Thursday, August 19, 2010

Institutionalizing Women's Philanthropy: Creating a Critical Mass

Lesley Stahl
More and more websites are dedicated to women and women's issues such as It's All About Women and WOWOWOW started by such luminary names as Lesley Stahl, Jean Chatzky, Liz Smith, Candice Bergen, Lily Tomlin and Marlo Thomas.  Both sites are very interesting and provide a great deal of information ranging from money to relationships.  However, neither prominently mentions women's philanthropy.  In fact, WOWOWOW has a heading called "Sheconomics" which has five subcategories: earn, grow, invest, save, and spend.  Nothing about give.

I thought about this and decided to write the two sites and strongly suggest they add the category of philanthropy.  In our new book, Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World, Debra Mesch and Andrea Pactor from the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, suggest that in order for women's philanthropy to become institutionalized, a critical mass needs to be formed.  What better advocates for creating a critical mass of women philanthropists and all that would mean, than websites devoted to women?  I applaud both sites in that other than the ads, they do not focus on fashion and makeup.  But wouldn't it be nice if they advocated an outcome of women's issues?  An outcome that will change the world because of the different ways women give.
As a sample of what to say, here is a modified version of what I wrote: 
I very much enjoy your website and glad to see it devoted solely to topics of interest to women.  And in that vein, I hope that you will add philanthropy as one of your topics.  Women's philanthropy is a leading topic of the day as women control more money, earn more money, give away more money, and influence couple giving.   
Based on research from the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, women's philanthropy is quite different from men's and women's way of giving is becoming the norm in philanthropy, as women set out to create a better world.  
Your support of women’s philanthropy is crucial as a major factor in women’s lives and that of people all over the world.  Please help create a critical mass of women as philanthropists and institutionalize women's philanthropy, by recognizing it as a separate and very important topic for your website.
On my August 23 blog, I wrote about Bolder Giving receiving $650,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Anne Ellinger from Bolder Giving informs me that there is more to the story: in order to receive the money, Bolder Giving must match the grant by raising $200,000 annually in a three year challenge.  Anne said she wanted people to know that as wonderful as the support is, they still need your contributions.

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