In the world of philanthropy, it’s a little unusual to hear about a public debate between high level professionals. We have a lot of panel discussions, and not so many debates. But Philanthropy New York (PNY) clearly has other ideas.
PNY, “a regional association of grantmakers with global impact,” is sponsoring a debate between two very different leaders in the philanthropy sector. Picture, if you will, the matchup:
In this corner, we have David Callahan, Founder and Publisher of Inside Philanthropy, and author of the forthcoming title, The Givers, a riveting text that makes you question everything you know about philanthropy, and which lands squarely on the side of tightening up taxation and regulation of the rich. Furthermore, it makes you want to run laps around the block to vent your rage at the rampant inequality in today’s world.
How is Bollywood actor and activist Mallika Sherawat helping girls escape lives of sex trafficking? One girl at a time, by enrolling them in the School for Justice.
Sherawat is an ambassador of the Free a Girl Movement and a supporter of the School for Justice, opening today in Mumbai, India.
But freeing the girls is only part of the story. The larger part of social change being driven by Mallika Sherawat and other community activists in India is about correcting the systems of justice that do not prevent the crimes from happening again. Here’s how Mallika Sherawat explains it: “By freeing the girls, we’re not changing the system that allows this crime to happen. To break this cycle, we will attack a key factor: the fact that the perpetrators are not being punished. Because they are not punished, they can continue with their crimes.”
She’s young, she’s highly educated, and she likes to be involved in funding strategy — all traits that suggest Priscilla Chan will be making an enormous impact on philanthropy over the next decade and beyond.
“Chan is a hands-on leader of Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), taking charge of many of the day-to-day operational details of scaling up a large philanthropic enterprise,” David Callahan recently told me. Callahan is founder and publisher of Inside Philanthropy, and interviewed Chan for his new book, The Givers, due out April 11th.
“Chan has spent all of her adult life as a front-line practitioner working with vulnerable families, and brings that mindset and experience to CZI,” observed Callahan. “You can see that most recently in the new housing initiative to stop low-income families from being displaced in Silicon Valley.”
Priscilla Chan is only getting started on her philanthropy journey, and yet some of ways she is doing things suggest a very different trajectory for the future. While Melinda Gates, at about age 50, arrived at a more defined plan to make gender equity central to her work, we don’t know yet where gender equality will land in Priscilla Chan’s list of priorities. In the video below, she credits Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her feminist role model, which suggests she takes seriously the progressive agenda for women, including access to health care and contraception, and equal pay for equal work.
It All Hinges on Inclusiveness — and That’s Where Feminism Comes In
The Chan-Zuckerberg vision of a better world appears to be strongly aligned with the feminist philanthropy agenda of inclusiveness and equality.
“Could we build more inclusive and welcoming communities?” asks Zuckerberg, in this video with Chan in which he talks about his “basic moral responsibility” to make investments that will move us toward this more inclusive community.
Helen LaKelly Hunt, longtime funder of women’s philanthropy and seed investor in the New York Women’s Foundation, the Dallas Foundation, and the Women’s Funding Network, also thinks Priscilla Chan is bringing something new — and important — to philanthropy: the ability to be more relational in strategic planning.
“Priscilla and Mark are modeling strategic philanthropy – not just in terms of how the funds land, but in how they are doing philanthropy. They are doing it in a relational way,” said Helen LaKelly Hunt, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. Helen is author of the forthcoming title, And the Spirit Moved Them, due out on April 17th, which tells the lost history of feminism’s earliest roots — finding that racial equality as well as gender equality were on the original agenda of the earliest suffragettes.
“There is great power in unleashing your money into the world toward cultural transformation. Priscilla and Mark are doing this in a way that it is also transformational, and radical – they are doing it together in partnership,” emphasized Hunt.
“Funding in partnership is not always easy, but the union of perspectives make for a richer outcome, and more vital and effective work,” added Hunt, who, along with her husband Harville Hendrix, created Imago Couples Therapy and have recently launched a new initiative to help couples called Safe Conversations.
