Degrading the Fearless Girl: Why People Lean on Misogyny for Progress

On May 29th 2017, an artist created and positioned a urinating dog, “Pissing Pug,” next to the “Fearless Girl” statue situated in front of the famous Wall Street “Charging Bull.” 

He said his goal was “spreading awareness about the corporate origins of the statue” and to highlight the negative aspects of Wall Street. A nod that we need to move away from the greedy origins of Wall Street and do away with these corporate types all together. 

Looking at the piece, I wonder: Why did this male artist wait for a female-commissioned piece of a little girl to make his statement? 

A dog, in a degrading act, towards a young girl is appalling, but it also speaks to a bigger issue in movement building. Misogyny, hatred towards women and/or girls, is common in movements because there is still a lack of understanding of intersectionality and how change can be created for the benefit of all, including the lived experiences of all. 

Let’s look at the history of both statues. State Street Corporation (which has a gender lens investing initiative) commissioned the “Fearless Girl” piece in honor of International Women’s Day, though it wasn’t a permanent fixture. There was much uproar around the statue. The Charging Bull’s creator expressed his dismay, as well as many people calling it an advertising ploy or feel good act for companies who exclude women. I was one of the people who saw this artwork as an amazing opportunity to open up the dialogue around the capital that women own as well as the fact that we need more women in financial boardrooms. 

In contrast, the Charging Bull was paid for by the artist and put up after the 1987 stock market crash as a symbol of the people’s strength and power. If that were truly the case, however, if that were truly a value we hold dear, the Fearless Girl would simply be an addition to that—a symbol of women’s strength and power to the investment industry that the bull has come to represent. 

According to a 2017 Catalyst report, women hold just 29 (5.8%) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. A 2015 Morningstar report cited by The World Economic Forum found that women manage less than 2% of mutual fund assets and “nearly two thirds of the top 71 Silicon Valley venture capital funds have no senior female investment professionals, according to the Social & Capital Partnership. I could continue, but the picture is clear: Women are not part of the high level conversations around investments. The investment industry desperately needs women’s strength and power. 

A 2009 study from the Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy tells us that “women will inherit 70% of the money that gets passed down over the next two generations” (excludes the increasing amounts they earn on their own) and women already own more than half of the investable assets in the U.S. Our money is good enough to trade, make more money off, and reinvest, but adding us to the (white male) boy’s club is taking far too long. What’s the problem with “Pissing Pug?” Instead of addressing the real issues with Wall Street, it was easier for this artist to undermine art that is speaking to millions and helping to bring about important changes in a male-dominated industry. Women should not be used as a prop to push an agenda. They should be a critical part of the conversation and be driving the conversation. Like the system or not, we have every right to it and a say in where our money is going and what’s been done with it. 

Many companies and initiatives, such as Pax Ellevate FundEquileapEconomic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) or State Street’s Gender Diversity ETF, are changing the narrative about women, leadership and investing. If we continue to dismiss women leaders or push women aside, which the dog statue undoubtedly does, no true change can occur with how, where, and to whom our money goes.

7 Practices to Focus on Individual Giving

A number of clients and colleagues understand the value of diversifying their revenue models.  Most of these organizations have been primarily dependent on institutional giving models (i.e., recipients of grants) and are starting to explore what success looks like in the individual giving arena.  Results in this arena take time, persistence and insistence on key practices.   Here are my top seven ideas for building sustainable and engaging partnerships with individual donors.   Good luck and let me know which ones are working for you!

