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.
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.
The following letter is from a new coalition of gender equality organizations called WomenForward. They are a diverse group, encompassing direct service nonprofits as well as global mentoring networks, and more. The coalition was launched earlier this month by The PIMCO Foundation, a corporate donor from the financial sector.
These kinds of connections are one of the strengths of women’s philanthropy — being able to build broad-based coalitions that cut across multiple sectors to find a shared agenda. Check out the letter, and make sure to visit some of the organization’s websites, to get a sense of all the good that is happening out there in the world, despite the many challenges for women in our economy and culture.
Talking to Gloria Feldt is like talking to someone who has been through just about everything as a feminist leader, and yet somehow still finds the strength to tackle ongoing social and political challenges. The word unstoppable comes to mind.
In 1996, People Magazine captured her phenomenal early career in a story called The Voice of Experience. Indeed. And Feldt has just the kind of experience we like to talk about here at Philanthropy Women: experience that mobilizes funding for big visions.
Feldt married her high school sweetheart at age 15 and had 3 children by the time she was 20. She began her professional career as a Head Start teacher for five years, and went back to school as a young mother. In the process of writing a paper for a science class, Feldt chose to profile the local Planned Parenthood affiliate in West Texas, interviewing the local President, nurse practitioners, and board members.
Back in April of 2016, I wrote an article for Inside Philanthropy profiling Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation (WAWF). It was exciting to learn about how Lockwood-Shabat was leading an ambitious campaign to raise funds for the amplification of WAWF’s work.
Now, WAWF is leading a campaign to keep gender equality activism on track. The new campaign, #our100days, is an effort for gender equality advocates to claim the first 100 days of the Trump presidency as a time to complete a single task every day that will help improve the lives of women and girls in America.
Want to know more about Lockwood-Shabat and how women’s funds are building community and solidarity for women and other marginalized groups? Lockwood-Shabat will be presenting at DREAM, DARE, DO, a symposium on March 14 and 15th of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. I will be there to learn from Lockwood-Shabat and other experts in the field of women’s philanthropy. I hope you will be there, too.
WE MARCHED. WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
We are already seeing some of the new administration’s priorities, and they will continue to become more clear as their first 100 days unfold. That’s why we’re proud to invite you to #our100days campaign — because these 100 days will be our 100 days too. Each day, we’ll give you a single task. As more join our movement, our message will be amplified across social media and throughout our communities.
There is much at stake for women and girls — health care, education, jobs, and our most basic rights. In his inaugural address, President Trump said, “This moment is your moment, it belongs to you,” and he is right. This is our moment.
Every community across the U.S. has unique features, but the challenges facing women tend to be depressingly similar. For example, in the Washington D.C. region, as in so many other places, many women are just barely getting by economically. Women make up about two-thirds of all low-wage workers in the D.C. area, earning $10.10 an hour or less.
“There is a tremendous gap between what many women in our region are earning, and what they really need to survive and take care of their families,” says Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, which serves as a hub for on-the-ground services and advocacy for women and girls in the greater D.C. metropolitan region.
This is a mandate that many women’s foundations take on—bridging the gap for low-income women so that they can not only get a job, but also get ahead, with child care services, housing, and asset building—all ways to build more financial stability into their lives, and the lives of their families.
As part of this work, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation is one of the 28 women’s foundations across the country collaborating in Prosperity Together, which pledged collectively to invest $100 million over the next five years to improve the economic security of women and girls of color. The funding investment was made in partnership with the White House Council on Women and Girls in November 2015.
Now, under the leadership of Lockwood-Shabat, the foundation has mapped out a five-year strategic plan called Together We Thrive, that will amp up the resources available to help women and girls, and broaden the range of practices and financial tools—including donor-advised funds—to make the foundation a more powerful giver, convener, and influencer in the D.C. area.
The Washington Area Women’s Foundation has been around since 1998, starting out with $35,000 in funds raised in the first year, with half of that redistributed as grants to the community. The foundation does not have an endowment and instead raises and redistributes its funding yearly.
In 2014, the Washington Area Women’s Foundation granted $1,015,000 in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. But this milestone is small compared to Lockwood-Shabat’s hopes for the foundation—which is to quintuple its grantmaking to $5 million a year over the next five years, essentially adding another million dollars in funding every year by persuading more donors to put their money toward funding for women and girls.
Where does Lockwood-Shabat see this funding coming from? “We’ve been taking a long look at the role of women in philanthropy, and how we connect women in our region who, in many ways, have made it—they are at the pinnacle of their careers, and they are looking for ways to give back.”
Estimates of the net worth of women in the D.C. metro region are at $253 billion, said Lockwood-Shabat. “That number is projected to grow to $500 billion in the next 10 years, so harnessing the power of those resources, and catalyzing those resources toward women and families who need a little bit of investment to lift themselves out of poverty, is our goal.”
One difference in empowering women financially is that the money is more fully reinvested in the community. “Studies show that in female-headed households, women will reinvest as much as 90 percent of their new income back into their families, so for every dollar that we’re able to raise the income of low-income women, a great deal of that is going back into their families and to their children. This is really about improving the entire community.”
