Women in Philanthropy: NonProfit Pro Spotlight of Philanthropy Women

You know it’s a good day when you get an email from NonProfit Pro Editor-in-Chief Nhu Te asking you for an interview.

women in philanthropy
It’s always fun to have your face on the cover of a magazine! NonProfit Pro interviewed seven thoughtful leaders on the rise of women’s giving. (Image Credit: NonProfit Pro)

In her article, entitled The Rise of Women in Philanthropy, Te combines the voices of seven different women leaders, creating an interesting effect.

The story looks at how women approach giving differently, and how their visibility and hands-on tactics set them apart as a gender.

Allison Fine, who has authored pieces here at Philanthropy Women and is the founder and CEO of Network of Elected Women, discussed some of the ways women’s giving is becoming less shaped by men. We team up nicely here with these quotes:

“The biggest trends are women giving on their own, not in the name of their husbands if they have one, and the explosive growth of giving circles. Giving circles are particularly well-suited to women, I think, because they are both social and philanthropic,” Allison Fine, author and founder and CEO of Network of Elected Women, said.

“Women [are] getting much more practical and hands-on with their giving, and I also see a lot of women recognizing that they can go full-on into gender equality giving,” Kiersten Marek, founder of Philanthropy Women, said.

She shares the example of Melinda Gates, who has always been a strong partner in the Gates’ philanthropy; but in recent years, her hands-on work in gender equality has increased to the point where she wrote a book proclaiming her feminism and talking in detail about how empowering women needs to be at the center of discussion on how to improve the world.

“She didn’t get these ideas by staying in the 1% bubble. She got them by going out into the world and seeing with her own eyes and hearing with her own ears about the world’s problems, and listening to, in my opinion, very wise leaders in the nonprofit sector,” Marek continued.

The whole article makes a great read. We were all asked about who we admire most in the landscape of women givers. All of our answers were given a short blurb, but I wanted to provide my answer in full, because context is important!

Q: Can you share a great example of a woman who is changing the philanthropic landscape?

I know so many, since I have made it part of my life’s work to discover as many of these stories as possible. I am going to have to go with a quick snapshot of one of my donors, with the caveat that of course there is a grantmaking relationship embedded in my comments. Ruth Ann Harnisch is someone who is changing the philanthropic landscape, particularly in the media sector. The Harnisch Foundation uses several strategies to support women filmmakers, and is helping to steer the film industry toward opening up to women. I believe the work of the Harnisch Foundation underpins important social movements of our time, including #MeToo and #TimesUp. 

Another important way that Ruth Ann Harnisch is helping to change the philanthropic landscape is by belonging to a number of gender equality funder networks including Rachel’s Network, Women Moving Millions, and the Women Donors Network. These networks serve as essential strategy hubs and provide the time and space for relationship-building in the gender equality giving sector. Also, Ruth Ann Harnisch makes herself visible as a leader, which helps to feed the pipeline of leadership for philanthropy at large. Online and in person, Ruth Ann Harnisch provides powerful leadership with her donor activism on gender equality issues.

The entire article has a lot to offer with all of the thought leaders interviewed, and reminds us of the exciting times we live in as women’s giving rises. And yes, I did get the last word. So check out the article.


Ruth Ann Harnisch: Modesty Does Not Serve Women’s Leadership

Ruth Ann Harnisch on Getting the Most Bang for Your Social Change Buck with Women’s Funds

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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