Women Changing the Face of Philanthropy

Women have changed the face of philanthropy. With more money and increased control and influence over how it is spent, more women than ever are making philanthropic investments to help address and solve the problems of our time.

Consider these facts:

  • Women represent 51 percent of the nation’s Ph.Ds, 67 percent of college graduates and more than 70 percent of 2012’s valedictorians.
  • Women run more than 10 million businesses with combined annual sales of $1.1 trillion and make 80 percent of consumer buying decisions.
  • 26 percent of working wives make more than their working husbands.
  • Female-headed households are more likely to give to charity than male-headed households, and, at nearly every income level, women donate almost twice as much to charity as men.
  • Women will inherit 70 percent of the $41 trillion in inter-generational wealth transfer expected over the next 40 years.
  • By 2025, 60 percent of billionaires are expected to be women.
  • Women now control more than half of the private wealth in the U.S.
  • Yet, out of every dollar granted by U.S. foundations, less than 8 cents funds programs for women and girls.

With this background, women are approaching philanthropy on two fronts: by developing programs that help them become better, more strategic philanthropists, and by joining charitable ventures dedicated to addressing issues facing women and girls.

For generations, women have worked collaboratively in quilting, canning, book and investment circles. The same drive to learn and act collectively has spawned women’s giving circles where women combine donations and make collective decisions about which causes to support.

“Women are more comfortable working in community, making decisions together, pooling resources and leveraging their collective impact than men,” says Donna Hall, president of the Women Donors Network (womendonors.org), a national network of women philanthropists that leverages more than $150 million a year toward solutions that address the root causes of injustice and inequality.

Women Moving Millions (womenmovingmillions.org), founded by sisters Swanee and Helen LaKelly Hunt, brings women together to significantly increase the amount of funding that supports the advancement of women and girls globally.

Other national resources include the Women’s Funding Network (womensfundingnetwork.org), connecting more than 160 organizations that fund women’s issues across the globe and the Global Fund for Women (www.globalfundforwomen.org), bringing grantees and donors together in an international network that promotes women’s action for social change and justice.

The 25-year-old Colorado Women’s Foundation (wfco.org) is “uniquely positioned to partner with women who want to give strategically to serve women and girls and help them achieve their full potential,” says foundation president Louise Atkinson. The foundation focuses on helping the 325,000 women who live in poverty and the 6,000 girls who drop out of high school annually in Colorado.

Many community foundations support women donors with initiatives such as The Denver Foundation’s Wise Women Give (denverfoundation.org/community/page/wise-women-give), the Rose Community Foundation’s Rose Women’s Organization (rcfdenver.org/rwo/), the Jewish Women’s Fund of Colorado (rcfdenver.org/jwfc/), and the Douglas County Community Foundation’s (dccf.org) Dames Who Give a Damn.

Mile High United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council (unitedwaydenver.org/wlc) has more than 1,600 members, giving more than $8 million to local causes.

At the American Red Cross, women join the Tiffany Circle (coloradoredcross.org/tiffany) to support the organization’s vital work. In Boulder, BoldeReach (boldereach.org) supports nonprofits aiding women and children in extreme need.

Judith Rodin, Ph.D., president of the Rockefeller Foundation, stated that in order to change the world, “the single most important thing we can do is unleash the full power of half the people on the planet — women.”   Women are flexing their individual and collective muscles, searching for deeper, sustainable solutions to pressing problems, giving more thoughtfully and strategically, and achieving greater outcomes with philanthropy than ever before.


Nonprofit of the Month

Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute demonstrates that business ownership can be a powerful tool for individuals seeking greater economic opportunity and self-sufficiency. Through programs like the Business Launch Boot Camp and the Business Builder Loan Program, RMMFI provides business planning support, access to resources, flexible microloans, and a network of volunteer mentors. rmmfi.org


Bruce DeBoskey is a Colorado-based philanthropic adviser, helping families, businesses and foundations with their philanthropic initiatives. You can reach him at bruce@deboskeygroup.com.