The foundation has a long list of grantee organizations, many of which are providing much-needed child care, educational, and workforce development services on the ground in the community. The Women’s Foundation currently supports places such as SOME’s Center for Employment Training, which places women into good jobs, and the YWCA of the National Capital Area and College Success Foundation of D.C., partner organizations that provide academic, social-emotional, and financial support for students and their families—a two-generation approach that serves middle school-aged girls and their mothers or female caregivers.
The foundation also takes a systemic approach to social issues that impact women and girls, with funding for advocacy through organizations like Voices for Virginia Children, which fosters public policies to prepare all children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, for kindergarten, and a partnership between D.C. Appleseed and D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute to advocate for high-quality child care for low-income families in D.C..
The foundation is also looking to expand its partnerships with government, businesses, and philanthropy to encourage and influence funding programs with a gender focus.
“We have a number of corporate partners that participate in our Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative,” Lockwood-Shabat said. “These are private, family, and corporate foundations pooling their dollars, all to invest in early care and education across the region.” She added that the Early Care and Education Collaborative is just one example of a partnership designed to educate and influence others about the unique barriers faced by women in the region.
Partnerships with corporations and others are not just about funding, said Lockwood-Shabat. “Sometimes it’s about influencing how a corporation thinks about their own workplace policies and how they can better support women in their workplace. Or it’s about influencing how a government agency administers a program. That kind of education and influence is critically important—just as important as the dollars going out into the community.”
Lockwood-Shabat also wants to target the foundation’s dollars more specifically on piloting new methods of philanthropy and community engagement. She sees great potential for this coming from the unprecedented power of female philanthropy. “Women want to be very connected to the work, they want to see it, to touch it, to feel it. It’s not just about the impact today or a year from now, but a deeper focus on significant, long-term impact. Many of our donors have a deep understanding of the need for advocacy at the same time that we focus on direct service.”
Lockwood-Shabat is at the helm of a quickly evolving women’s foundation, one that is hoping to take off and fly, tapping into piles of new wealth in the hands of D.C.-area women. For Lockwood-Shabat, much of this is about cultivating the next generation of women leaders who can bring more gender equity and economic stability to our nation’s capital region.
“The more we can do to invest in young women, to strengthen their voices and their leadership skills early on, the better,” she said. “At a very grassroots level in their neighborhood or school, we can encourage young women to use their voices for greater things.”Read More
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
Last year when I was writing for Inside Philanthropy, David Callahan and I co-authored a list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy. It was a big hit. This year, I have decided to follow up and develop eight shorter lists. The lists will start with Emerging Most Powerful Women.
Why start with emerging? Using emerging women leaders as our starting point helps us get a sense of how these women are influencing some of the changing dynamics of philanthropy. Some of the emerging women are quite different from the more established women leaders in philanthropy. Many of these emerging leaders take a strong stance on the need for philanthropy to be more integrated into the economy and inclusive of marginalized groups. A heightened awareness of the need for collaboration across sectors to achieve systemic change is also a key point for many of them.
Speaking of inclusiveness, we want to make the process of establishing this list more inclusive, by asking for nominations from the public. So please, use this contact page to send me your nominations or leave them in the comments below. Make sure to say which category you are nominating someone for.
The point to all this list-making? I believe that the more women in philanthropy can be seen by the larger public, and the more their strategies can be known and replicated, the stronger movements for women’s leadership and gender equality will become. So please join me in identifying and celebrating this growing trend in social progress.
Categories for the Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy
Emerging Leaders — These are women leaders who have not yet ascended to a highly visible position in the landscape of philanthropy, but appear destined to do so.
Network and Collaborative Giving Leaders — The donor network and giving circle women leaders who are forging new paths for philanthropy.
Thought and Strategy Leaders — Women leaders in academia, media, or journalism who are helping to conceptualize and amplify the world of women’s giving.
Corporate Giving Leaders — Women leading our corporations who are putting gender equity high on the agenda and working it into the fabric of the corporation as thoroughly as possible.
Foundation Leaders — Women who are making gender equity a priority in the country’s largest and most influential foundations.
High Net Worth Givers — Women of substantially higher net worth who are also very active in the world of giving.
Feminist Foundation and Women’s Fund Leaders — Women who are making feminism part of the central platform of their funding work.
Celebrity Women Leaders — Women who use their stardom as well as their philanthropic prowess to move the needle on gender equity.
“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.
So how did this model arise? In part, it was a reaction to the grind of other approaches, especially galas, that were a common way for women to raise money for causes they care about—but which Caster and many other women did not find to be the best use of their time, treasure or talent. Caster writes eloquently of the different nature of her philanthropy in an essay in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. “For a growing number of contemporary women, particularly the highly educated, arranging fundraising events is often not, in fact, fulfilling or stimulating. For many, it under-utilizes their intellect, talent, education, professional skills, and general life experience.”
So what’s a highly educated contemporary woman to do? She might consider starting or joining a giving circle.
“Giving circles can be created at any price point, for any cause, and with any demographic as the membership,” said Caster in a recent interview. “You can do it with no paid staff and a tiny percentage of operational costs, compared to bigger foundations.”
