Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece by Jeannie Infante Sager, Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, explores the implications of recent philanthropic giving from MacKenzie Scott.
MacKenzie Scott’s recent round of donations brings her total giving to more than $12 billion, benefitting 1,257 nonprofit organizations since 2020. With 60% of her gifts supporting women-led organizations, this is a transformational moment for the visibility of women’s roles in philanthropy and is redefining what it means to give.
It’s hard to render me speechless. I am accustomed to speaking and responding frequently. As a healthcare provider, it is a big part of my job. And when COVID happened, as an editor and writer, I took extra time and energy to create a COVID 19 special edition to call attention to women’s leadership at that critical juncture.
But as a writer and as an American, I have been rendered speechless over the last week since the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
It is impossible to imagine the horror of the parents and families of these innocent children and teachers. And to read that one fourth grade girl called multiple times begging for the police to come — it just brings me to a place of utter speechlessness for the degraded state of our country. We are truly a nation of savages. Or perhaps even worse than savages — people who will knowingly and willingly put children in harm’s way.
Elizabeth Warren has described the decades-long fight to protect Roe as standing high up on a ledge, and every year the ledge has gotten smaller and smaller. The upcoming SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade removes the last sliver of the ledge.
Overturning Roe has been the goal of the reactionary Right: to whitewash America by oppressing women and people of color. It’s not a byproduct of their relentless 40-year effort to turn back the clock, it is the point.
To be clear, women living in states like Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alabama have been living in a post-Roe world for a while. Still, it’s one thing not to have limited access, it’s another to be imprisoned for murder.
What a disturbing time for humanity. It turns out that several of our new Supreme Court justices are outright liars about their commitment to Roe. v. Wade as the law of the land. As a result, we are now facing the end of legal abortion care in the U.S. What should funders of a pro-choice world do?
That’s a big question, but it all comes down to increasing funding for women. If we increase funding for women, particularly women’s health care and women in political leadership, we can increase the ability for women to control their own lives. These are two of the most significant areas that need more funding, if we want to solve the problem of access to abortion.
“This gift is about supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs,” said Kendra Scott, philanthropist, designer and professor of practice at University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts. Since 2019, when Scott first started an institute for women’s leadership in business at the school, she has enjoyed seeing women expand their horizons. “I’ve loved seeing UT create a space where women are inspired and motivated to be leaders in business and to use their knowledge, skills, and energy to keep changing the world and outdated business stereotypes.”
Kendra Scott started her company in 2002, just three months after her first son was born. With $500 and a love for dynamic design and good quality materials, she grew a start-up jewelry business into a company with over 2,000 employees (96% women) and expanded the product line to include home décor and beauty.
1: New HS Chau Women in Enterprising Science Program Launches from the Innovative Genomics Institute: The new program will work to enhance “gender equity in bio-entrepreneurship.” With philanthropic support from the foundation of Solina Chau Hoi Shuen (co-founder of Horizons Ventures in Hong Kong), the program is now accepting proposals from entrepreneurs “seeking to translate genomics research into impactful solutions to real-world challenges and advance the representation of women founders in biotechnology.” More information here.
One of the reasons I started Philanthropy Women in 2017 was because I was so impressed by the NoVo Foundation and its commitment of $90 million in new funding for women and girls of color. It seemed to me that if mainstream philanthropy could make that big and sudden of a footprint on helping women and girls of color, there was hope for the world after all.
Now, five years and over 1,100 articles later, I am thrilled to announce a new partnership between Alliance magazine, the first and only major philanthropy magazine with a global focus, and Philanthropy Women. I believe Alliance magazine has the potential to be an important ally to Philanthropy Women, since Alliance takes the most inclusive lens with which to view the complex problems of humanity — the global lens — when providing journalism about donors and social change.
Very few of us can get away with challenging the capitalist and male-dominated values of our country. Unless you have a lot of money, you generally make more headway in American society if you watch every word you say and every move you make to ensure they remain within the lines of the men-first, pro-business, money-above-everything mentality that surrounds us. But MacKenzie Scott is able to challenge these ideas by sharing her resources with organizations that are doing the work on the ground for a better quality of life in America.
This week, MacKenzie Scott put organization names and faces to the recent $3.8 billion she distributed. The money went to a vast array of organizations that support the social and economic fabric of our culture. Here on PW, we are going to provide the gender-lens pull-out list of organizations receiving funding, with the proviso that there are other layers in her funding that satisfy feminist giving values around equity and inclusion but are not explicitly addressing gender bias. These organizations are helping us navigate new territory as a society, a place where we can prioritize healthier relationships, personal wellness, and quality education and healthcare experiences. Almost all of the organizations on this list have been covered in articles here at Philanthropy Women over the past five years.
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 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.
Jane Manning, former sex crimes prosecutor and current survivor advocate, considers herself a person who doesn’t back down when it comes to seeking criminal justice accountability for sexual assault. “There aren’t a lot of us doing this kind of work in the nonprofit zone,” she said.
Manning has spent much of her life prosecuting sex crimes, domestic violence, and child abuse. As a survivor advocate, she has also immersed herself in the complex social issues involved in the fight to end violence against women. Now, as Director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project, Manning helps sexual assault survivors push back on a criminal justice system that is all too willing to dismiss their rights.