A survey of 1,000 philanthropists revealed that many donors simply do not know of organizations that devote their efforts to women and girls. Some donors feel the issues facing women and girls are too complex and the remedies too hard to scale up – as if this is an informed assessment of the possibilities. If we understand how many women live in poverty, we can see that as a measure of extreme need in virtually every area of women’s lives: education, health, housing, livelihood, and protection from violence.
Current national surveys on philanthropic giving do not consider “women’s and girl’s issues” (W&GI) aa a distinct giving category. Instead, it gets bundled into pre-existing categories such as ‘human services’ – which get about 12% of charitable dollars each year.
The Women’s Philanthropic Institute found that between 2000 and 2014, 1,226 gifts worth $6.22 billion were directed specifically to W&GI. The figure represents just 1.6 percent of all gifts included in the data. At the same time, women’s funds and foundations have estimated that only 5 – 7% of all foundation giving is directed specifically to W&GI.
This range – between 1.6% and 7% – is indeed a troubling commentary on the disconnect between donors and the needs of women and girls. Women Moving Million co-chair Jacqueline Zehner believes women donors hold the key to unlocking the potential of women and girl around the world. I am certain she is right.
My home, the San Francisco Bay area, one of the wealthiest urban areas in the U.S., ranks 45th in charitable giving. We improve this by learning about the work being done to empower the neediest women of our community, and putting serious money into it.
Women’s Centers International has a well tested Model for advancing the skills and power of marginalized women. It’s an every-day effort to fund the implementation of that Model where it’s needed. More committed women donors will make the effort exhilarating for all of us.