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 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.”
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.
I first became aware of WFN because our longtime Executive Director of Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, Marcia Coné, reached out to meet with me and discuss women’s philanthropy both in Rhode Island and nationally. Marcia is now the Chief Strategist for the Women’s Funding Network and the author of Permission Granted: Changing the Paradigm for Women in Leadership, which explores ways to enact positive change in our own lives as well as in our communities.
I am thrilled to be able to partner with such an important organization in the history of progressive women’s funding. My job here at Philanthropy Women is enhanced by knowing that I have the support of this powerful network of women thinkers and doers. Please join me in welcoming the Women’s Funding Network as our fiscal sponsor, and in thanking them for their support.
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?
One of the most significant barriers to women starting out in philanthropy is lack of knowledge about how and where to donate money. Women new to philanthropy, including women whose families may have ill-prepared them for the financial management of inheritance, may have trouble picking an organization or cause to focus on. They may be confused about which kind of donation will create the most value for an organization, or may simply not understand the tax ramifications of different forms of philanthropy.
That’s where Women Donors Network (WDN) comes in. A network of progressive women philanthropists, WDN focus on three themes: connect, collaborate, and catalyze. In other words, WDN helps women get into relationships that teach them about philanthropy — how to collaborate on philanthropic projects, and how to act as catalysts for progressive social change.
I recently had the chance to talk with Donna P. Hall, the President and CEO of WDN, about the organization’s function and future plans.
WDN offers women a unique path toward empowerment and civic participation. Hall has been with WDN for 15 years now; before that, she earned an MBA when it was rare for women to do so, and her interest in public health and her personal convictions led her to positions in nonprofit management.
Hall worked for both the Kaiser Family Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation. When a friend contacted her about working for Women Donors Network, an under-the-radar start-up dedicated to helping women with inherited wealth learn how to use that wealth in philanthropy, she jumped at the opportunity.
“Often, women did not have the support they needed in male-dominated philanthropic families,” said Hall in our recent interview. “They were told ‘everything’s taken care of’ and patted on the head.” This is quite unlike the way male children are groomed to take on the mantle of family philanthropy. In addition, there is an increasing number of women-created individual fortunes and business empires. WDN is on a mission not just to help these women give away money, says Hall, but to “help women understand the powers they have not just with money but with connections.”
This is sorely needed in the world of philanthropy. Hall cited data that reveals that it takes three women on a board before male board members will listen to them. WDN focuses on how women can get a financial education outside of the formal education experience to build philanthropic communities. Along the way, these women learn to be effective public speakers, how to communicate with donors and grantees, and raise more funds for nonprofit organizations. The benefit of this kind of network is also manifest in the way that women grow in confidence through collaborative efforts. “It is important,” Hall argues, “for women to see that they don’t exist by themselves.”
Given its mission, it’s no surprise that WDN has grown rapidly since Hall began her tenure there. When she joined the organization, there were only 60 members. Now there are over 220 members, whose total donations amount to approximately $180 million a year. Members share a unique mutually beneficial experience: women starting out on the path of philanthropy benefit from participating in a community that includes experienced women who serve as mentors, and long-term members often get rejuvenated by the ideas and energies of new members. “It’s great to see both women just cutting their teeth as philanthropists, and experienced women evolving their practices.”
All of this contributes to the ultimate goal of WDN, which Hall explains is to help women understand the value and import of collective work as a means of creating progressive social change. “We are an unabashedly very progressive organization,” Hall reiterated, and WDN wants to continue pumping money into the progressive pipeline to fund projects such as Reflective Democracy, which has already raised a million dollars a year since its inception.
Though there are regional chapters of WDN in 39 of the 50 states, one of the most popular forums through which members make connections is at the annual conference, where participants focus on intersectional work on race, gender, class, and sexuality, to effect deep structural change in American politics and society. This year, the WDN Connect 2017 conference will be held November 9-12 in Atlanta, GA, and will “explore issues of race, gender, and equity, and the role of women donors in this critical time of resistance.”