Inside Philanthropy has covered giving circles before, including ones raising money for niche areas, like the Asian American LGBT community, or nonprofit work in specific locales like Philadelphia. Giving circles play to women’s strengths as networkers and collaborators, and they offer a way for smaller donors to be part of something larger—but not so large they have no meaningful voice.
Caster developed her alternative approach for giving in Los Angeles in 1999, and incorporated Everychild Foundation as a 501(c)(3) the following year. The model is relatively simple. The foundation’s mission is to ease suffering of Los Angeles-area children whether due to disease, disability, abuse, neglect or poverty. Each member makes an annual $5,000 tax-deductible donation. The money is then pooled to fund a single, targeted $1 million grant to a local organization with a dream project. The project ideally involves an innovative prototype that can be replicated, thereby leveraging the dollars even further.
Less than 10 percent of the funds collected are used to operate the organization. There is no rent or salaried staff. Caster and all the other members donate all of their hours. However, there are some accounting, bookkeeping and a few other miscellaneous costs, plus the services of a professional grant consultant who advises the grant board.
Starting with 56 members in 2000, Everychild has now grown to its target of 225 members, giving it the financial muscle to make $1 million grants each year since 2006.
One of Everychild’s earliest grants tells an interesting story about impact. The foundation made a 2001 grant to Queenscare to fund a mobile dental clinic staffed by the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. When dentists started serving large numbers of low-income children in the first months, they uncovered such a huge unmet health need in the community that Queenscare sought out funding from other major local foundations; three more dental clinics were added, for a total of four clinics, all still operating today.
Each member of the Everychild Foundation donates the same amount and is permitted one vote on the million-dollar grantee for the year, so there is no inequality between the donors. “Members have frequently expressed how refreshing it is to participate in a charity without the typical hierarchy of donors who are treated differently according to their gift size,” said Caster.
The Everychild Foundation begins soliciting proposals at the end of each calendar year. From January through May, the grant screening board narrows that pool of proposals down from roughly 25 to about six or eight. The board then evaluates items such as their financials, success handling other large grants and sustaining new projects. Next come site visits to each group in this final pool in May. “We meet the board, see the facility. We send questions before and after the site visit,” said Caster.
“We eventually vote on two finalists who spend the summer putting together a full proposal. The presentation to our membership takes place in October. About half the members attend the hearing every year.”
Members then mail in their ballots in the following two weeks. “Some discuss the choice in online chat groups. They talk it over at the dinner table with their families and partners,” said Caster. “It becomes a really interesting period as the final proposals are discussed.”
The model affords a great deal of latitude for participation, from not much at all to active involvement in the grantee review process or grant monitoring after the grants have been awarded. Some members don’t even vote for which grantee is chosen, trusting that the group has done its due diligence. Interested Everychild members also have the opportunity to advocate for a variety of children’s issues at the county, state and federal levels as part of the Public Policy Committee.
The Everychild Foundation’s level of due diligence in selecting the finalists has become legendary in the Los Angeles community. “Directors at other prestigious local foundations have said that if a project can survive Everychild’s rigorous review process, it must have merit,” said Caster.
Consequently, not only do Everychild’s chosen grantees receive $1 million, but the runners-up in Everychild’s process often see significant dollar support, either from Everychild members, or other foundations, not infrequently, even receiving the full million.
Which brings us to this year’s winner and runner-up.
The winner is Richstone Family Center, which will be creating a new healing arts center with the $1 million grant. “Richstone serves the areas of L.A. County experiencing the highest concentration of gang violence, child trafficking, drug-related crime, prostitution, and poverty,” said Caster in a press release about the winner. “The Everychild Foundation Healing Center has the ability to change the life trajectories of at-risk and abused children and their families.”
The runner-up this year is also providing vital services in the community, and is ripe for scaling up with additional funding. Jovenes, of Boyle Heights, helps homeless and at-risk children and families. The project it pitched will provide housing and other supportive services for hundreds of homeless community college students, many of whom are aged-out former foster youth. Caster acknowledged the difficult letdown of not getting the Everychild grant, but sometimes being the runner-up can actually surpass winning the Everychild Foundation’s grant. “One year, the runner-up received $2 million from another funder,” said Caster.
“We work really hard to help find funding for the runner-up,” said Caster. This year, after announcing the winner, she sent out an email about the runner-up, and already heard back from one funder who wanted to provide a five-figure grant and another who might be interested in funding the whole thing.
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.
So go to the website and take a look at the 27 different speakers for this conference. Then consider how amazing it would be to attend an event that will enhance our understanding of the power of women’s leadership in philanthropy, feeding what is already an exciting trend for social progress.
Women’s giving trends continue to evolve in fascinating ways. 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.
Major developments for women and philanthropy continue to evolve, even as the U.S. faces its most openly misogynist President, and gender equality movements brace for the implications of this shift in power. But President Trump would be foolish to ignore or discount Generation X leaders like Melinda Gates and Millennial leaders like Priscilla Chan, and the growing influence of their philanthropy. These women, and legions of others like them on different levels in philanthropy, will be important partners in leading the country in the coming years.