What a great way to start the day, with my daily news search for the term “philanthropy women” turning up an article on Forbes that discusses both our fiscal sponsor, Women’s Funding Network, and one of our spotlight organizations, Women Donors Network. The article also talks in detail about other work we’ve covered, including Emergent Fund’s rapid response funding for the Resistance, and the role that Donna Hall and WDN have played in bringing together progressive funders this past year.Read More
Category: Women’s Funds
WPI Research Reveals Common Traits for Gender Equality Givers
A new report out from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) helps to distill some key traits that progressive women donors share. The report, entitled “Giving By and For Women,” is a first-of-its-kind study involving in-depth interviews with women donors who are focused on giving to women and girls.
“Acquisition of wealth gives these donors hyperagency,” says the report’s conclusions, and this hyperagency is worth studying for the way it influences social change. The common traits that these donors exhibit are worth recognizing, since they form a particular pattern of life experiences and values that contribute to the focus of their giving. The report also importantly notes that “these interviews are not generalizable to a larger population of donors.”Read More
Ripple Effect: Longtime Expert to Cultivate Giving Circles Worldwide
“I remember standing up at a conference 16 or 17 years ago and saying that my dream is that there will be a women’s giving circle in every city in America,” says Sondra Shaw Hardy. “I feel that my goal now is to take giving circles worldwide.” To that end, Shaw Hardy is starting a new organization called Women’s Giving Circles International, which will make expanding the giving circle model globally its primary goal.
Shaw Hardy has been called the “mother of giving circles,” and she will talk about the concept at the North American Community Foundations summit in Mexico City in early February. Shaw Hardy’s panel talk, “Meaningfully Engaging a New Realm of Donors for Local Action,” dovetails perfectly with the summit’s focus on locally generated, sustainable, equitable development.
This is not Shaw Hardy’s first professional visit to Mexico; in September 2017 she and long-time colleague Martha Taylor were invited to Monterrey to discuss female-centered charitable giving. While many of the women Shaw Hardy spoke to had considerable means, few had previously considered the concept of philanthropy by women, for women. They quickly embraced the idea, forming the Damos Juntas Giving Circle, and are taking “Círculos de Ayuda” beyond Monterrey (the country’s third largest metro area) to Mexico as a whole.
Shaw Hardy’s experience in Mexico confirms her previous impression that pooled direct-giving by donors is a compelling concept the world over. In June 2017, Shaw Hardy was invited by the German ambassador to the UK to speak at Germany’s embassy in London. The topic was women and politics in the United States, but Shaw Hardy also mentioned women and philanthropy, and found that her remarks on giving circles galvanized a cosmopolitan audience mostly composed of diplomats’ wives.
Shaw Hardy has been working in the women’s philanthropy field for 30 years, with a focus on giving circles for the last two decades. Her interest in giving circles was sparked when she picked up a People magazine (on a plane, she is quick to point out) and chanced on an article about Colleen Willoughby, the Seattle philanthropist. Willoughby was a founder of the Washington Women’s Foundation, and a pioneer in the field of “collective giving grantmaking,” a close cousin to giving circles. Willoughby had started a circle with two other women, and Shaw Hardy realized the power of women working together to fund change in their community.
Originally from Flint, Michigan, Shaw Hardy has lived in Traverse City—three hours northwest of Lansing on Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay—for decades. When we spoke by phone, she was in South Carolina, unsuccessfully trying to fend off the cold as the South had been recently blanketed by snow and ice. She lives most of the year in Traverse City with her husband, and has three children and eight grandchildren.
In the late 90s, Shaw Hardy was president of the Women’s Resource Center in Traverse City, and organized a giving circle, which grew to 65 members in four years. That circle’s goals were aligned with those of the Resource Center, and Shaw Hardy notes that giving circles typically fund applicants that focus on life’s essentials, including alleviating poverty, increasing women’s economic capabilities, and providing greater access to healthcare. “There is hardly any women’s giving circle that doesn’t have something to do with human services,” she says.
Shaw Hardy notes that she has helped set up over 30 circles, and while groups across the country are diverse, there are certain commonalities and guideposts in their founding: Circles need to be composed of people who enjoy each other’s company, members should have similar interests and goals, and five to seven people is a good number for launching a circle. Finally, members need to participate in the grant-making process so that all are active decision-makers. Established giving circles typically average 150 members, and some have as many as several hundred.
The movement was formalized and given a boost in 2001 when Wendy Steele established Impact 100 in Cincinnati. The model of a pass-through foundation that relies on its members to make grants to local organizations in culture, education, environment, family and health soon spread to other cities throughout the country. According to Impact 100, its affiliated organizations had given away more than $45 million by the close of 2016.