This focus has already helped draw new members into the group, especially younger members. The uptick in interest from younger women has been so pronounced that WDN recently scrapped its requirement that all members reach a giving level of at least $25,000 per year to progressive organizations, because that proved to be a barrier to expanded membership. Now the only requirement is that each member provide WDN with a $5,000 a year tax-deductible contribution. “We think every woman should be a philanthropist,” Hall firmly stated. Occasionally, sponsors will assist in membership fees for women whose work is closely aligned to WDN or contributes significantly to progressive causes.
The other popular forum is the listserve created by WDN, which encourages conversation among philanthropic women who live thousands of miles from one another. This may be the key factor in one of the most interesting results of the creation of the WDN: almost every member within two years has upped their giving significantly, no doubt aided by the support and encouragement of fellow members. Currently, WDN plans to expand some of its programming in two specific ways:
WDN will soon provide more online resources to give members suggestions on how to fundraise and engage in other philanthropic activities;
WDN is going to initiate programming that’s intergenerational, and forge more relationships with millennials to build future members. “We want to welcome more millennials into our network so that we can develop the next generation of donor activists,” said Hall.
To women who lack the level of economic resources as members of WDN but still want to make a difference through a philanthropy portfolio, Hall recommends taking action. “Form groups and create communities,” she said. “Start with small dollar amounts, start locally, look at what interests are, and start making grants together.”
I asked Hall where she sees the Women Donors Network in five years, and she was confident that the organization will meet its strategic goal of increasing membership to 500, and will be able to expand its Reflective Democracy project. With all of this dynamic activity is going on at WDN, Hall stays grounded in her conviction about the intrinsic value of women giving together: “It is wonderful to be surrounded by women and doing good work.”
Editor’s Note: Women Donors Network is one of Philanthropy Women’s Spotlight organizations, receiving additional media amplification of their strategy and work.
I’ve been listening to Hillary Clinton’s What Happened in spurts over the past few days, and it’s time to start sharing some of the highlights. In her own voice on audio, Clinton speaks on a wide range of topics related to her political life. In particular, Clinton speaks with regret about taking speaking fees from large financial corporations and analyzes how the alt-right’s slandering the Clinton Foundation skewed the election.
I am now on Chapter 9, and this is when What Happened gets very relevant to philanthropy. I highly recommend listening to the book on audio — it really helps to have the words spoken by Hillary Clinton, who is destined for legendary status in the history of women’s advancement, whether she won the presidency or not.
From Hillary Clinton:
My life after leaving politics had turned out to be pretty great. I had joined Bill and Chelsea as a new Board member of the Clinton Foundation which Bill had turned into a major global philanthropy after leaving office. This allowed me to pursue my own passions and have an impact without all the bureaucracy and petty squabbles of Washington. I admired what Bill had built, and I loved that Chelsea had decided to bring her knowledge of public health and her private sector experience to the foundation, to improve its management, transparency, and performance, after a period of rapid growth.
At the 2002 International AIDS conference in Barcelona, Bill had a conversation with Nelson Mandela about the urgent need to lower the price of HIV/AIDS drugs in Africa and across the world. Bill figured he was well positioned to help, so he began negotiating agreements with drug makers and governments to lower medicine prices dramatically and to raise the money to pay for it. It worked. More than 11.5 million people in more than 70 countries now have access to cheaper HIV AIDS treatment. Right now, out of everyone being kept alive by these drugs in developing countries around the world, more than half the adults and 75 percent of the children are benefiting from the Clinton Foundation’s work.
It is shocking to consider the real-world positive impact of the Clinton Foundation’s work, and the degree to which the alt-right’s skewed portrayal of the Clinton Foundation might have influenced public opinion during the election. Hearing Clinton speak about it, it becomes clear that more must be done to investigate what happened.
Clinton goes on to detail the extensive philanthropic work the Clinton Foundation does in improving nutrition and exercise in public schools, protecting endangered species, addressing climate change in the Caribbean, and more. Then, she talks about my favorite part. Read on:
When I joined the Foundation in 2013, I teamed up with Melinda Gates the Gates Foundation a to launch an initiative called No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project to Advance Rights and Opportunities for Women and Girls around the world. I also created a program called Too Small to Fail, to encourage reading, talking and singing to infants and toddlers, to help their brains develop and build vocabulary. […]
None of these programs had to poll well or fit on a bumper sticker; they just had to make a positive difference in the world. After years in the political trenches, that was both refreshing and rewarding.
