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.
First, of course, thank you for reading. You are bravely joining me on the sometimes harrowing adventure of learning about gender equality philanthropy. I thank you for joining me on this journey.
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Last week in New York, over 50 female philanthropists came together to launch a new educational scholarship fund for women.
At the occasion, the American Society of University of Haifa announced the founding of its new Women’s Scholarship Fund. The scholarship seeks to engage women at all levels of philanthropy and support female students at all levels of education.
“We are very committed to education. Education is the key to everything. It is something that you can’t take away and if you give someone an education, it will enable them to help themselves for the rest of their life,” said Lady Irene Hatter, who spoke at the gathering. With their philanthropy, Hatter and her husband, Sir Maurice Hatter, support World Jewish Relief and World ORT, a worldwide Jewish educational NGO.
Editor’s Note: This is an editorial by Ashindi Maxton, who is a Senior Advisor for the Women Donors Network (WDN), one of our Spotlight Organizations. The editorial tells the story of how WDN and its allies have been able to effectively bring in more partners to fund the resistance. As Ms. Maxton points out, the Threshold Fund and the Democracy Alliance joined WDN and Solidaire to expand the Emergent Fund, amplifying the ability of that fund to protect and empower marginalized communities.
Leaders from eight women’s funds across the country that spearheaded the Young Women’s Initiative received the 2018 Leadership and Diversity Award, given by the The Women’s Funding Network at their annual summit, taking place this week in San Francisco.
The New York Women’s Foundation is a 2017 recipient of The Women’s Funding Network’s Leadership and Diversity (LEAD) Award, for launching the first Young Women’s Initiative in partnership with the New York City Council and inspiring similar efforts by women’s foundations across the country.
Sustainable Harvest International Founder and President Florence Reed did not encounter many other women leaders in philanthropy when she started the organization in 1997. “I was flying by the seat of my pants. I literally went to a library and checked out a book on how to start a non-profit, and went through it chapter by chapter,” she recalled in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. Who knew then how successful her initiative would be: Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) was recently named by Charity Navigator as one of the “six highest-ranking charities in the sector making major strides to increase sustainable food production.”
For Helen LaKelly Hunt, three central passions drive her work: funding for gender equality, changing the culture of intimate relationships, and rethinking the historical roots of American feminism. These three passions all come together in a new way with the publication of her latest book.
“Jennifer Baumgardner gets much credit. After all, she published this book,” said Helen, in a recent interview with Philanthropy Women. “And as a result of Jennifer’s passion, I always remind her, this book has two mothers.” Baumgardner is the Publisher at The Feminist Press, which released Helen’s book this past May.
Young feminists have been organizing across the globe for decades, but their work, particularly in the media sector, has been woefully underfunded. I know, since I was one of them. In 1969, when I co-founded Women Make Movies, women’s funds didn’t exist.
Over the decades, thousands of young activists have gathered at events like the International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development, the flagship event of AWID (Association of Women’s Rights in Development), and have talked about the need for more funding for young feminists, particularly in media. As the last decade closed, many young activists lamented that no women’s fund specifically addressed their youthful organizing needs. So they decided to start their own, with AWID and Fondo Centralamericano de Mujeres (Central America Women’s Fund) incubating this spark of an idea.
Tracy Gary says she starts every day as a “grateful activist.” That’s a good way to approach the morning, and an attitude that infuses the 66-year old Gary’s now 40-year career as philanthropy advisor, non-profit leader, donor and consultant.
A founder of nearly two dozen non-profits, Gary heads Unleashing Generosity and Inspired Legacies, and is on the road 40 days per year working with non-profits, foundations, and donors. That’s down from the 200 days away from home she used to log, but in the last few years she has reduced her workload (which used to run to 60-80 hours per week) and dropped 100 pounds. It’s a matter of staying healthy, and staying on the planet, so that she can continue mentoring the next generation of inheritors and philanthropy professionals.
“We have been very intentional to make sure that organizations that are connected to communities and girls of color are at the table,” said C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D., Vice President of Programs for the Washington Area Women’s Foundation (WAWF), when talking with Philanthropy Women recently about the launch of the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI).
This connectedness to the community is a big factor in what makes YWI a powerful vehicle for youth empowerment for girls of color as well as for transgender and non-gender conforming youth.