WMM to Philanthropy: In COVID Economy, Give Bold for Women

With an organization model built on women who pledge or donate at least $1 million of their wealth, it’s no surprise that Women Moving Millions is associated with large-scale campaigns and fundraising projects. The latest campaign from WMM, “Give Bold. Get Equal.” encourages donors and foundations to commit funds to gender equality in ways unheard of before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The end goal? Mobilize $100 million for women and girls by the year 2022.

The Women Moving Millions “Give Bold. Get Equal.” campaign seeks to mobilize $100 million in new funding for women and girls by the year 2022. (Image Credit: WMM Facebook)

“Women and girls need our support more than ever in this moment,” says Sarah Haacke Byrd, Executive Director of WMM. “The past decade is bookended by the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis. During this time, women gained 11 million jobs, and by April 2020, all these jobs were erased. The pandemic is exacerbating the systemic oppression faced by women and girls.”

In the wake of COVID-19, many gender equality funders have had to pare back their programs for gender equality. This is especially concerning when we consider the already miniscule percentage of foundation dollars devoted to gender equality: only 1.6% of philanthropic funds go to organizations focused on women and girls, and less than 0.5% of foundation funds go to women and girls of color.

The “Give Bold. Get Equal.” campaign highlights the difficulties activists face in campaigning for equal rights when they do not have equal support to fall back on. By affirming their dedication to women and girls, particularly women and girls of color, foundations and individual donors can ensure equal rights, equal pay, and equal power.

Sarah Haacke Byrd is the Executive Director of Women Moving Millions (Image Credit: WMM)

“What makes this campaign different is that we’re seeking not only to drive more resources at this time of historic need, but we’re also trying to address the systemic failure of philanthropic institutions to join the fight for equality,” says Sarah Haacke Byrd. “We are using our platform to raise awareness that the movement for gender equality is chronically under-resourced, and to advocate for philanthropists, foundations, and corporations to join the fight for equality and get off the sidelines.”

“Give Bold. Get Equal.” comes with support from a number of partner organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The Gates Foundation is investing in WMM and this campaign because they understand what’s on the line for women and girls globally,” says Haacke Byrd. “If we don’t have more capital flowing to this work, then the regressive tendency of COVID-19 becomes a permanent reality for women.”

The campaign will run over the course of three years, and is currently focused on ramping up efforts to get the word out and inspire new commitments to funding for women and girls. “As we build out our three-year campaign, there will be more opportunities for other partners and sponsors to engage,” adds Haacke Byrd.

According to a report from S&P Global, women control an estimated $72 trillion around the world. The goal of this campaign is to encourage more women of means to devote their funding to programs that support women and girls. Not only should the dollar figures be higher, the campaign suggests, but the vocal commitment should be louder. Instead of spreading philanthropic dollars among organizations that do work adjacent to gender equality, portfolios should be built with gender equality at their heart: and the word should be spread, loud and proud.

WMM encourages funders to #GetEqual by:

  • Giving boldly, pushing ourselves to support exponential change, not just incremental progress.
  • Leveraging the collective strength of [the WMM] network and beyond, because together we are more powerful.
  • Ensuring our philanthropic strategies remain flexible and responsive to an ever-changing world.
  • Building partnerships based upon trust, ceding power to leaders who are closest to the issues we are trying to address.
  • Honoring the complexity of our work by breaking down the silos in giving and applying an intersectional lens.
  • Acknowledging the consequences of our power and privilege in order to listen and learn how to be more effective allies in fighting systemic injustices and dismantling the structures that support them.
  • Taking action to Give Bold, Get Equal.

An encouraging factor in the “Give Bold. Get Equal.” campaign is that WMM isn’t stopping with the $100 million financial commitment. Besides aiming to make this fundraising goal “a floor, not a ceiling,” the WMM team will also be putting together an impact study 3-5 years down the line, to see the true scope of these funds’ divestment.

“In the women and girls space and in the gender equality space, there’s so much we’re missing in terms of data,” says Haacke Byrd. “If we can use this campaign to enrich our understanding of what’s working and what’s not, that would be very valuable for the field.”

To donors and organizations considering a commitment to the “Give Bold. Get Equal.” campaign, Sarah Haacke Byrd encourages individuals and companies alike to be strategic in their giving.

“Investing in organizations and programs that may have women and girls as part of their service population is not the same thing as placing women and girls at the heart of their strategy,” she says. “In other words, we’re asking organizations to think about how they can more effectively apply a gender lens when analyzing, planning, and making decisions about their giving and the organizations they support.”

Funders need to take a closer look at their strategies, and guarantee that the commitment they’re making to women and girls is truly a commitment to specific populations and not given as part of a looser investment strategy.

“Join us and make your own bold commitment so that this can be a floor and not a ceiling,” says Sarah Haacke Byrd. “This is a moment for foundations and individuals to be intentional in their giving strategy, and to apply an intersectional lens to their work, along with principles of trust-based philanthropy. Revisit your giving strategies and challenge yourself to step into the complexity of this moment. We’re not going to solve our problems by continuing to work in a siloed fashion.”

To learn more about the “Give Bold. Get Equal.” campaign, visit the Women Moving Millions website here, or read the full campaign breakdown in this presentation from the WMM team.


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Author: Maggie May

Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist. A Maryland transplant by way of Florida, DC, Ireland, Philadelphia, and -- most recently -- Salt Lake City, she has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.

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