I can imagine what a difference Clinton was experiencing as she spent more time with the Clinton Foundation and started to build her own sense of strategy into the organization’s mission. But her involvement with her own family’s foundation was destined to have devastating consequences to her political career.
I knew from experience that if I ran for president again, everything that Bill and I had ever touched would be subject to scrutiny and attack, including the foundation. That was a concern, but I never imagined that this widely respected global charity would be as savagely smeared and attacked as it was. For years, the foundation and CGI had been supported by republicans and democrats alike. Independent philanthropy watchdogs, Charity Watch, Guidestar, and Charity Navigator, gave the the Clinton Foundation top marks for reducing overhead and having a measurable, positive impact. […]
But none of that stopped brutal partisan attacks from raining down during the campaign.
I have written by the Foundation at some length because a recent analysis published in the Columbia Journalism Review showed that during the campaign, there was twice as much written about the Clinton Foundation as there was on any of the Trump scandals, and nearly all it was negative. That gets to me.
It gets to me, too. In a big way. It is a wrong that must be addressed by a full investigation into the media manipulation that skewed the election. It was nearly impossible to learn real information about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. Even my 10 year old daughter was coming home from school with talking points for me about how Clinton’s emails needed to be more fully investigated.
Back to Hillary:
As Daniel Borochoff, the founder of Charity Watch put it, “If Hillary Clinton wasn’t running for President, the Clinton Foundation would be seen as one of the great humanitarian charities of our generation.”
That’s right. The fake news on the Clinton Foundation may have had a profound impact, given that there was twice as much of that fake news heaped on the American media consumer than any of the much more atrocious news stories about Donald Trump, including his sexual assault of a woman and his University’s fraudulent dealings.
I hope to share more about the book as I continue on, but there is no doubt that you should listen to it yourself. For what it’s worth, I also find listening to the book recharges my battery for making the democratic party a stronger entity. The urgency of the party’s need to take back the country in the next election has never felt so real. The book also renews my respect for Clinton and her life work. She is not a perfect human being, but she is a darn good one, and she would have made an excellent leader of our country.
Philanthropy Women will also publish a review of the book from Tim Lehnert in the coming weeks.
While awareness about gender and racial bias has been growing in nonprofits and foundations, particularly over the past 30 years, the leadership of those organizations has primarily remained white, straight and male. One foundation has been steadily fighting to change that, though, and now, its fight is more important than ever.
Third Wave Fund has been around for over 25 years, and is celebrating its 20-year anniversary as a foundation. The fund was founded by Rebecca Walker, daughter of renowned writer Alice Walker, and Dawn Lundy Martin, Catherine Gund, and Amy Richards, who recognized the extreme underfunding of grassroots feminist activism, and set out to remedy this funding gap.
I was eager to talk to Rye Young, Executive Director of Third Wave Fund, particularly in light of the increasingly hostile climate for transgender people, with President Trump calling for a ban on transgender people in the military. I wanted to know about how funds are being deployed to fight back against the new forms of prejudice and exclusion in the U.S.
Mr. Young has been leading Third Wave Fund since January of 2014, and has been active in the organization since he started as an intern 2008. During that time, he has seen some unthinkable rollbacks for gender and reproductive justice. But Trump’s attempted ban on transgender people in the military hit hard.
“He [Trump] made it clear that he will sacrifice trans lives for political gain,” said Mr. Young, in a recent Youtube video asking for donations to the Flush Transphobia Fund, a fund run by Third Wave that is directing resources to fighting trans discrimination and anti-trans legislation.
Along with responding to the clear and present dangers of the Trump agenda, Third Wave Fund continues its long-term commitment to being the place in philanthropy where women and LGBTQ people are at the center of the conversation.
“A lot of what we do is bridge-building in philanthropy, bringing a racial and economic justice voice, and a gender justice voice, into social justice philanthropy at large,” said Mr. Young, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women.
