Category Archives: Advocacy

Women Delivered!

woman in white shirt and denim jeans carries skate shoes and tote bag

Photo by Jean-Baptiste Burbaud on Pexels.com

“Change starts with every single one of us.”

Earlier this summer, my home city Vancouver welcomed the world to the fifth Women Deliver conference. If you’re not familiar with Women Deliver, it began as a convening for medical professionals and policy advocates in reproductive rights of women and girls, more than ten years ago. The conference has since grown to include youth voices; technology and change; the future of work; and innovative philanthropy. Speakers included global “big deal” figures Melinda Gates, Angelique Kidjo and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In my capacity as an information and non-profit professional committed to personal growth, I entered the convention centre not knowing exactly what to expect from the endless sessions or vast number of delegates (about 8,000 people to be more exact). I was sure though that each energetic soul on site intended to share and grow power; work towards progress; and create change, all to advance gender equality in positive ways.

Reflecting on all that I heard and learned from the world’s foremost feminist thought leaders, this experience has enhanced and altered my perspective on philanthropy. “Breaking the current charitable model” resonates still, months later.

We are finally living in a nation and world that takes the rights and well-being of women and girls seriously. How? By funding them. Period. Money – lots of it – was announced at Women Deliver to advance gender equality initiatives around the world which have been chronically under-funded until now. The new Canadian-led Equality Fund, comprised of $400M, is designed and funded by feminists in government, the private sector, international NGOs and community foundations. Championed by Canadian Jess Tomlin and others, the Fund will go a long way to deliver better outcomes for women and girls here at home and around the world in unprecedented ways.

“Money is a very specific type of power, and we believe that one of the most powerful things we can do is move significant money into the hands of women leaders driving change in their communities. Canada and the world can do more to shift power in this way,” said Theo Sowa, CEO of The African Women’s Development Fund, in a press release.  

In one of the most memorable sessions, Maame Akua Kyerewaa-Marfo, also of the African Women’s Development Fund, spoke eloquently from a beneficiary’s perspective, challenging traditional “hand out” ways of giving by the donor down to the beneficiary. Rather, Maame advocated for more “collective thinking” and participation in grant-making and philanthropy.

“We want to hold hands. Giving is more circular now,” Maame noted. She also talked about increasing the depth and impact of our efforts, by funding the art, beauty and romance of life, not just survival areas like business, law and medicine.

She instantly won me over when she proclaimed, “Women are the original philanthropists!”

Maame’s comments led me to wonder about the role of WGCI and giving circles in advancing gender equality. Already well-versed in collective participation, how can we help?  My hope is that members and advocates of the giving circle movement in North America and beyond will take a seat at the table. We need to be at the next Women Deliver conference! Beneficiaries are calling on our collective power to help create change and ensure continual progress.

What makes a conference truly meaningful? All the amazingly diverse, intelligent, values-driven and warm personalities I met through the course of the week. Many had wonderful words of wisdom, but youth leader and advocate Natasha Mwansa, 18, captivated hearts and minds early, with one powerful statement, during the opening plenary:

“Nothing about us, for us, without us, or it won’t work for us.”

Watch Women Deliver’s conference highlights: HERE

Prospecting for the Single Girl

When we stop pitying single women, then we can finally begin to understand, appreciate and pursue them as the promising prospective donors they truly are for charitable advancement. It’s about time, wouldn’t you agree? Have a listen to my latest audio message about this topic.

PRESS PLAY HERE

I hope you care enough to comment, but do ask you to keep your comments constructive.

As I raise my “crazy cat wrangler” coffee cup to you on International Women’s Day this week, thank you so kindly for listening.

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Post-audio references:

Andrea Bain, Single Girl Problems: Why Being Single Isn’t a Problem to be Solved (Dundurn Press, Toronto, 2018)

IUPUI Women’s Philanthropy Institute – Do Women Give More? Research summary – https://philanthropy.iupui.edu/doc/institutes/exec-summary-wpi-blue.pdf

#IWD2018

#ResearchPride

 

 

Empowering Philanthropic Women: Survey Said

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Renewed by some conference learning courtesy of CPRA, Apra’s Colorado chapter, I’m writing from Fort Collins, Colorado, where I had the joy and pleasure of presenting “A Woman’s Place is in Your Prospect Portfolio.” Here, I outlined a business case and moral imperative for identifying, researching, engaging and stewarding women donors. Specifically, I offered suggestions for fund development organizations to start – or carry on confidently – on the wonderful journey of advancing female philanthropy with practical data techniques and engagement strategies.

In the presentation, I drew from some survey data that was informally and unscientifically collected, collated and analyzed by yours truly. Here are some highlights about what you shared with me.

Missing Women’s Report 

For prospect development and fundraising professionals, prioritizing or at least including her in prospect research profiles and prospect portfolios formed a prominent theme:

“Put her information first in a profile, and his in the spouse section.”

“Get over the discomfort of estimating non-visible wealth! Present the household wealth and philanthropic picture, not the single biggest gift.”

“Provide balanced information on a couple. Ensure that women (mothers, daughters, and granddaughters) are included in research. Also, provide some insight into maternal lineage.”

“Strategy should include HER interests and passions. Do not make assumptions on how previous donations were decided.”

Reach Out to Her

I also asked how female fundraisers in particular, can better engage women donors in our respective missions and causes. You shared some practical approaches like:

“It may be beneficial to have two fundraisers at a meeting so a quieter spouse can be drawn out in conversation.”

“Engage women on a one-to-one basis, focus on *her* unique reason for giving; empower her vision for a better world, and honour her decisions.”

“Treat them like individuals, not stereotypical “pink” females; create more social opportunities; advocate for volunteer leadership opportunities.”

Where We Women At?

The notion or concept of invisibility permeated through cautionary (and blunt) statements about marketing / communication and stewardship of women donors:

“Think very carefully before giving an honourary degree to half of a power couple. This could be very insulting to a woman if she doesn’t receive the same recognition.”

“I am very sensitive to the images that we use in fundraising materials; recognize that we use a lot of unbearably paternalistic poses of masculine elder and eager student.”

“Seriously stop it with the old white dudes holding giant cheques.”

Broader Problems

Many survey respondents are not optimistic that the fundraising and philanthropic communities will make steady strides soon, pointing to systemic issues in gender parity:

“It looks like a few women are going to have to set big examples to get noticed. Right now major gifts are usually credited to a couple or a family even if a woman prompted it.”

“Unfortunately, much needs to be done to educate fundraisers that they need to do a better job of reaching out to all prospective donors, regardless of gender. I’m not optimistic that there will be major advances in women’s philanthropy anytime soon.”

“Advancing women’s philanthropy” is closely tied to “advancing women” — this issue is part of a much bigger problem of how we view and treat women, and women of different backgrounds, races, gender identities, etc.”

Your care and commitment to this topic shone through, dear survey respondents, so thank you so much for participating!

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I’m heartened by the thoughtful questions and comments CPRA attendees shared with me about women’s philanthropy at last week’s conference. It’s clear many are already thinking about how to unravel conventional data practices that have literally hidden women’s contributions to their respective organizations. I suggested a full and thorough data audit using a gender lens, covering wide aspects of fund development operations – donations processing, donor communication rules, formal research, prospect portfolios, and stewardship practices. It takes more work, but it’s clearly worth understanding women’s contributions to your organization; a critical piece in better understanding our donor bases of strong support. 

As always, would you please care to comment on this post? Our community is stronger with information exchange and dialogue. THANK YOU!