Philanthropy or Investing: Why Not Both?

When it comes to maximizing our financial impact, there is often an “either/or” approach to leveraging wealth. Do we use our dollars to fund a philanthropic effort, like a campaign or organization dedicated to women and girls, or do we turn our funds toward investment opportunities, like supporting companies with a strong commitment to diversity?

Ellen Remmer is a Senior Partner at The Philanthropic Institute (TPI) and Champion of Invest for Better. (Image Credit: Invest for Better/Ellen Remmer)

As new forms of giving spring up to meet the challenges — and opportunities — of a digital society, we are able to move further away from that attitude of “either/or.” There are ways to stretch our donor dollars further — through two types of collectives that maximize impact.

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Where Are Young Women in Philanthropy?

In the same ways that traditional philanthropy has been historically dominated by white, older, high net worth men, feminist philanthropy has a noticeable population gap in younger age groups. Young women, in particular, in an era of crushing student loans, underemployment, and uncertainty in the face of COVID-19, are noticeably absent from a movement dedicated to their wellbeing.

Young women’s activism is at an all-time high — but why are we missing from feminist philanthropy? (Image Credit: Gayatri Malhotra)

This is not to say that the younger generations aren’t pulling their weight. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Young activists like Greta Thunberg and Sarah Goody are leading the way to revolutions in social justice and culture change. LGBT+ and POC youth are standing vanguard against discrimination, homophobia, and rollbacks of minorities’ legal rights.

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(Liveblog) How Justice and Giving Intersect with Philanthropy Together

On Wednesday, February 3rd, Philanthropy Together hosted the second part of their webinar series surrounding giving circles and social justice. Moderated by LiJia Gong of Radfund, the panel featured Sarah David Heydemann (Radfund), Mario Lugay (Justice Funders Giving Side), Marsha Morgan (Community Investment Network), and Sian Miranda Singh ÓFaoláin.

Sara Lomelin, Executive Director of Philanthropy Together, introduced the day’s moderator and panelists, and encouraged attendees to share their locations and organizations.

The Social Justice Giving Circle Project

Gong began by introducing The Social Justice Giving Circle Project, which explores the relationship between giving circles and today’s social justice movements, both how it currently exists and what’s possible in the future.

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Become an Invest for Better Circle Leader: Apply by February 10th!

If you’ve wanted to form an impact circle but aren’t sure how to get started, Invest for Better has the program for you. Applications are now open for the Spring 2021 Cohort of Invest for Better’s Circle Leader program. Kicking off on February 11th, this free training program offers the resources and know-how for women to form, lead, and grow their own impact investing circles.

The Spring 2021 cohort of Invest for Better’s Circle Leader training program begins on February 11th, 2021. (Image Credit: Invest for Better)

Invest for Better is a national initiative aimed at helping women demystify impact investing, take control of their capital and mobilize their money for good. It is non-profit and non-transactional, designed to address the “aspiration gap” between women’s interest and their action by overcoming obstacles to participation, and building trusted peer communities.

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(Liveblog) Leveraging the Unique Power of Women’s Collective Giving

Bright and early on Wednesday, January 27th, women from all over the country joined Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Carmen Stevens of Women’s Giving Circles International (WGCI) for a collaborative workshop on collective giving.

Sondra opened the event by welcoming the attendees and speakers, and introducing the day’s topics.

“The power of women’s philanthropy has changed not only the countries we live in, but changed us as well,” she said.

Carmen Stevens on Global Giving Circles

Carmen Stevens introduced the history of WGCI, which works to provide educational resources for women all over the world looking to start and grow their own giving circles. Primarily focused on circles outside of the United States, WGCI facilitates circle creation, networking, and mentorship all over the globe, but particularly in Latin America, Europe, and the organization’s most recent programs in Asia.

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Rena Greifinger On High Risk/High Return Grantmaking for Women

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Rena Greifinger, Managing Director of Maverick Collective, a network of strategic philanthropists cofounded by Melinda Gates that is dedicated to elevating the status of women and girls everywhere through access to healthcare.

Rena Greifinger is the Managing Director of Maverick Collective, a network of strategic philanthropists dedicated to elevating the status of women and girls. (Image Credit: Maverick Collective)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I’ve been working with and for nonprofits my entire career (15 years), yet only started working directly with philanthropists, and on the subject of philanthropy, in 2017. It has been one of the steepest and most joyful learning curves.

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Top 10 Posts for Zinger of a Year 2020 on Philanthropy Women

What a stressful, challenging, and world-view altering year. Between COVID, the free-fall of the economy, and the ongoing lack of clarity from the election, it feels like there’s no end to the new harm and instability in the world, particularly for women and girls. Here’s a look at what went wrong, and right, for gender equality funding strategies this past year, as represented by our Top 10 posts here at Philanthropy Women.

Photo by lucia on Unsplash

Listed below are the top 10 posts on Philanthropy Women for 2020, factoring in page views and social media shares, as well as stats on high-authority backlinks for each post. These are the posts that produced the most reverberations across the culture, from what we could tell.

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WPI Receives $1.9 Million Gates Grant for Women’s Giving Research

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a new nearly two million dollar grant whose goal is to “advance actionable, global research on women’s giving to inform and equip donors and nonprofits.”

Jeannie Sager, Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute
Photo Credit: Women’s Philanthropy Institute

The funding will fuel WPI’s ongoing research on domestic and global women’s giving, and empower organizations, donors and fundraisers to put these research insights into practice. Since 2015, WPI has conducted research on gender and philanthropy that helps inform the foundation’s Giving By All initiative, which is focused on growing giving and helping donors give more effectively and strategically.

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Liveblog of WPI: How Giving Circles Diversify Philanthropy

On July 16, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute hosted a live Q&A with Sara Lomelin of Philanthropy Together, to discuss the ways philanthropy can be democratized, empowered, and fueled by diversity. In light of current pressing issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19, WPI and Philanthropy Together seek to answer the question, “How can giving circles transform the future of trust-based giving?”

Image Credit: WPI and Philanthropy Together

WPI Director Jeannie Sager kicked off the conversation by encouraging the participants to share their locations – people chimed in from all over the US and beyond.

Sager introduced the concept: “For too long, philanthropy has been seen as an exclusive club. Yet today, our country is experiencing a drastic reckoning… Who is called a philanthropist?”

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Enrolling Now: Launchpad, a Giving Circles Incubator

By any measure, giving circles are one of the biggest growth areas in philanthropy. It’s no accident that giving circles are heavily female, and women of color are involved in giving circles at much higher rates than they are in traditional modes of philanthropic giving.

giving circles incubator
Participants pose for a group photo during the Giving Circle Infrastructure Conference at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington on April 1, 2019. (Image Credit: Philanthropy Together)

A simple giving circle definition from Philanthropy Together: “Giving Circles are groups of all shapes and sizes collaborating for change: like-minded individuals come together to pool their funds, share and discuss the issues that matter to them, and decide together where to give their money, time, and talents.” Giving circles enable individuals to leverage modest individual donations into a critical mass. They are by definition participatory, and the power of the collective provides individuals greater input and influence than were they giving in isolation.

Philanthropy Together places special emphasis on the role of traditionally underrepresented communities, noting:

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