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.
Some of the best cheer we can bring to the holidays is through homemade gifts. Paul Newman discovered this when he and pal A.E. Hotchner made salad dressing for Christmas presents for friends and family, served up in recycled wine bottles. Out of this simple giving practice came the idea of Newman’s Own, a brand Paul Newman would put his name on in 1982 with the plan of giving all profits to charity. Since that time, the company has donated over $450 million dollars to organizations in the nonprofit sector.Although Newman’s Own started 33 years ago, Newman’s Own Foundation was established by Paul Newman in 2008 to ensure that his philanthropic legacy would continue. Newman asked Bob Forrester, who has spent his entire career in philanthropy, to be the Foundation’s president.
After receiving an initial grant in 2014 from the Knight News Challenge Awards, CODE2040 is getting a new grant of $1.2 million dollars from Knight to expand its programs that address the racial tech gap.This grant comes along at a time when the digital realm’s inclusion gaps are receiving more attention from funders, although racial equity has been on the radar for the Knight Foundation for many years.
The Arcus and NoVo Foundations are heading into new terrain on equity and inclusion. With Arcus as the lead funder investing $15 million over the next five years, and NoVo and other partners committing another $5 million, these funders are seeking to bring in from the margins transgender people who are being excluded from many of today’s opportunities, and face higher rates of violence, unemployment, and homelessness.
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.
While many families are buying all the extra fixings to make Thanksgiving dinner special, 79 percent of low-income households in Feeding America’s client base report “purchasing the cheapest food available, even if they knew it wasn’t the healthiest option, in an effort to provide enough food for their household.” We also know from Feeding America’s report, Hunger in America 2014, that food insecurity has been on the rise since the Great Recession: one in seven Americans rely on food banks to see them through. Viewed by race, the results are even more startling: One in four African Americans relies on a food bank; one in six Latinos. Meanwhile, some 45 million Americans rely on food stamps. It’s 2015, and hunger is still a huge problem in America. And it’s a problem inextricably linked to larger issues of economic hardship. In fact, many Americans who work face food insecurity, with studies finding that a growing share of food stamp recipients participate in the labor force. This is part of a broader story of the difficulties that low-wage workers face in making ends meet. Earlier this year, a study found that about 48 percent of home health care workers are on public assistance, as are 46 percent of child care workers and 52 percent of fast-food workers. Another big category of hungry people are older and disabled Americans on fixed incomes that fall short every month.
Criminal justice reform is one area of philanthropy that’s been rapidly gaining steam. A number of top foundations want to see what can be done to bring down incarceration rates, and are putting up capital in a variety of ways to work on the problem.The Fall issue of Responsive Philanthropy, recently published by NCRP, takes a deep dive into the new funding for criminal justice reform, which—as Aaron Dorfman writes—cuts across a breadth of work now under way to change “policing, prosecution policies, reentry opportunities and more.”