Women Philanthropists...Today's Change Makers
The participation by women in a broad array of philanthropic causes is not new. What has changed, however, is the manner in which they are participating. In addition to providing time and talent to charitable organizations and causes, women are now donating money at such unprecedented levels that they have created a new paradigm in philanthropy known as "community capital." In context, the phrase refers to effecting broad community change through the availability of the philanthropic support of women.
Formally engaging women in philanthropy began through the formation of networks originating in earnest during the 1990s in California. During this time, both non-profit and for-profit organizations began specific programs and initiatives geared to involve women in philanthropic giving. Activity sprang from volunteerism and mushroomed to encourage small donors in numbers sufficient to make a significant difference in the contribution levels of women.
The outcome of these early efforts has yielded very substantial gifts in recent years to all types of organizations and causes on a national scale. An impressive listing of various philanthropic gifts made by women is maintained by the University of Michigan and can be found on its Web site at www.women-philanthropy.edu/donors/index.html.
The women philanthropists listed come from all backgrounds and professions. Among those listed are nurses Mary Ann Boyd and Mary Briggs. In 2001, Boyd, a former nurse at the Baptist Health Medical Center, in Little Rock, AR, left a $3 million bequest to the Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute Foundation for unrestricted use. In 1999, Mary Briggs, a retired nurse, from Winston Salem, NC, donated property from her estate valued at $2,000,000 to the Davidson County Community College for nursing scholarships. Briggs had attended the college and wanted to "give back" by making it easier financially for those nurses coming behind her. As more women work outside the home and as the corresponding societal norms have changed, women tend to have less time to devote to volunteer activities but more in the way of financial resources.
In their 2001 book titled, Reinventing Fundraising: Realizing the Potential of Women's Philanthropy, Sondra Shar and Martha Taylor created a template called the Six Cs - Create, Change, Connect, Collaborate, Commit, Celebrate to describe the engagement of women in philanthropy. [See below.]
As has long been the custom among women, they are continuing to create change and doing so on a national scale. Current changes afoot are being fueled by their financial capacity to make a difference that pushes the boundaries philanthropy, such that a paradigm shift in charitable giving is now attributed to women - whose numbers are, once again, "too big to ignore."
Create - that creating new solutions to old problems, creating new organizations and programs, especially those that focus on women and girls is of high interest to women philanthropists
Change - that promoting change through the use of their financial resources is a message that resonates among women
Connect - that connecting with others with similar interests, convening groups, if you will, of those whose purposes stimulate discussion regarding philanthropic giving is valued by women
Collaborate - that collaborating with groups and organizations seeking funding is the preferred manner developing the charitable interest of women
Commit - that committing to specific philanthropic goals and following the progress, results, and use of their philanthropic dollars is important in the charitable giving of women
Celebrate - that celebrating the results of their philanthropy is a key ingredient that keeps giving fun for women