In the interview at Forbes 2016 Women’s Summit, Priscilla described how Mark helps her stay focused on goals, and she plays a complementary role for him by giving him the context of real world people encountered as patients or students.
“I force him to learn more about — what’s the context? What are we trying to do? Who are the people involved? What are the cultures that we are trying to work with? How can we learn more from the people already doing the work?”
“In all honesty, it’s really fun, and we have a lot to learn from each other,” said Chan. Translation: Chan gets that philanthropy is pretty much the most fun you can have in life, and she’s excited that she gets to do it with Zuckerberg. This is a huge shift in how men and women in high net worth couples have traditionally functioned. What was once a conversation between couples often dominated by men is now a lively exchange where two people challenge each other’s ideas in order to reach a more informed conclusion.
“We are complementary, and we drive each other and really challenge each other to think more deeply about the questions that we’re faced with,” Chan said.
Here’s Where It All Links Up: Health Care, Feminism, and the Future of Inclusive Philanthropy
So why am I telling this story and raising the visibility of Priscilla Chan for women in philanthropy? (By the way, I did attempt to contact Priscilla Chan for an interview through LinkedIn, where she is listed as a member of the staff of The Primary School, but I did not receive a response. I will be sending her a link to this post, and I hope she will consider responding in the future.)
I am talking about this because Priscilla Chan helps illustrate the story of how feminism is changing philanthropy. Priscilla Chan comes to her philanthropy as a doctor who has already practiced for a number of years and has seen close-up what today’s problems look like. She is also a feminist, and I would argue that her feminism is destined to grow, as she becomes a mother to two girls soon, and parents them in their journey to adulthood.
Access to health care is at the top of the agenda for many progressive and feminist foundations, and I believe (full disclosure: I am also a health care provider as an LICSW therapist) health care should continue to be on top of the agenda for women in philanthropy. Leaders like Priscilla Chan get the importance of health care in a profound way, explaining why the CZI’s biohub is now investing $50 million in 47 new initiatives aimed at tackling health problems. CZI is also investing in strategies to bring more inclusiveness to education and housing access.
With leaders like Priscilla Chan giving to the fight both for health care and for gender equality, we will be more likely to move the policy agenda toward a civil society where all have are treated equally, and all have equal access to health care as a public good.
The Future of Inclusive Philanthropy
Chan embodies what could be the dawn of a new era of Inclusive Philanthropy. The market economies and the democratic systems that govern the world are beginning to recognize the importance of inclusiveness, and this is partially due to efforts of both progressives and feminists to open the door to inclusiveness of all kinds. Many multinational corporations such as Bank of America, Barclay’s, Walmart, and Coca-Cola, all supporting workplaces that are more inclusive of LGBT communitites, and have set goals for achieving gender equity in hiring and pay. More governments are recognizing same sex marriage and calling for an end to laws which discriminate based on race or gender.
In addition, organizations like CZI appear to be tasking themselves with the agenda of building more inclusive societies. But while the agenda of CZI appears very liberal and both Mark and Priscilla talk clearly about wanting to open up opportunity for all people, the agenda for Facebook is less clear. This article reports that Facebook donated $100,000 to the Conservative Political Action Committee, which funds conferences with panels like “If Heaven Has a Gate, A Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” and “Armed and Fabulous: The New Normal.” It was also willing to provide a platform for racist, sexist, homophobic Milo Yiannopoulos before he went too far, even for conservatives, and appeared to be a supporter of pedophilia.
Facebook also supported Netroots Nation, one of the largest annual gatherings of progressive activists as well as the Personal Democracy Forum, an organization which “investigates how politics and technology work together.”Read More
I recently returned from DREAM. DARE. DO. in Chicago, the every-three-year (maybe more often now!) convening of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.
Wow. I am still reeling from the experience. It was an intense two days of immersion in conversation about women’s leadership in philanthropy, where it is coming from and where it will be going in the brave new political climate of a Trump presidency.
WPI recently received a $2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support its work, and the conference started with a video welcome from none other than Melinda Gates, talking about the “unique and powerful role” that women play in philanthropy, both nationally and globally.