The advantage of giving circles is that they leverage modest individual donations into a critical mass. “By pooling their monies,” says Shaw Hardy, “women are seeing the impact they can have versus giving small amounts.” Shaw Hardy suggests that this collective giving is literally empowering women, giving them an input and influence far greater than if members had donated the same amount as individuals.
Circles are also essential in putting women into decision-making positions. “Giving circles have emboldened women to become members of nonprofit boards,” says Shaw Hardy. Previously, women were often reluctant to serve on boards, says Shaw Hardy, but now they have greater knowledge and confidence. The result is more women heading organizations, and women becoming increasingly comfortable leading campaigns to raise money for causes important to them.
This larger grant-making influence has an important consequence: “Women have become more political as a result of their involvement,” says Shaw Hardy. “In addition to belonging to a giving circle and contributing money, they are also giving money to political candidates who favor their issues, and even running for office themselves.” Shaw Hardy says that along with promoting self-esteem in girls and increasing opportunities for low-income women and girls, “getting more women to run for office” is a personal priority for her. She has her own experience to draw on, and says, “I didn’t know I was a feminist until I found myself serving on a County Board of Commissioners with 14 men.”
Shaw Hardy says the significant growth in women’s philanthropy is partly due to women’s more prominent role in the work place. “Women have careers, they have more than just jobs. They earn more money than before.” Shaw Hardy believes that by increasing their giving and being involved in grant-making, women have achieved greater financial agency and power.
“Women are now talking about money, a subject that was once considered inappropriate for them to discuss,” says Shaw Hardy. “And that, combined with control of their money, whether earned, inherited or married, has resulted in women’s participation on organization finance committees.” The result, she says, is that women no longer fear balance sheets or financial plans, and their greater financial acumen has “changed the face of philanthropy, and the way couples give.”
Shaw Hardy has been on the ground floor of many organizations, and says she is happy to get something going, and then move on. Most recently, Shaw Hardy helped launch Woman2Woman TC (the TC is for Traverse City). It formed in 2016 in support of Hillary Clinton—and drew a crowd of 400 at its first meeting—and has since continued to support progressive female candidates, including Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. The group, which counts over 2,500 members on Facebook, also encourages local women to run for office.
Shaw Hardy’s position as the doyenne of giving circles, and supporter of progressive female-centered causes, has an unusual origin: initially, she started out at as a Republican Party fundraiser. She obtained the position after graduating from Michigan State University in Lansing. Shaw Hardy subsequently earned a law degree, and then went to D.C. to become a Republican lobbyist, a position at which she says she did not distinguish herself. Part of the problem was motivation. “Let’s just say that I did not share the philosophy of the Reagan administration on abortion rights, or on U.S. involvement in Latin America.”
Shaw Hardy broke with the GOP and moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where she started fundraising for non-profits and working with Martha Taylor of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. In 1991, Taylor and Shaw Hardy founded the forerunner to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, which became part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University (IU) in 2004. Shaw Hardy has served as an adjunct professor in philanthropy at IU, and in the 1990s was head of development at her alma mater, Western Michigan University. Regardless of her position, she has maintained a focus on women donors, and has written six books on the topic, many of them collaborations with Taylor, including the 2010 volume Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World.
Now Shaw Hardy is embarking on another journey in shaping a better world by launching Women’s Giving Circles International. The organization’s website is under construction, and plans are afoot to make more ripple effects in the giving circle movement, this time worldwide.
An Unusual Women’s Giving Circle in Boston Fuels Social Change Globally
Making the Connection Between Gender Equality and the Environment
Announcing the 2018 Philanthropy Women Leadership Awards
This is our first year here at Philanthropy Women, and these our inaugural awards. They go to recipients who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of gender equality philanthropy. These awards draw on the database of Philanthropy Women’s coverage, and are therefore inherently biased toward the people and movement activity we have written about so far. As our database grows each year, we will cover more ground, and have a wider field to cull from for the awards.
Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership
The need for coordinating funding efforts is stronger than ever, and certain leaders are doing much of the legwork to bring together different constituencies under the same tent. Donna Hall is one of those leaders. With her collaborations with others to create Emergent Fund, which was later joined by Democracy Alliance, Donna Hall has been networker extraordinaire for the purpose of bringing together donors who share a cause and purpose. For these reasons, we award her the Philanthropy Women Bridge Builders Award for Network and Collaborative Giving Leadership.
