After Five Years, Philanthropy Women Rebranding in 2022

It’s like that line from the Indigo girls song: “The hardest to learn was the least complicated.” The hardest thing for philanthropy to learn is that equality must become a priority: gender equality, racial equality, LGBTQ equality, and the list of those not included or given adequate resources and opportunities goes on. But instead, philanthropy keeps pointing elsewhere and saying, “Oh it’s a health care problem, oh it’s an education problem, oh it’s a workforce development problem.”

philanthropy women
Philanthropy Women will be rebranding to expand its scope in 2022.

Our health care and education and workforce development problems often grow out of a firmly entrenched bedrock of equality problems. But the equality part of the story almost always gets minimized in philanthropy, almost always gets conveniently left out, almost always stays on the back burner. Ultimately, if you really look closely at what’s going on in philanthropy, you realize that philanthropy as a whole funds equality in mostly token ways — ways that never get at the root of the problem. As a result, equality remains a presumed cultural value that has no real mechanism for being realized on a broad scale. It’s a dream to talk about loftily and do some pilot programs on, and then get back to the serious business of running a society that worships and elevates the richest 1% to the grave detriment of everyone else.

I’ve spent the last seven years of my life bringing more media attention to gender equality funding strategies because I believe this work is more important than most people realize. My hope was that over time, more attention would be paid to women and girls in philanthropy. I laid all my bets on the most underfunded topic in philanthropy because I believe in the added value of feminist approaches. But my bets did not pay off as I had hoped. And while it seems there is a growing donor base that “gets” the gender equality piece, this group of donors is still relatively small compared to the rest of philanthropy. Largely because of this fact, we have only been able to grow our base of subscribers at Philanthropy Women so far, and it’s not far enough to make us self-sustaining as a media entity, which was our goal.

In a short period of time, we accomplished quite a bit. With a very limited budget, we published over 1100 articles on gender equality funding strategies, created a database of over 700 gender equality funders, covered scores of feminist events, and discovered hundreds of new narratives about gender lens approaches to social change. In online media sharing, we produced over 175,000 tweets on gender lens funding, 80,000 Facebook shares, and 50,000 LinkedIn shares, resulting in millions and millions of impressions across social media channels. All of that was a healthy dose of normalizing the reality for society that women are pushing harder than ever for equal resources, equal air time, and equal joy in the world. We are coming from every corner of the globe and every walk of life, some of us with big bank accounts and a lot of divorce revenge and/or survivor healing we need to work out.

We created F-GIRL, an interview series for women’s leadership, with over 75 women leaders spotlighted, many being women of color and LGBTQ leaders who are generally overlooked and undervalued. 

We gave annual leadership awards and held contests. We produced over a dozen webinars. We gave voice to new leadership and ideas in women’s funding. All of this helped cultivate the gender equality movement’s ecosystem. With over 350,000 unique users and over 650,000 page views, we brought more gender lens funding news to the world than there had ever been before. 

Founding and publishing PW has been an incredible opportunity, but the bottom line is that this venture has been made possible by me doing several jobs that are usually held by a whole team (writing, editing, technical support and development, fundraising) and I’m not able to continue doing that while maintaining my career in social work (working with mostly gender-based violence and other trauma survivors as a therapist and advocate), especially in the face of dwindling support from donors. I’m proud of our team for making it five years. Given the difficult funding outlook, it seems like five years is enough of my professional life dedicated to this cause.

I would like to thank our supporters, particularly our first year lead sponsors Ruth Ann Harnisch and Emily Nielsen Jones, our second year lead sponsors, Jacki Zehner and Helen LaKelly Hunt, as well as Suzanne Lerner, Ellen Remmer, Sasha Rabsey, Liza Yntema, and The Tides Foundation. I also want to give a deep bow of gratitude to all our subscribers to Philanthropy Women. Your funding helped create a high authority domain that adds significantly to the media on gender equality. It will continue to do so as long as it is safe and affordable for me to maintain the information online.

Journalism about gender lens philanthropy is a particularly difficult niche to fund. Other feminist media outlets whom I approached to try to form partnerships expressed that they wanted to cover more of the news and information about gender equality philanthropy, but had no faith that they would be able to find adequate funding to do so.

So for now, Philanthropy Women will remain online as a resource for those who want to access our content archives and our funder database. We realize that many of our readers are struggling nonprofits or consultants in the gender equality realm, and that you will need to cancel your subscription now that our coverage will not be particularly focused on philanthropy. You can cancel by visiting your Paypal Pre-approved payments page.

If you want to help defray the costs of maintaining Philanthropy Women as a resource for the world, you can continue your subscription. Not only will you be able to visit your favorite content anytime, but your dollars will help fund the technical and security costs for maintaining the site. Subscribing, even just for a month (or consistently, if you can afford it) will help ensure that we do not need to shut down completely.

Our rebrand will be announced in January of 2022 and will open up the scope of our coverage to other areas, while also maintaining the article and funder database we have already created. We hope you will stay tuned!


Philanthropy Women’s Media Impact: Shaking up Feminist Giving

Leadership in Philanthropy Needs a Gender Lens

PW Knowledgebase of Funders for Gender Equality: New Product

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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