Beyond Planning Fundraisers: How Women’s Giving Circles Move Millions for Children’s Nonprofits

Jacqueline Caster

“When you think of the big gala events, you have to scratch your head and say, ‘why do people go to all that effort?’ I mean, those can be effective fundraisers, if done responsibly. But when they net very little or fail to  break even, doing nothing but raising awareness, I don’t buy into that.”

These are the words of Jacqueline Caster, founder and president of the Everychild Foundation, and master of the art of creating women’s giving circles—an effective and increasingly popular way to raise money.

The Everychild Foundation model has had a significant impact, and not just locally. It has been replicated by over 15 organizations, including two in London, some in other states, and many throughout California.

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Philanthropy Women Will Be at Dream, Dare, Do in Chicago. How About You?

I am making my plans to be at Dream, Dare, Do in Chicago, the 2017 Symposium of the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute, happening on March 14-15. Why? Because I believe it is more necessary than ever to pay attention to women’s leadership, particularly in philanthropy.

I believe women’s leadership in philanthropy is an essential key to social progress, and an important way to grow that leadership is by valuing it more and making it more visible to the public. So I will be there — raising the visibility of women like Ruth Ann Harnisch, founder of The Harnisch Foundation,  Hali Lee, Founder of the Asian Women’s Giving Circle, and Marsha Morgan, Vice Chair of the Community Investment Network.

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Hot Topics and Trends for Women and Philanthropy, 2016

Leaders of Dallas Women’s Foundation, California Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, New York Women’s Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham and Ms. Foundation on stage at the United State of Women Summit on June 14, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

In 2016, we saw the power of women grow in society like never before, and their influence in philanthropy continued to increase simultaneously. Women Give 2016, the yearly research series from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, revealed how Millennial women are coming to philanthropy with a different mindset, and are influencing strategies and dollar amounts of giving in new and important ways. Additionally, the study found that women’s participation in the labor force has increased, resulting in heightened power for women in financial decision-making both independently and for their households.

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Building Out Funding for Women and Girls in Anti-Feminist Political Times

Gender equity work will continue, though the U.S. may no longer be world leaders on that front.  (weep, weep)

Let’s face it: it’s going to be a rough time for gender equity over the next four years, if not longer. In my private practice as a therapist, just days after the election, I saw a clear uptick in violent and threatening behavior toward my domestic violence clients. This may have just been coincidence, but I wondered. Suddenly, a very old threat was a new threat again.

This article from ReutersWomen’s Rights Face a Daunting New Year Worldwide, Campaigners Warn, lays out clearly where and how movements for gender equality will be hurting in the coming years. Work to end violence against women is going to face major challenges, as will work to keep access to contraception and abortion available. And the list goes on.

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Women in Charge: What’s Donna Hall Doing for Women’s Empowerment?

Donna Hall, President and CEO, Women Donors Network, speaking at the WDN 2015 conference in New Orleans.

I wrote this profile of Donna Hall, President and CEO of the Women Donors Network, in February of 2016, but now it seems truer than ever. With the recent news that the Women Donors Network is partnering with Solidaire to lead a funding effort aimed at defending vulnerable people against a hostile government, the Women Donors Network is, again, not picking the easy fights, and going boldly into terrain that other, larger foundations seems to be approaching more hesitantly.

Related: Women Donors Network and Solidaire Join Forces to Create New Fund

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Women Donors Network and Solidaire Join Forces to Create New Fund

Many of us are wondering on a daily basis what will happen to marginalized communities under a Trump administration. Now, the Women Donors Network and Solidaire are teaming up to do something with that concern: raise money to defend and include.

With a goal of raising $500,000 between now and Inauguration Day, January 20, The Emergent Fund will work to fund organizations that defend marginalized groups particularly threatened by a Trump presidency. The populations they will work to protect include “immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, Black people, LGBT communities, and all people of color.”

From the press release:

We don’t know exactly what will come, but we must be prepared. We do know that there are strong leaders and organized movements on the ground in these communities, and we know that their work has been historically under-resourced. Now is the time for us to use our collective power to stand with them and support them in what they are doing, to listen to what they need, and to fund the new strategies that will emerge over the next 2-4 years.

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Jacki Zehner: “The Case Has Been Made” for Gender Equity in Business

Jacki Zehner, chief engagement officer for Women Moving Millions, with board member Susan Morrison.

Jacki Zehner, chief engagement officer of Women Moving Millions, wants to see corporations—particularly financial services firms—put their money where the research is when it comes to gender equity, and more specifically, women’s empowerment, inclusion, and leadership. Why? It is not only in their best interest, but key to economic stability and growth.

Zehner is one of a new breed of philanthropic leaders who transitioned from a successful career in business, bringing that knowledge and experience with her. She knows the gap between talk and action on gender equity in corporations well. Though Zehner’s career was made in fixed-income trading, rising at Goldman Sachs to make partner in 1996, her passion was women’s issues, and that passion led her to a position in the firm’s executive office where her role was, in part, to champion diversity and inclusion.

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“Modesty Does Not Serve Women’s Leadership.” Ruth Ann Harnisch on What It Will Take for Women to Lead

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Ruth Ann Harnisch

You can’t get much closer to the epicenter of creativity, social justice, and women’s empowerment than the Harnisch Foundation (theHF). Through its focus on empowering women and girls of all backgrounds, its innovative grantmaking toward women and media, and its latest Funny Girls grant initiative that teaches resilience and leadership through improv, theHF’s work spans some of the most relevant and important missions in philanthropy today.

How did Ruth Ann Harnisch rise to her current position, with an amazing career in journalism and media under her belt, as well as 17 years at the helm of a foundation carrying out many unique and creative initiatives for women and girls?

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Helen LaKelly Hunt: Feminism and Philanthropy Are Converging to Create a New Relationship Culture

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Helen LaKelly Hunt

If you spend time reading about women and philanthropy, you will invariably come across Helen LaKelly Hunt. Along with her sister, Swanee Hunt, these two feminist philanthropists are major players in the women’s funding movement, which hit the big leagues in the past decade as high-net-worth women began to make gifts of over $1 million dollars to fund causes for women and girls.  

While researching for her dissertation on the origins of American feminism, Hunt discovered that 19th century women didn’t fund the suffrage movement. Instead, they funded things like their husband’s alma maters, churches (where they had no voice) and the arts. Years later, when women began pledging and making million-dollar gifts to women’s funds, Hunt captured that history in a book called the Trailblazer book, which was circulated to other women donors. This compilation of women’s testimonies helped catalyze the founding of Women Moving Millions.  

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Obama Summit Delivers Good News on Gender, and Women’s Funds Step Up Again

Leaders of Dallas Women’s Foundation, California Women’s Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, New York Women’s Foundation, Washington Area Women’s Foundation, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham and Ms. Foundation on stage at the United State of Women Summit on June 14 in Washington, D.C.

Here’s some good news this week, in case you need a little cheering up: The Obama administration hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C. With Michelle Obama and Oprah headlining the event, this convergence included many old and new fighters for gender equality including Darren Walker, Gloria Steinem, Matt McGorry and Amy Poehler.

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