Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 19, 2017 and has been updated to include more organizations and funders addressing sexual assault prevention.
In the age of #MeToo, it will probably come as little surprise to learn that I am also a survivor of sexual assault. I don’t want to go into the details here (if you want the full story on that, you can watch this video). When I became a social worker, I chose to build my professional life around helping survivors both heal and fight for justice. Over the past 25 years, I have treated hundreds of sexual assault survivors and their families. I have helped people achieve justice, and I have also seen many survivors choose not to engage with the justice system for fear of being further traumatized. Sadly, that fear is not unrealistic.
Editor’s Note: the following post was originally published on February 3, 2021.
Here at Philanthropy Women, we started a series called Feminist Giving In Real Life (F-GIRL) to provide a platform for women leaders at all levels who are giving in a feminist way. This giving can happen through donations and funding strategy, through professional excellence, and/or through leadership efforts in the community. Feminist giving is a form of leadership that has special impact because it often combines deeply personal experience and significantly political thinking and acting.
Yesterday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez performed what I would call a supreme act of feminist giving. When AOC spoke out against the January 6th riots and connected these riots to her experience of being sexually traumatized, she simultaneously stood up for every human who has experience sexual assault, and challenged the largest political body of our country to acknowledge how the January 6th riots are part of a continuum of pervasive violence against women, people of color, and other marginalized groups.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 3, 2020.
Since I launched Philanthropy Women in 2017, and even before then, I have been paying close attention to the trends, as well as the big plays and strategy shifts, happening in feminist giving. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to enumerate some of those gender equality giving trends and other happenings, and flesh out what they mean both now and for the future of philanthropy.
1. Women Funders Are Getting More Ambitious With Their Strategies
I see women funders getting more ambitious with their strategies in many different ways, both in terms of the subjects they will fund as well as the approaches they are willing to try. This means they are doing bolder things with their money, which often translates into helping our culture to become more inclusive and knowledgeable about difference. For example, Mona Sinha, Chair of the Women Moving Millions Board, has done some amazing work lately supporting the documentary Disclosure. This film does groundbreaking work in terms of exploring the growing world of gender transition, helping this community to be seen and valued by society. Being unafraid to cross the barrier and fund the LGBTQ community is just one of the many bold strategies that more feminist funders are adopting more frequently.
On July 14th, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) welcomed Imara Jones and Malachi Garza to their Board of Directors. Jones, recently announced as a Nathan Cummings Fellow, and Garza, organizing director of Solidaire Network, join a robust team of educators, funders, and educator advocates devoted to creating affirming educational environments for LGBTQ+ youth.
Founded in 1990 by a group of teachers who identified educators’ role in creating a safe and learning-conducive environment for LGBTQ+ students, GLSEN leverages educational activism, extensive research, and student-led movements to uplift evidence-based solutions for LGBTQ+ youth.
Editor’s Note: This interview was originally published in July, 2017.
I have spent the past few years observing, writing about, and getting more involved in the world of women’s philanthropy. During that time, multiple experts have referred to the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw as being essential to the changes we now see going on in philanthropy, with more efforts to apply both a gender and race lens when framing problems and funding new strategies.
Indeed, with her scholarship, advocacy, and legal expertise, Crenshaw has helped build and disseminate whole new areas of knowledge including critical race theory and intersectional theory. These concepts have helped philanthropists like Peter Buffett and organizations like the NoVo Foundation apply an inclusive gender and race lens that values and addresses the needs of women and girls of color in the United States.
Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL seriesfeatures Janeen Comenote, Executive Director of the National Urban Indian Family Coalition and Marguerite Casey Foundation board member.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
When I first started working in the nonprofit sector over 20 years ago, the concept of philanthropy was completely foreign to me and, frankly, intimidating. I wish I would have known then that my lived professional, personal, and cultural experience is an important story for philanthropy to hear. I think there is real power in sharing our stories with one another and philanthropy needs to hear our collective stories. When I first started my career, it was in a sort of silo, I was unaware of how invisible the Native community was in the larger philanthropic, and American, diaspora. I think, had I known then how profoundly that realization would shape my career, I may have utilized additional messaging about it earlier.
A recently revealed trend of female entrepreneurs using fake male assistants demonstrates how gender norms play out in business communication.
It is no surprise that women in business, especially those who are themselves entrepreneurs, face unique difficulties. A number of women have spoken out about this. A few women have even come out to reveal how they navigate these issues.
One way they have found helps their work is by having a fake male assistant who handles certain tasks.
Kelly Doody and Jandra Sutton are two such entrepreneurs who utilize this tactic. Doody is the CEO of Social School, and Sutton is a podcaster. Sutton revealed her use of a fake male assistant in a tiktok that went viral, seen here.
This summer saw the return of events around the world dedicated to feminist funding, and chief among them was the annual #GenerationEquality Forum, held online and in Paris from June 3oth to July 2nd.
Topics ranged from progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the pandemic’s impact on women’s empowerment to notes on our progress from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The ultimate attitude of the Forum was one of anticipation and excitement: as the impact of the pandemic lessens around the world, we can look forward to a time of progress toward #GenerationEquality goals and recoup the social losses from COVID-19.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
I wish I had known to counter any external and internalized messages about individual leadership accomplishments with the recognition that we are deeply interdependent on others for our success. I would have been even more vulnerable and drawn strength from my community and led in a way that created conditions for even greater connectedness amongst different organizations, networks, and alliances. Sometimes I focused on my own team and organization’s needs over all sectoral, movement building and ecosystem level concerns. But if the ecosystem doesn’t thrive then each organism within it also suffers. So as feminist leaders, we have to continuously nurture the whole ecosystem.
The New York Women’s Foundation has given nearly $3M in grants to organizations helping underserved communities post-pandemic.
On June 28th, The New York Women’s Foundation announced almost $3 million in grants reflecting the organization’s fundamental strategy of early and long-term investment in community-rooted organizations led by women and gender expansive people addressing critical issues in underinvested communities. The Foundation’s latest round of grants are critically important to women, gender expansive people and their families in a post-COVID reality. The Foundation is charging ahead and bolstering investments in advancing racial equity, ending mass incarceration in New York City, increasing economic stability for low-income families, and eliminating gender-based violence.