  1. Stick to a relationship building rhythm. People give because they are asked to help.  Before inviting someone to invest in your work, one needs to build a relationship.  Telling the story in person over and over in a myriad of ways (one-on-one, small lunches, cocktail parties, etc.) builds rapport and comfort that people trust and want to be part of. Takeaway – Do you tape or rehearse your ‘story’ and adjust it to resonate with different audience?
  2. Explore prospecting opportunities.  All programs have ‘alumni’ who have benefited from the service provided by the organization, some of whom may have given and some who have never been asked.  As well, there is typically a parent (if higher education based), friend or other person connected to the beneficiary who saw the transformation created by your program. Takeaway - How often can you produce lists and share them with the leadership to determine who hasn’t yet been engaged or who they might like to know more about?  
  3. Set goals for meetings and conversations.  What gets measured gets attended to, what gets attended to gets done.  Conversations are always opportunities for the organization to learn about the donor or the prospect’s values and ideals. Takeaway – How much time do you allocate for downloading your meetings so they are put into a database record and/or utilized to determine how best to engage someone in the mission and work?
  4. Create a communications calendar to engage with key people.  Every organization has an ‘inner circle’ of long time donors (3-5 years or more of giving), program alumni, current or former board members, celebrities, planned gift donors, long term serving staff, major donors (at an amount that is relative to the organization).  For every trip, event or mailing, examine if you want to visit or pull this group list for a mailing and personalize in some manner.  Takeaway – Have you set up an inner circle query on your database and how do you uniquely steward this group?
  5. Formalize a ‘posse’ or advisory council.  With organizations that do not have a traditional fundraising Board or need to expand the work of their Board, harnessing the ideas and connections of an advisory board or other group of connected people to expand the reach of the work.  Takeaway – Is there a group of 5-7 people who you reach out to on a quarterly basis to get their ideas on strategies, opportunities and events and people to engage with?  
  6. Encourage leadership to ask for help and advice.  Often, long serving or highly competent CEO/ED’s feel they have arrived or see asking for help as a weakness.  To be successful, a good organization will have leadership that has at least 5-6 ways to invite a donor to offer their time, talent or treasure.  Remember the mantra, “Ask for money and you get advice; ask for advice and you get money.”  Takeaway – How many different ways can you invite input, ideas, connections, and resources?
  7. Conduct ongoing database analysis and research.  The database is the biggest asset of most organizations and the least invested in.  There are tools (donor research database overlays) that can be utilized to assess the giving potential of donors.  Takeaway - Is there a full-time position or allocation of at least 20-30 hours per/week of a staff member’s time who is continually doing queries, pulling lists and conducting analysis of records and the content in the records (not data entry)?


 

Identity: Try and Dismiss It

This rhythmic rant was originally written after the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.  At the time, it felt too raw to publish then, but in light of the Gavin Grimm case, Texas gender inequality bills, Governors and Judges who are homophobic and many other LGBTQIA dismissals and injustices, I no longer have the privilege to stay silent. 

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How can being gay be compared to fear of flying or spiders or crowds?  There is no phobia of gays and lesbians any more – there is only ignorance, self-loathing and fear. 

I am from despair to righteousness swearing quietly to complacent privileged people.  I am from claiming space and truth.  I have marched for rights for women, for access to sport, for our right to choose, for our right to love.  I have given money for and to women leaders, been in the trenches working on behalf of women athletes.  I am from an activist mother who brought forth these skills.   

I am from the particles that make up the bed I lie on as well as every idea and word that collides inside my body and mind.  I am from atoms – free flowing energy and movement.  I am from protons and neutrons. 

My mind lives throughout my body hammering inside my heart, whimpering in my belly and starch drying my womb.  I push and pull the particles depending on the wind, levels of self-compassion and the biochemistry of the day.  A chemstrip is dipped into my chest like a chlorine pool test measuring my systems of hardness, alkalinity, and today, my sugars and testosterone.  I am from lowered estrogen and highly elevated provocative words and acts.

My journey has included a stop or two to reboot my heart and reset my rhythm, flatten my chest, clear ugly growths and tighten up my knee.  All of my particles are moving now – fully alert and radicalized.  I wonder why my protons are so sensitive to violence and hate?  Why do my particles crave tenderness and kindness?  There are others who use the quantum physics of their atoms to hurt, violate and even kill.  Who or what rearranged their innocent baby minds from affluence, love and potential to fear, anger and despair? 

I am from the gay rights movement of the 80’s and 90’s – AIDS and siloed thinking and work.  I am the daughter of Susan.  I chose my own name Tuti at age 5 --- it means we all play together.  Fitting for this intersectional humanist/feminist.  My atoms have been complacent as they hyper focused on healing for a decade.  Now they make up the design of a test strip to mark levels of sexism in a person’s psyche.  The marker on my chem strip is dark red and bloody mad. 

I am the daughter and granddaughter of artists and teachers – why wouldn’t my genes have cell memory of the themes of uprising?  My epigenetic being is so tired of the lack of love and lack of acceptance, tired of bias and bigotry, tired of people’s rush to judge, tired of laws written because people have a ‘phobia’ of who I love, tired of people who hurt and threaten ‘other’. 

I am from dumpsters of kindness and righteous hope standing proudly with dignity.  When they put the chemstrip into my heart to test my levels today, they will find that balance and serenity have silenced any opposition.  I am a spiritual being having a human experience.   My atoms recognize their affinity with atoms in my fellow marginalized beings. I am the belief in attracting strong, powerful allies who will step out of their privilege and speak up for us.  Join me.

