Heavy Hitters Collaborate on New Blueprint for Women’s Funds to Lead Social Change

Things are really coming together for women’s funds and gender lens investing, as this new report details.

The new report is written by Joy Anderson, President and Founder of Criterion Institute, Ms. Foundation President Teresa Younger, and Elizabeth Schaffer, Chief Operating Officer of the Global Fund for Women.

I have not read the report in total yet, but from my first foray in, I am really excited to see how these advanced thinkers and leaders are putting ideas together and finding new synergy for social change and finance. This is powerful stuff!

The report is written using architectural design as an extended metaphor for how to integrate the different sectors of finance, women’s funds, and social change theory. Combining these three components, the report then makes practical suggestions about how to influence issues like domestic violence, the gender wage gap, and climate change.

For example, the paper tackles research questions such as “How viable is it to source investment opportunities through women’s funds’ current grant making process?”

Then it goes on to provide detailed steps for how to do this, using the Global Fund for Women as an example, which tested a pilot for this:

The Global Fund for Women pilot tested this approach by:

  1. Reviewing 4,650 applications in the grant-making database
  2. Identifying 260 research participants through keyword search
  3. Collecting 135 responses to an online survey to assess potential investment opportunities
  4. Identifying 16 potential candidates for follow-up interviews by analysing the survey results
  5. Completing interviews and profiling 13 grantees, mapping the type and amount of capital that would be relevant to their work.

For more details on the findings contact Liz Schaffer at the Global Fund for Women.

Wow! I will definitely be following up with Liz Schaffer to hear more about this.

The research paper then goes on to provide detailed “floor plans” for how to create social change by melding gender lens investing with the philanthropy of women’s funds in different ways. Here is part of the “floor plan” for addressing domestic violence:

Floor Plans:

  •   Channel Resources to Enterprises and Investment Opportunities: Move capital to efforts to support response to domestic violence or to enterprises that address the underlying causes of domestic violence
  •   Advocate for Gender Analysis in Finance: Assign value of an investment’s potential risk or return, drawn from data patterns, around domestic violence in industries and sectors within a geography
  •   Realign Power Through Structures and Terms: Employ specific structures to shape incentives and deterrents for businesses to respond to their own practices that may be encouraging or could be preventing domestic violence.

I am going back to reading, and I encourage everyone in the women’s philanthropy realm to do the same. Full report here.

Author: Kiersten Marek

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

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