leaders Ruth Ann Harnisch and Jacki Zehner. We also had participation from members of the media like PBS’ To the Contrary. We hope this conversation with Women Donors Network will also be as fruitful for generating more awareness about feminist philanthropy and its potential to address a range of social and economic issues.
Hope you join in on #GivingTuesday at 1 pm EST on Twitter!
I’m excited about the #FundWomen Twitter Chat, starting tomorrow at 11 AM EST. Also joining the conversation: clothing company Michael Stars, which has a foundation and uses its philanthropy to effect positive change for women.
Below is a sneak peek of a few of my upcoming tweets!
Here’s part of my answer for Question #2: How and why do you opt to fund women’s rights organizations?