As the power of women grows in society, their influence in philanthropy is simultaneously increasing. A recent study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, “How and Why Women Give 2015,” reveals that, due to significant progress toward social and economic equity with men, “women have never before had so much control over philanthropic resources.” On top of that, the world is going through an awakening about investing in the rights and well-being of women and girls like never before.With all this going on, major developments for women and philanthropy seem to be happening at every turn. Here is a review of some of the significant trends and emerging topics in women and philanthropy from 2015.
On November 4, we held a webinar called Impact Giving for Women and Girls of Color, a first-of-its-kind online forum to discuss where funding is headed for this population, featuring three expert speakers on the topic: NoVo Executive Director Pamela Shifman, Scholar C. Nicole Mason, and Southern Black Rural Women’s Initiative leader Oleta Fitzgerald.It was an amazing experience. I received several emails from attendees in the afterhours, wanting to discuss the future of this movement and looking for ways to guide and coordinate efforts.
Question: If funding to support boys and men of color is a priority, with some two dozen foundations involved, why are women and girls of color not an equal priority?The fact is that few new philanthropic efforts are aimed specifically at improving the lives of girls and young women of color.
A small program attached to an equally small liberal arts college has been providing thought leadership and a legion of boots on the ground for reproductive justice since the 1980s. Where do they get their money, and how has this operation been sustainable?The Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP) at Hampshire College was founded in 1981, and since that time, it has helped to fuel both movement-building leadership and activist strategy for the cause of reproductive justice. Marlene Gerber Fried, Faculty Director of CLPP and Professor of Philosophy, and Mia Sullivan, Director of CLPP, took some time to discuss their work with Inside Philanthropy recently, so we could learn more about how this organization was formed and stays funded.
In her 2014 book, Generation Unbound: Drifting Into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage, Isabel V. Sawhill argues that unplanned births are a main cause of poverty, and that one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty (as well as inequality) is to help women, particularly young women, prevent unplanned pregnancies.
This is hardly a new idea, but Sawhill’s research has given it more heft, and anti-poverty funders should be paying close attention. While reducing unplanned pregnancies isn’t easy, it’s arguably a much lighter lift than tackling many of the other factors that underlie poverty, and that’s especially true in light of advances in contraception, as we’ll see in a moment. Enabling women to better control their fertility is also a classic upstream intervention that forestalls the need to address a range of other social problems, delivering lots of bang for the buck. Still, for various reasons, many funders that work on poverty steer well away from this area.
In the United States, discussion of marginalized groups often revolves around terms like discrimination, rights, and integration. Elsewhere in the world, though, the focus is more on inclusion versus exclusion—which, arguably, is a more comprehensive and useful frame.
A commitment to battling exclusion is core to the Open Society Foundations, which has offices in over 30 countries and partners in dozens more. By now, the OSF story is the stuff of legend—how George Soros, the philosopher hedge fund king, used his market winnings to help bring down communism and went on to bankroll a global network of local foundations to advance the ideals of open society, making sure “no one has a monopoly on the truth” and no groups are consigned to the margins.
In the past year or so, the tech world has come under scrutiny for male overrepresentation. A high-profile sex discrimination suit was filed against VC firm Kleiner Perkins, and there’s been a rash of cases of women experiencing online harassment in tech circles. Meanwhile, in a very different development, corporations of all kinds that rely on skilled workers have awakened to the need to ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce has a strong education in science and math. There’s just not enough geeky white guys to go around anymore.
Google is at the center of the tech universe, and men comprise 70 percent of its workforce, so it would be hard for them not to notice the problem—or feel the heat.
One way Google has been addressing the STEM gender gap is by providing RISE awards—grants of $15,000 to $50,000 that focus on educating girls, minorities, and low-income students up to age 18 in computer science, helping to prepare them for workforce jobs at places like Google.