For many decades, women have lived in the shadows of men in a number of areas. This has been especially true when it comes to charitable donations. Even if spouses were responsible for encouraging a benevolent act, she would rarely receive any credit whatsoever. But the climate is rapidly changing and in a very strong and powerful way. Led by some of today’s most powerful female philanthropy figures, perspectives are shifting. And more than anyone, women are taking note as a result.
Of course, female philanthropy is not something new. Women making a difference to support their communities have been around for well over a century. But what’s changing is the way they are choosing to give back to others and their ability to inspire. Certainly, the size of charitable contributions made by women today is growing. But that’s not the real shift. The bigger change involves their approach and choices related to charitable giving. Not only does this have to potential to create future generations committed to female philanthropy. It also has tremendous potential in stimulating significant social reforms. (Want to read more about giving back no matter what your time constraints may be? Check out this Project Bold Life story.)
The Uniqueness of Female Philanthropy
When it comes to charity and benevolent contributions, gender matters. Men and women don’t behave the same way or approach philanthropy in a similar fashion. In fact, single women donate two times as much in charitable contributions compared to single men. Likewise, women are more often the social influence that convince men into giving back to others. And women are much more likely to give collectively with other women in giving circles and groups. These are clearly unique features common to many women making a difference through philanthropy today.
While these qualities of women have always been apparent, female philanthropy is always evolving in new ways currently. In the past, women have been content to contribute to other causes in their husband’s name or to a charity of his choice. Even their own independent pursuits through community volunteerism were minimized or linked to their husband’s name. But that is no longer the case as female philanthropy is demanding center stage. Today’s women making a difference want to embrace a leadership role in their giving back. This is not so they may gain recognition or fame. Instead, it’s simply because they want to ensure their charitable efforts are having an optimal effect.
In this regard, women leaders today spend a great deal of time and energy researching which nonprofit or organization to support. They also want to know the effect a charity is having on the community in both the short-term and long-term. Similarly, women making a difference today want to have a broader impact in their charitable activities. Rather than donating to a single entity, they instead strive to support a variety of areas in need. All of this is what makes female philanthropy rather unique and different compared to giving strategies of old. It’s also the reason many see great opportunities for social progress as a result. (Read more about the traits of women leaders in this Project Bold Life story.)
Key Women Making a Difference Today
Dozens of women involved in philanthropy are making a difference in the lives of many today. Nonprofit organizations like The Women’s Fund and Women’s Funding Network have more than doubled in their membership. And educated and informed women are seeking opportunities to promote change in a variety of areas. The following are a few of these female philanthropy leaders who are serving as a source of inspiration to millions.
- Priscilla Chan – Dr. Chan launched the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative along with her significant other, Mark Zuckerberg. As an education advocate and entrepreneur, she wishes to promote equality in areas involving health, education, scientific research and energy. Together, they plan to invest 99 percent of their wealth acquired from Facebook shares over time in this initiative. Dr. Chan is also responsible for launching Summit Learning, which provides online tools for customizing education.
- Melinda Gates – This well-known female philanthropy leader was a major reason Bill Gates became heavily involved in charity. But Mrs. Gates has done a great deal on her own through her own initiatives. In 2015, she launched her own investment and incubation company called Pivotal Ventures. She then started Maverick Collective, which strives to connect female philanthropy leaders. Specifically, this collective recruits women who have donated $1million or more to women’s heath initiatives.
- Laurene Powell Jobs – One of the women making a difference today includes Laurene Powell Jobs. She is known for founding College track, which helps underprivileged children attend college. She has also invested in the creation of a documentary regarding Dreamers and undocumented immigrants to educate the public. And she has contributed over a quarter of a million to her Emerson Collective, which looks to promote effective journalism.
- Mackenzie Scott – In the last year alone, Mackenzie Scott has donated roughly $6 billion to hundreds of charities. Each has been well-researched with many involving historically Black universities and colleges. She has given back a significant portion of her wealth acquired this year with the boom in Amazon stock. And she founded The Giving Pledge in 2019 encouraging members to distribute half their wealth they acquire in their lifetime.
A Powerful and Much-Needed Force
In terms of charitable support, women’s projects are poorly supported. Reports indicate that only 1.6 percent of funds offered to nonprofits support women’s issues. Even worse, about 0.5 percent of these contributions go to women of color. This makes female philanthropy all the more important because of the groups women will target. This combined with the fact that women’s overall wealth has doubled offers hope for these projects. The progress being made in this area today resulted from efforts by women making a difference in the past. And hundreds of women today inspired by their generosity will encourage many more to follow. Without question, the act of giving back is evolving right before our eyes. And the growing efforts in female philanthropy is the major force behind these changes.
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