Six Steps for Moving Forward

My posse of friends and family have known that I am often slow to identify the source of my sadness or anger as a sensitive Virgo.  Forgive me for coming late to the "grieving the women’s movement party of one.”  Many people were inspired to be at a March on the 21st and, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed being in Boston and seeing generations marching together and young men holding signs in support of women.  Yet, there I was in the sea of people on the Boston Common sobbing while telling my friend Ellen how alone I felt amidst the sea of people.  I was grieving the pinkness of it all, the whiteness of the crowd, the pacifying of women’s voices. I was sad about feeling that we had, yet again, let down black and Latina women.

I have been in the women’s rights movement for four decades, so please accept my apologies if I offend any newcomers who are still in post march glee.  Excuse an elder pin-wearing activist for being tired of how we chose not to honor legacy and marched with a theme of owning our co-opted pussies.  At this time in the evolution of our society I feel we ought to be able to actually use the anatomical word vagina without shame or disdain while also acknowledging that not all of our sisters (especially many elders) see vaginas as a universal term of solidarity.

My shirt said ‘Still All in for Her’ and yet I got nary a thumbs up or nod amongst the thousands of people I walked by the day of the march. Shame on all of us for not recognizing the one leader who has been at the tip of the spear for decades standing up to the misogyny and double standards of sexism and not taking even a moment to salute her historic achievement or even acknowledge her classy, dignified fight or stolen election.  Our technology-obsessed culture keeps us from pausing to learn from or celebrate our history.  If we make our leaders and what they symbolize obsolete, how do we learn?

The March was set up to showcase love and not hate and be about women and inclusion and not DT’s distasteful form and hateful speech.  Yet feminine energy was dressed in pink when clearly we need fluorescent orange.  Pink is soft and complacent and focuses on the idea that our pussy is all that we are.  Orange screams warning – it screams we have a voice and it will be alarming when women’s voices are fully unleashed and unfettered.  The March gave us the chance for one day to collectively shout across the globe.  As we march forward my call to action is to show our outrage beyond emoticons and stretch ourselves to be vulnerable and vocal in person about what we stand for and why.

Tuti and friends readying for the Women's March in Boston

Tuti and friends readying for the Women's March in Boston

We witnessed Hillary Clinton fighting for us all and representing women leaders or aspiring young leaders day in and day out while being treated with double standards and judged as not ‘likable’.  Will someone please tell me when white women are going to stop pissing on women leaders or, better yet, actually have each other’s backs – especially the backs of leaders who are supporting the betterment of all?  If we keep fighting each other, we feed into the white male patriarchy’s strategy.  Why don’t we get as mad at the system that shames our “never perfect” bodies, keeps us from positions of power and/or leadership and dismisses our ideas and voices?  Where is our bright orange outrage?

Hatred, sexism, and racism were here long before Trump came along.  Solidarity doesn’t actually mean community or change.  Divisiveness between color or age is a strategy for mitigating power.  Getting women to criticize or hate other women for stepping into leadership or speaking boldly is part of the strategy to fragment our power.  We must move forward on the assumption that all women care about ALL of ‘us’.  This belief makes it even more critical for women of privilege to yield to the concerns and needs of their fellow feminists and sisters who are in direct harm from changes to key federal level policies.  Seriously, how can we as white women of privilege expect black feminist, trans activists and undocumented people to fight for issues that will help us all when we can’t even acknowledge that the work that they are doing benefits us?

If I could have tea with any of the 53% white female population who voted for Trump, I would have a reality check conversation with them.  I would ask – do you know where your feminine power comes from? Are you able to use your voice and be heard and respected in any environment or venue?  Others have said this very eloquently so my purpose in writing is really to encourage each of us, particularly the first-time activists and women of privilege, to bang on the drum of action.

I feel compelled to remind people that Hillary’s loss can (and should) fire us up to name the sexism and misogyny that we ALL feel, hear or witness daily.  Surely, DT’s action will anger us each day.  However, it is important to remember it took 90 years for women to get the right to vote.  While we enjoyed the energy of the crowds, now more than ever we need to use our voices out loud even if we can’t sing as well as the fierce brave artists of #ICantKeepQuiet.  Here are my suggested six ways to embody and mobilize change as we march forward stronger together.

1.     Remember that sisterhood is for and from all of us.  Stop and google Angela Davis or Audre Lorde or Barbara Jordan, watch thousands of stories about women on Makers, listen and learn.  I follow For Harriet online for a daily onslaught of impressive brilliance and voices of black women.  Review speeches by indigenous, trans, Chicana, etc activists from the various Marches and follow the women who don’t look like you. 