The 27 speakers at the WPI conference helped to expand the conversation on women and philanthropy in several important ways. Just a few examples:
Vini Bhansali of Thousand Currents challenged members of the philanthropy women community to recognize discrimination or prejudice happening among us. “Don’t just talk about feminism – practice daily acts of sisterhood.”
Casey Harden, YWCA USA shared how the YWCA maintains inclusiveness as a core value, and that the organization does not agree with the Trump administration’s ban on Muslims.
“My dream is that saffron would replace opium as the primary crop of Afghanistan.” Kimberly Jung, CEO and Co-founder of Rumi Spice, shared her experience as a for-profit leader with a social impact agenda, and described her desire to build a for-profit business as being tied to her company’s vision of its sustainability.
Kristin Goss, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, shared her knowledge about the history of women’s legislative advocacy in Washington, showing the trends over time. Goss reminded us that women win elections at the same rate as men, and if more women ran for office, we’d have more women IN office.
Jacki Zehner of Women Moving Millions spoke about the need for women to talk about money, even if it makes them uncomfortable. She alluded to the renowned Helen LaKelly Hunt, one of the founders of Women Moving Millions, who helped women to break through the barrier of their discomfort about asking for and giving a million dollars to fund gender equity initiatives.
“Let nothing stand between you and the people you are trying to connect to,” said Ruth Ann Harnisch, President of the Harnisch Foundation, while discussing the power of media to impact social change, with Dianne Lynch, President of Stephens College. Harnisch also responded to an audience question about the movie Equity by reminding participants of the double standard in film where we expect films to portray women acting heroically, but we don’t hold men to this same standard.
One of the most heartfelt moments in the conference was when Tracy Gary received the Shaw-Hardy Taylor Achievement Award. Gary, author of Inspired Philanthropy and longtime advocate for advancing women’s philanthropy, gave an impassioned plea for women to get stronger in their commitment of dollars and time to philanthropy.
In making the Award, Shaw-Hardy noted that when she and Taylor co-authored their landmark book, Women and Philanthropy, Gary was one of the chief knowledge sources they called upon to learn about the world of women’s giving.
Gary had some of the most interesting and thought-provoking things to say at the conference, which makes sense given her four decades of experience with the field. She reminded the audience that one of her big keys to success is simply showing up. She is one of those people who makes it to many conferences a year, and noted that her ongoing visibility and accessibility are essential traits to her success. She talked about the importance of setting aside money in your budget as a woman philanthropist in order to attend conferences and be part of the visible leadership of the movement.
“We need to stop letting men be in charge,” said Gary, and, “Learning to love is learning to listen,” — both timeless messages that embody Gary’s fearless persistence in advancing the causes of women’s rights, LGBT rights, and other progressive causes. Gary was bold enough to say that if she were to get hit by a bus, she would be ecstatic, because she has laid out her giving plan and is looking forward to making those large donations. She also told the audience that she lost 100 pounds in the past year by cutting wheat, dairy, and sugar out of her diet, and these big changes are partially about wanting to be around to participate in the women’s philanthropy field for another twenty years at least.
Gary helped establish the Women’s Foundation of California in 1979-1980, one of the first locally based women’s funds in the country. She also helped build out several donor networks including the Women’s Funding Network, Women Donors Network, and Women Moving Millions.
In the last breakout session of the conference, I sat with a group of about 30 women. The legendary Jacki Zehner was leading the discussion, which centered on identify next action steps for women’s philanthropy as a whole. It was time for the rubber to meet the road. What were we going to do as a group, and where were we going to get the resources to do it?
Of course, these questions can never be answered quickly, but the conversation was intense, and involved much careful listening and questioning. Some of the priorities that received the highest votes from the group were:
1.) Establishing a hub for women’s philanthropy (Hey, sounds a lot like Philanthropy Women!).
2.) Establishing a shared policy agenda for women’s philanthropy.
3.) Identifying next steps for movement activities like The Women’s March.