But at Third Wave, the numbers are quite different. The staff and board of Third Wave Fund is 90% women and 70% people of color.
So, to support nonprofits that reflect the communities they serve, Third Wave has recently launched the Own Our Power Fund and will be announcing their first round of grantees this fall. This fund will make one and two-year capacity-building grants of up to $25,000 for projects that seek to increase self-representation in the nonprofit arena, and bolster the community-driven leadership of the organization.
Third Wave Fund gives out grants in three basic ways. “We need to respond to crises, but we also need to support the long-term growth of our own infrastructure,” said Young, of the overall strategy of their grantmaking.
“The first is through our rapid response fund, Mobilize Power. That fund gives away grants every month, to address urgent needs that are evolving on the ground,” said Young. He cited one of their grantees, Black Youth Project 100 and its Say Her Name Campaign, which has thrust into public view the little-discuses problem of violence against women and girls of color.
Another powerful example of a Mobilize Power grantee is The Icarus Project, which conducted webinars to support queer and trans femmes of color and suicide support. Young cited this work as an example of how Third Wave Fund supports healing work and helps its own community choose wellness as they are taking on these emotionally challenging, physically draining campaigns. “Four hundred people attended these webinars,” said Young. “That was a sign that healing space is important and helps activists show up and continue to work on these long-term challenges.”
Next is the Own our Own Power Fund, discussed above, which is building the capacity of community-led non-profit organizations.
Finally, there is the Grow Power Fund. The Grow Power Fund gets at the long-term infrastructure-building for non-profits led by young women and LGBTQ youth of color, providing 6-year grants to organizations that are new and emerging. “Far from being a social matter, we believe that women’s and LGBTQ issues are fundamental to how power is organized in his country. We need long-term solutions if we expect to see new progress and lasting change.” said Young, of the underlying reasons that this grantmaking is part of their strategy.
The Immigrant Youth Coalition out of Los Angeles, California, which advocates for immigrant and undocumented trans youth and their families, is an example of a recent Grow Power Fund grantee. Another is Trans Queer Pueblo, in Phoenix, Arizona, which is addressing the needs of trans women of color impacted by detention for immigration issues.
And who are some of the funders of Third Wave Fund? There are about 10 foundation funders. A review of the Foundation Center’s 990 records turns up several multi-year funders, which include Craig’s List Foundation, Overbrook Foundation, Arcus, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Groundswell, Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation, the Joshua Mailman Foundation and the Overbrook Foundation. For a sense of the size of some of these grants, Arcus gave Third Wave $134,580 in 2015 for its Mobilizing Power Fund. Craig’s List made consecutive $10,000 donations in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Other funders include Morningstar Foundation, which made an $8,000 grant in 2015 for general operating support. In 2011, The Sister Fund, founded by Helen LaKelly Hunt, made a $10,000 grant for general operating support.
Along with receiving foundation support, Third Wave Fund has a long list of individual donors, many of whom give at the major donor level of $1000 or more.
Want to know more about Third Wave and its leadership? Check out Third Wave Executive Director Rye Young on being transgender, from MTV’s Look Different Series:
“To me, being trans means being alive and in touch with who I am. It means contributing to a world in which we can expect to be safe and free no matter what we look like or what our various certificates of birth or plastic cards in our wallets say.
Trans and gender non-conforming people’s private and public lives are often smashed together. What we do to feel comfortable leaving the house can put us at risk with our family, a police officer, our school, our employer, the airport security guard, the cashier checking your I.D. to buy beer and force us out of places we want to go like the gym locker room or the bathroom, and wreak havoc in places we might want to avoid like the juvenile justice system.
Because gender complicates our public lives, trans people with economic and race privilege (such as myself) have it much easier by not depending on social services or by rarely encountering law enforcement. For example, I don’t depend on Medicaid which means I can seek out trans-affirming doctors. For a trans person on Medicaid, there are fewer choices and a higher likelihood of being kicked out of a facility or experiencing bad care. So, while I do experience bias, I also experience the ways that privileged white men are treated better in the United States.”