General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership
The Star Wars reference helps to conceptualize the longstanding nature of Helen LaKelly Hunt’s thought and strategy leadership in feminist philanthropy. Like high-ranking General Organa of the Resistance, Hunt has weathered decades of storms for gender equality philanthropy and has emerged time and again with more strength and courage. Her multifaceted powers are an inspiration to many not only in philanthropy but also in history and social science, as Hunt has made a strong case for revising feminist history in her book, And the Spirit Moved Them. She has also helped create many of the women’s foundations that are the heart of grassroots feminism today. Along with all this, Hunt, in collaboration husband Harville Hendrix, has developed an amazing model for therapy called Relationships First (I know because I use Relationships First skills in my own work as a therapist and experience the way feelings change from anger to curiosity with the model.) For these reasons, we award Helen LaKelly Hunt the Philanthropy Women General Organa Award for Thought and Strategy Leadership.
One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy
Emily Bove is at the helm of Women Thrive Alliance, and does amazing work to bring the agenda of global gender equality into public view. This past year, Bove showed us the way SDG’s need to be the focus in order to coordinate efforts in the fight for gender equality. Bove continues to be a frontline advocate in political spheres for more attention to women and girls. For these reasons, we award Emily Bove the Philanthropy Women One World Award for Feminist Leadership in International Philanthropy.
Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy
Gloria Feldt, who tirelessly pushes the envelope for women’s leadership, also spearheaded a most excellent alliance this past year with Lyft, the up-and-coming taxi company giving Uber a run for its money. Feldt and her team at Take the Lead made Take the Lead Day, November 14, a Lyft discount day, and also got the rideshare service collaborating with local domestic violence shelters in Arizona to provide rides for survivors. Take the Lead Day had strong participation across the globe, with 217 cities and 26 countries around the world taking action for women’s leadership parity. Getting Lyft and others to sign on as sponsors was a great way to help corporations pay attention to gender equality. For these reasons, we award Gloria Feldt the Philanthropy Women Influencing the Corporate Agenda Award for Feminist Philanthropy.
Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds
Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat started last year strong as her foundation led 100 Days of Action for Women and Girls. She finished up even stronger, launching Together We Lead, a women’s leadership initiative that brought in several corporate founding sponsors including Capital One, Deloitte, Nestle, Edelman, and Audi. Lockwood-Shabat is well-known in women’s philanthropy circles for developing and sustaining one of the strongest and most effective women’s funds in the country, with a particular focus on young women and girls of color. For these reasons, we award Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat the Philanthropy Women Wonder Woman Award for Leadership in Women’s Funds.
She Persisted Award for Feminist Foundation Leadership
Every time a new political calamity would occur this past year, I would wonder who would be out front with a strong statement and response from the feminist community. Time and again, the early and often responder was Teresa C. Younger and the Ms. Foundation for Women. Younger also had a hand in writing A Blueprint for Women’s Funds: On Using Finance as a Tool for Social Change which helps to identify a path for restructuring finance with further integration of capital with the agenda of gender equality. For these reasons, we award Teresa C. Younger the Philanthropy Women ‘She Persisted’ Award for Feminist Foundation leadership.
Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality
Jessica Chastain narrated an important film that we covered this past year, I am Jane Doe, directed by Mary Mazzio, which has helped address sex trafficking of children in America, and expose how corporate and nonprofit interests cloak themselves in “freedom of speech” language as they fund the protectors of this lucrative life-destroying business. Chastain has since proven herself to be a powerful member of the coalition of Hollywood women coming forward for #Timesup, the follow-up to #Metoo, which demands accountability in the film industry for sexual harassment and abuse. For these reasons, we award Jessica Chastain the Philanthropy Women Famously Feminist Award for Celebrity Leadership on Gender Equality.
Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership as an Organization
Starting and sustaining a new feminist organization in today’s regressive political climate is extra challenging, but good ideas and women just can’t be kept down. That’s what we see when we look at FRIDA, a new global feminist organization focused on social change. FRIDA is leading the way in grantmaking at the grassroots for media and attention to gender equality in places like Poland, Egypt, and Colombia. For these reasons, we award FRIDA the Philanthropy Women Rising Star Award for Emerging Leadership in Women’s Philanthropy.
Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality
CREDO gives a large percentage of its corporate philanthropy dollars to gender equality, and Ray Morris, as CEO of CREDO, appears to be continuing the company’s 30-year commitment to gender equality funding. In fact, gender equality accounts for about 11.7% of CREDO’s funding for progressive causes. Imagine if every corporation gave 11.7% of their philanthropy dollars to gender equality. We would be able to accelerate the progress of gender equality movements and reach critical mass sooner. For these reasons, we award CREDO Mobile the Philanthropy Women Best Corporate Giving for Gender Equality award.
