Exposing The Say-Do Gap for Racial Justice Giving: WPI’s New Report

Well hello my philanthro community! It’s great to be back at my Philanthropy Women dashboard, ready to share some insights on feminist giving and dive into the latest news on gender equality.

This week, I’d like to discuss the newest report from Women’s Philanthropy Institute entitled Racial Justice, Gender and Generosity. The report explores the giving trends of a sample 2,073 US households surveyed in May of 2021, and asks them questions about their involvement with and giving behavior related to racial justice causes.

The latest report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute explores racial justice, gender and generosity. (Image credit: WPI)

The report uncovers some significant findings, including that more than 4 in 10 U.S. households (42.0%) supported or were actively involved in racial justice protests of 2020. This was a surprisingly high number in my mind, one that gives me renewed hope for our country and the shared value we place on racial equality.

Even more surprising: nearly half of single women (48.2%) reported participating actively in racial justice protests. That single women report such a high level of participation in racial justice activity suggests that these women might have more empathy about discrimination faced by racial groups.

Also in the potentially higher level of empathy category are Black households, LGBTQ+ households, and younger households, all of whom showed higher levels of support for the 2020 racial justice protests and were more likely to give money to support racial justice causes and organizations.

For me, the most significant finding in this report is the fact that only 1 in 7 or 14% of surveyed households gave money to support racial justice causes and organizations. This finding brought to mind what Marguerite Casey Foundation CEO Carmen Rojas and an initiative called Answer the Uprising refer to as the “Say-Do Gap” in philanthropy for racial justice. Answer the Uprising is an initiative highlighting how the words spoken by larger philanthropic entities on racial justice are not always backed up by real dollars going to fight for the cause. The initiative urges donors to get those dollars distributed to fund the work.

While the WPI research is about individual donors rather than larger philanthropy organizations, it seems to describe a similar trend and giving gap. According to this research, an estimated 6 out of 7 supporters of racial justice causes do not give money to fund the work. Only 1 in 7 people has the lightbulb go on in their head about how it’s not enough to talk or go to protests about racial justice — you also need to make that change happen by devoting financial resources to it.

Part of my takeaway from this new research is a reminder about how hard it is to recognize our own blind spots in the collective fight to address racial equality. The WPI research performs a critical function in raising awareness about the ways we approach social change, and what we need to do to align our intentions with our actions as both activists and funders.

Make sure to check out the full report on this research at WPI’s website.

And Now, on to the Top 10 Gender Equality Funding Stories for the Week

1: Co-Impact Launches $1 Billion Gender Fund: This new ONE BILLION in funding will go to support initiatives in the Global South and will work to improve the lives of over 100 million people. Funders include: Tsitsi Masiyiwa, MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett, Melinda French Gates and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Estée Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Thankyou Charitable Trust, Vidya Shah and others.  More information here. Full list of first grantees being supported:

2: Daughters for Earth Aims to Raise $100 Million for Women-Led Efforts to Protect and Restore the Earth: Daughters for Earth, a new campaign to mobilize women for climate change action globally, recently launched at SXSW. Co-founded by Jody Allen, CEO of Wild Lives Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, Justin Winters, Executive Director & Co-Founder of One Earth, and Rachel Rivera, COO of Wild Lives Foundation, the initiative is raising $100 million dollars for ecofeminist solutions. More information here.

3. Ms. Foundation for Women Promotes Ellen Liu to VP: The Ms. Foundation for Women recently announced the promotion of Ellen Liu to the role of Vice President of Grantmaking and Capacity Building. Ellen brings over 15 years of experience in gender equality philanthropy, capacity building, policy advocacy, and organizational development in support of social justice organizations the US and abroad.

4. Donors of Color Releases New Report: In a first-of-its-kind report on high net worth BIPOC donors entitled Philanthropy Always Sounds Like Someone Else, Donors of Color identifies unique features, trends, and barriers experienced by BIPOC givers. A couple of highlights from the report: 65% of HNW BIPOC givers are first-generation wealth creators. Also, according to the report, 44.4% of BIPOC donors prioritize social justice, 39.7% prioritize gender equality, 36% prioritize racial justice, and 34.9% prioritize health.

5. Biden Harris Administration Announces Commitments to Advance Pay Equity and Support Women’s Economic Security: New government funding will boost pay for child care workers, expand the child tax credit, and take other measures to address financial equality for women. More information here.

6. Radha Friedman Provides Guidance on How to Support Ukrainian Women During Russian Invasion: Radha Friedman has put together a post on how to support Ukrainian women, with helpful links for donations. Check out the post here. Radha has also been busy launching a new podcast series cleverly called Radhacal Good. Recent guests on the podcast include Ada Williams Prince of Pivotal Ventures and gender lens investing expert Tracy Gray. Check it out here.

7. Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Olympic Athlete Allyson Felix, and Seekher Foundation launch Innovative Campaign: The grantmaking initiative is launching with an inaugural program called “No” Grants — grants to help professional women say “no” at work, so they can say “yes” to themselves. More information here.

8. Brave Philanthropist Project Will Amplify and Empower Women in Philanthropy: In addition to redefining what philanthropy looks like, the new Brave Philanthropist campaign aims to raise awareness about the need to support women’s and girls’ charities, which currently receive less than 2% of total U.S. giving. More information here.

9. Six Black Female Fundraising Professionals You Should Know: Because I agree with Elizabeth Barajas Román that we should celebrate Black history all year, check out this list of six amazing women fundraising professionals of color, including Yolanda F. Johnson, one of our authors here at PW.

10. Barstool Tries to Clean Up Reputation with New Philanthropy Partially Aimed at Supporting Women in Business: The initiative will have four parts, one with a gender equality funding strategy to help women-run businesses. Barstool CEO Erika Nardini will lead the “Work Like a Girl” initiative supporting women-owned businesses. More information here.


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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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