Unfortunately, I had to rush out of this last break-out session, since I received a text that my shuttle to the airport had arrived early. Thankfully, I just made it to the van as the driver was closing the door to drive away.
But that’s okay, because the conversation is ongoing, as it should be. I saw on Twitter that a group of millennials from the conference is planning to do monthly update calls.
While the Trump Administration’s attacks against women, immigrants, LGBT, and people of color continue, foundations and nonprofits are coming together to fund the resistance. The latest batch of grantmaking in this department: the Emergent Fund recently granted $330,000 to community-based organizations at the front lines of the resistance.
A project of Women Donors Network (WDN), Solidaire Network, and Threshold Foundation, the Emergent Fund is a way for donors to increase their ability to strategically collaborate, coordinate, and act quickly to support the movement. The fund seeks to supply communities and their allies with the resources they need to create the change our country needs to fight back against the dangerous policy goals of the Trump Administration.
With grassroots activism on the rise across the country, we are seeing more and more funders step up to address populations who face multiple forms of marginalization, especially the combination of both gender and race.
Now, the NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color (the Fund), a collaboration of 16 foundations, has announced grants totaling $2.1 million, awarded to 28 non-profit organizations across the five boroughs.
These organizations are the ground-level hubs where young women and girls of color go in communities to engage in leadership development, health and employment advocacy, educational support, and help with community safety issues including violence against women.
“There’s a renewed sense of urgency, and a renewed sense of focusing on the biggest disparities for young women and girls. We find them localized around dimensions of racial and ethnic difference,” said Ana Oliveira, CEO of the New York Women’s Foundation, in a recent chat with Philanthropy Women about this new set of grants.
Oliveira described how The New York Women’s Foundation developed this multi-funder partnership that is granting this new money. “We began with our main partner, The NoVo Foundation, and said, ‘let’s come together and ignite a process with others.'”
The two foundations invited a host of their colleagues to join them in focusing on girls and young women of color, and many foundations took them up on the offer. The Ford Foundation came on board, as did other well-known and established progressive foundations, including the Surdna Foundation, the Schott Foundation, the Pinkerton Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, and the Foundation for a Just Society.
Communities foundations also stepped up and joined, including the New York Community Trust and the Brooklyn Community Foundation. Family foundations also came to the table including the Andrus Family Fund and the Cricket Island Foundation. Feminist Foundation allies the Ms. Foundation and Third Wave Fund also came on board.
“We’re just beginning,” said Oliveira, of the process of rounding up foundations to focus on young women and girls of color. “We are going to continue to invite colleagues in the foundation world to join our coalition. It’s more important now than ever.”
The Fund was initially launched by The New York Women’s Foundation and NoVo Foundation in 2014 as a way to increase philanthropic resources available to organizations that advance the leadership of New York’s girls and young women of color. The Fund also seeks to address longstanding barriers to opportunity for young women and girls of color at the structural level.
“We all want to get to the tipping point of supporting enough organizations that are helping women, that we can resolve economic and social injustice for women,” said Oliveira. “We want to make sure these organizations can do their work and grow. We want to make sure they are ready first responders in community fights for justice and equity.”
“If we want to create a world in which girls can live free from violence and discrimination, we must truly listen to them and follow their lead,” said Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation, in a press release announcing the grants. “Girls and young women of color are the best agents in transforming their communities and it’s time we invest in their leadership. That’s exactly what these grants will do.”
The 2016 NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women grantees are:
Ancient Song Doula Services
Arab American Association of New York
Arab American Family Support Center
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Black Women’s Blueprint
CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education
Community Connections for Youth, Inc.
DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving
Girls for Gender Equity
Make the Road New York
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
New York City Anti-Violence Project
Resilience Advocacy Project
Sadie Nash Leadership Project
South Asian Youth Action
S.O.U.L. Sisters Leadership Collective
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
The Alex House Project, Inc
The Audre Lorde Project, Inc.
The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
Turning Point for Women and Families
Welfare Rights Initiative
YWCA/The Young Women’s Christian Association Of The City Of New York $50,000