Charitable Giving: Women's Philanthropy Emerges as a Force

Charitable Giving: Women's Philanthropy Emerges as a Force

In the last 20 years there has been an astounding growth in women's funds, women's giving circles, women leading major fundraising efforts, and women donating millions of dollars to causes they care deeply about. A newly published book, "Women & Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World,"recounts these phenomena.

I spoke with Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, co-author along with Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, about their motivation for writing this book.

"Philanthropy has changed a great deal in the last two decades," Beaudoin-Schwartz said. "Even a few years ago, few were talking about passion, values, vision and responsibility. Now those terms and usage are commonplace. Now they mean women's philanthropy. In effect, women's philanthropy has led the way and 'reinvented' fundraising.

"As the communications director at the Maryland Philanthropy Network, I have seen firsthand how women's philanthropy has flourished in our community. We now have over 25 giving circles, bringing hundreds of women together to make their communities better."

No contradiction in terms

She noted that some still don't understand that "women's philanthropy" is not a contradiction in terms. Too often women are not taken seriously as philanthropists. And when they are, the ways women are approached to donate don't take into account how women give and what they care about.

The authors felt compelled to address these continuing issues, to foster an understanding that women now make up more than half the population and are perhaps the largest of many nonprofit organizations' donor constituencies. They also feel there's a need to update the concepts of fundraising that best appeal to women and will lead to the creation of more women philanthropic leaders.

Beaudoin-Schwartz pointed out that even administratively, organizations aren't adapting to this trend. For example, most nonprofit computer systems are designed to credit only one donor - the man.

Women are increasingly engaged in giving circles, global giving, transformative gifts, entrepreneurial giving, faith-based giving, family and couple giving, and social change gifts.

Changing the face of philanthropy

Sondra, Martha and Buffy spoke with numerous women and in the book, they identify strategies to better engage women in giving, as well as insights into developing women leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic arenas to help shape the future for the better.

Christine Grumm, president and CEO of the Women's Funding Network, believes that the importance of writing a book like "Women and Philanthropy" is that it provides a look at what has been, but more important, it also provides a road map for what is possible for women as donor leaders in changing the face of philanthropy.

There's no doubt that women's philanthropy will continue to grow to become an even more powerful force and our region - and this country - will be better for it.


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