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

Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, shares her epiphanies about this past year, and her vision of a more feminist future to come.

Like many organizations in the women’s funding community, Women’s Funding Network had a robust year of working on the issues most important to women, including financial empowerment, collaborating with men as allies, and strategic leveraging as a donor and an advocate.

To go a little deeper into this past year of activity in feminist philanthropy, we decided to talk to Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network, and hear about what it felt like to run one of the most important organizations in the women’s funding space.

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High Net Worth Women Who Drove Progressive Giving in the Midterms

Women, and particularly women of color, made historic gains in the 2018 elections. Much of this new political activity was driven by progressive women donors.

The election of Donald Trump has sparked a wave of political activism never seen before, particularly among progressive donors.

According to the Center for Responsive Politic’s data, the top 154 donors spent a combined total of over $700 million this election cycle, with Democrats and progressives spending an estimated total of $327 million in this election, and Republicans and conservatives spending an estimated $350 million.

While the Center for Responsive Politics is reporting that this year’s midterms were by far the most expensive in history, with a large share of that spending coming from the right, another large share of that spending involved progressive women donors opening their wallets to fund the protection of key civil liberties including reproductive rights, health care, and social inclusion.

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Post Election Buzz: Women’s Funds Welcome New Reflective Democracy

Women, and particularly women of color, made historic gains in the 2018 elections.

How do you create better leadership? By electing quality leaders that reflect the values of the people. With the 2018 elections, Americans have elected more leaders than ever who share a vision to make the country more inclusive and safe,  particularly for women, minorities, and marginalized populations.

As feminist philanthropy leaders praise the outcome of the 2018 elections, they are also using this moment to continue advocating for the causes of women’s rights and reproductive freedom.  “Women’s Funding Network was created 30 years ago to increase women’s leadership in all arenas – media, corporate, policy, philanthropic. Progress is made every day,” tweeted Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network.  “Today, so proud to see a more inclusive democracy in America.”

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$10 Million to Train Women’s Health Leaders at UCLA Med School

Iris Cantor will endow a chair at the David Geffen School of Medicine. Funds will also help to train new leaders in the field of women’s health.

If you are a woman who needs medical care, it often becomes crystal clear to you that the health care system doesn’t understand your problems very well. As celebrity chef and gender equality advocate Padma Lakshmi put it at the recent Social Good Summit in New York, when speaking about her own difficulties getting care for endometriosis: “I realized there was a lot of misogyny in the health care system.”

But hopefully as we progress in medicine, misogyny will be rooted out, and more doctors will learn how to attend to the full spectrum of women’s medical concerns. To aid in that process, a $10 million commitment was recently made by philanthropist Iris Cantor to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. These funds will be used to advance the medical school’s work to educate and train both clinicians and researchers in the field of women’s health care.

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This Social Enterprise Helps Women See Strategies for Giving Up-Close


Jacquie Love becoming a student for the day at ZOE International rescue house in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

As feminist strategies in philanthropy continue to grow, new organizations are being created to serve the needs of this sector.  Among these new organizations is the Secret Sisterhood, founded by Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Jacquie Love. Launched in the second half of 2017, the enterprise reports already having 40,000 women in its network.

Along with creating jewelry that celebrates gender equality and women’s leadership, the Secret Sisterhood conducts “philanthropic journeys” —  travel events in the developing world that offer women an opportunity to see first-hand how philanthropy can aid in gender equality movements. The journeys have four aims — empowering female entrepreneurs in developing nations, reducing human trafficking, eliminating violence against women, and providing education for girls.

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

Gender Matters by Kathleen E. Loehr explores how fundraisers can widen the aperture on their lens for approaching donors in order to maximize women’s giving.

Once you study women’s philanthropy for long enough, you begin to recognize that a confluence of events relating to women and giving are changing the philanthropy landscape in significant ways. One of the scholars who has studied women’s philanthropy and done this dot-connecting is Kathleen E. Loehr. In her new book, Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy, Loehr addresses the important question of how fundraisers and those committed to women’s giving can take specific actions that will increase women’s philanthropy – already an area of giving scheduled for a large uptick in the near future.

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Women Funders Urge Investigation of Sexual Assault Allegations

Christine Blasey Ford testified this morning before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Women funders have come together to release a joint statement in support of Dr. Ford.

Today is a remarkable day in American history, particularly for survivors of sexual assault. Today, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, bringing to light her experiences with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his alleged attempt to rape her while they were in high school. “Brett’s assault on me drastically changed my life,” she stated, and went on to recount the many ways that her life was changed by the trauma. 

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Jacki Zehner Lets It Rip As She Exits Women Moving Millions Leadership

Jessica Houssian, Jacki Zehner, and Kathy LeMay, September 2018 Annual Women Moving Millions Summit in Seattle, sponsored by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Wow, what a read. I had to keep stopping at points to walk around the block and get my core energetics realigned. Jacki Zehner literally pours her heart out in this stunning blog post where she shares about her experiences rising to the C-Suite at Goldman Sachs, as well as her intense love for gender equality philanthropy, which has been expressed in over a decade of devotion to growing one of the most important organizations in gender equality philanthropy, Women Moving Millions.

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Feminists Everywhere: Seattle Hosts WMM and WFN at Same Time

Women Moving Millions is having its annual summit and member day on September 13 at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. At the same time in Seattle, Women’s Funding Network is convening its membership at The Collective in Seattle. Both groups will come together in the evening at the Gates Foundation.

Both the Women’s Funding Network and Women Moving Millions are in Seattle today, meeting with their members. The Women Moving Millions event is co-hosted by the Gates Foundation, and both groups will be meeting up to discuss their work in the evening at the Gates Foundation.

One might wonder if this is an indicator of the increasing involvement of the Gates Foundation in gender equality philanthropy. And, in fact, the evening will close with a cocktail hour for the Women’s Funding Network hosted by Women Moving Millions at the Gates Foundation, so there will be some time for the three networks to compare notes.

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Untapped Power: U.S. Must Hire More Young Women of Color

Members of the Young Women’s Cabinet in Minnesota, along with Women’s Foundation of Minnesota CEO Lee Roper-Batker and Minnesota Governor, Mark Dayton.

Editor’s Note: As we end another Labor Day weekend, it’s a pleasure for me to share this editorial from women leaders in Minnesota, who are reminding us that young women, and particularly young women of color, are a huge untapped resource in our economy. The need for employers to hire more young women of color is not isolated to Minnesota — it is an issue that is being addressed by a national collaborative of women’s foundations working to ensure that young women of color can prosper economically and live safe, healthy lives. This editorial is c0-authored by Jennifer Alstad (Founder & CEO, bswing), Debra Fitzpatrick (Co-director, Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy, University of Minnesota), and Lee Roper-Batker (President & CEO, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota)

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