League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy
No awards list for gender equality philanthropy would be complete without acknowledging the significant role of the NoVo Foundation, which has devoted substantial funds to address the rights and freedoms of young women and girls of color. One of the larger grants that NoVo recently made was to the Young Women’s Freedom Center in California, to fight for girls involved in the juvenile justice system, who are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized young women in our communities. Co-founded by Peter and Jennifer Buffett, NoVo Foundation provides an excellent model for how couples can partner for gender equality philanthropy. For these reasons, we award NoVo Foundation the Philanthropy Women League of Their Own Award for Gender Equality Philanthropy.Read More
New Hot Topics: Philanthropy Women’s Top Ten Posts for 2017
2017 was a tremendous year to be writing about gender equality philanthropy. In the wake of Trump’s election in 2016, women in progressive circles rallied their resources for fighting back against the coming regression. Our top ten posts help to recall the many ways that women joined the resistance and continued the fight. At #6, for example, Emily Nielsen Jones delves into the experience of coming together for the Women’s March last January. Meanwhile, at #2, one of the most unusual giving circles in the country celebrates its ability to reach women on the other side of the globe. At #5, we hear from Kimberle Crenshaw, law scholar and fierce advocate for philanthropy to reach out more to women and girls of color.Read More
Hell No, We Won’t Go! A Guide to Repealing the Trump Tax
With Christmas over, it’s now time to get down to business and develop a strong agenda for 2018. At the top of that agenda for progressive donors, in my opinion, is repealing the Trump Tax that recently passed. This legislation does more to hurt the middle class and nonprofits than can be tolerated in a society that still prides itself on equality and freedom.
Here are just a few choice details about how this law will deter giving for the middle and upper middle class. The law’s discouragement of itemized deductions by raising the standard deduction for married couples to $24,000, is estimated to reduce the number of itemized tax returns from the current 30% to only 5%. That means only 5% of people will have enough charitable and other deductions to qualify for itemizing their taxes. This change strikes a devastating blow to families in the $70,000 to $200,000 income level, who often stretch their giving in order to qualify for the charitable tax exemption at $12,000. Between the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction, some middle class families would be able to qualify for the $12,000 deduction threshold. By giving an extra two or three thousand or more, they are often supporting nonprofits in the community (their local church, food bank, or domestic violence shelter) getting a tax break, too.Read More
Women of Wealth to Congress: Stop the GOP Tax Scam
While Donald Trump is predicting that his “monumental” tax bill will pass next week, women donors came together to demand that Congress reject the tax plan currently being finalized by the GOP. “This is not the decent and fair America we seek to build,” a letter from over 200 women states, as it blasts the GOP for its reckless and irresponsible tax bill.
Calling the tax legislation “morally bankrupt, intellectually corrupt, and economically indefensible,” the letter signed by over 200 Women of Wealth members.Read More
Rapid Response for Resistance: Emergent Fund to Fight Injustice
“The Emergent Fund started as a plane built in mid-air. We moved faster than comfort allowed in developing a funding response to the new threats posed by the 2016 election because the scale of the crisis that loomed was so large, multidimensional, and immediate. Resources were urgently needed in many places and without much time for deliberation.”
So begins Visionary Resistance, a new report reviewing how several donor networks came together to invest $ 1 million rapidly for efforts to protect those most marginalized and targeted by a Trump presidency. Aptly named the Emergent Fund, this new resource is funded through a partnership between the Women Donors Network, Solidaire, Threshold Foundation, and the Democracy Alliance.Read More
Announcing a New Fiscal Sponsor for Philanthropy Women
I am pleased to announce that the Women’s Funding Network has agreed to serve as Philanthropy Women’s fiscal sponsor for our not-for-profit publishing work. This partnership will help us to raise funds to make Philanthropy Women a more potent force for educating the community about how women in philanthropy are driving social change.
The Women’s Funding Network (WFN) grew out of a 1984 joint meeting of the National Black United Fund and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, where participants discussed creating an organization exclusively for women’s funds. By 2000, WFN had grown into a network of 94 member funds and foundations with over $200 million in assets, deploying $30 million a year in grants. In 2003, WFN received a $5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which enabled significant growth. Today, WFN continues to expand, with over 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning 30 countries, and continues to collaborate with other philanthropic powerhouses like Kellogg, the Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation, to address gender equality globally.Read More
Giving Tuesday: Join WDN and Philanthropy Women
Soon, the shopping rampage will be over, and we can get on with a much more interesting event of the season: #GivingTuesday. This year on Giving Tuesday, we will be hosting a Twitter chat along with the Women Donors Network, where we will talk about the diverse and powerful ways philanthropy can #fundwomen and make a lasting impact for gender equality.
Please join us on Tuesday, November 28 at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT) for a one-hour conversation on the importance of funding women in today’s philanthropy landscape.
Topic: Why #FundWomen on #GivingTuesday?
Hashtags: #FundWomen #GivingTuesday
Questions for Women Donors Network:Read More