2.     Be publicly visible in your activism.  In 1993, we marched for women’s rights (yup – similar topics, different era) and everyone had pins on their clothing.  At this March I had pins on my hat that I could have sold ten times over – especially the one that said – “Women who desire to be equal to men clearly lack ambition”.  Often we are afraid to gather in smaller groups because we may be confronted with incivility and bullying.  This absence of feeling safe removes an important expression of our power.  Find your allies by wearing your politics on your purse, coat or car.  Now is not the time to cower to power. 

3.     Understand intersectionality and find your personal sweet spot for change.  As a citizen, I will continue to voice my dissatisfaction with the regime of DT with at least one daily outreach to Congress.  My clear focus of my activism and philanthropy is to support women in social justice leadership; people who fiercely and boldly do the long-term systems change work we all need.

4.     Build and learn from our history.  There is a reason that there is a museum for dentistry and still not a government sanctioned one for women.  The reason is spelled p-a-t-r-i-a-r-c-h-y.  We are continually obliterated from history alongside native and people of color and thankfully Rosie Rios  worked hard to get Harriet Tubman on the twenty dollar bill; a small but visible step in our capitalist society.  Molly MacGregor has spent her life curating the National Women’s History Project and the book written by a dear friend and leader in movement building, Greg Jobin Leeds, When we Fight we Win ,are both resources with depth.   

5.     Give women multiple chances to speak their ideas out loud.  Leverage face-to-face interactions when they happen.  We need to practice stating our views with a spoken voice.  We always had two or three questions at gay rights marches in the 90’s to ascertain how safe people were feeling and to identify what was their biggest concern.  Such queries are even more important to do in person rather than on line so women have the opportunity to practice voicing out loud their concerns or fears in community.

6.     Challenge elected leaders and mobilize voting for values.  My colleague Jessica works for a state representative here in the groovy still liberal Massachusetts, home of many revolutions.  She encourages us to dial our elected officials every day and to do sit-ins at their offices.  Emails and petitions are nice but they don’t disrupt the lives of politicians.   Call, sit in, see who is running for re-election  and challenge those with whom you disagree with.  Get engaged in the mid-term elections and let us march again to mobilize votes beyond party politics and rather for people who share and act on our values – sooner rather than later. 

This piece was written in concert with the wise mind of Jessica Avery who honors the privilege of a Mount Holyoke education and shares her feminist brilliance with this baby boomer regularly.  

Now is the Time for Radical Self-Care

Every day I want to expect the best. After finally reaching the other side of cancer and unplanned open-heart surgery with a ‘worry cloud’ of ‘what ifs’ following me for too long, it feels right to reframe my thinking to ‘expect the best damnit’. I have always been an optimist - expecting the best from people and movements, with the belief that love and kindness will prevail. However, I am now facing a new reality. Now we must work for the greater good while simultaneously preparing to respond and fight against those promoting and exhibiting bigotry, greed and dominance at the expense of those less fortunate or visible.

Our humanity and societal achievements must be measured by how far we can lift up individuals who do not have access to the same privileges as us. For the first time in my life however, this perspective is challenged because I cannot trust the motives, courage or moral compass of the majority of our Congress people as well as the President. I always thought the United States had the checks and balances of democracy figured out to ensure this wouldn’t happen. Yes, I’ve been too naive or, perhaps, over confident, thinking that the three branches – Legislative, Judicial and Executive - were enough to check each other. And now, I realize we have missed the most important point – that I and all of us who vote are the most important check and balance of all. These past few weeks have been a scary way to learn this lesson I was taught in fifth grade but didn’t have the experience to fully comprehend. Clearly, we have to ask ourselves; besides voting, what is the power of a citizen?

The day after the Presidential election I recommitted to a daily yoga and/or qi gong practice in the morning. I felt compelled to strengthen my core and prepare for what my gut knew was ahead. For the past two months, I have been preparing my chi or energy source for the reality of January 20. I want to hold onto my mantra of “expect the best”,” but it is ridiculously challenging amidst the dictator-like actions that are occurring by the Republican Congress ahead of the inauguration. I thought we had more time but, alas, the fight is clearly “full on” for the rights of human citizens in the U.S.A. to control our own bodies, receive adequate health care and be treated with respect.

As Republican white men try to dismantle health care from those who need it most, dismantle the protections we have given to women, LBGTQ or individuals of different races, ethnicities and religions, I feel compelled to share loudly about radical self-care. I urge my teammates in the struggle to not only take action but to also recognize that before we can effectively use our connections on social media, march, petition, call our Congresspersons, run or assist others in running for office, we must commit to taking care of ourselves. A thriving democratic society requires bodies and minds that are healthy, alert, engaged and active. In the same way that an athlete pushes themselves with discipline and goal setting to compete at a high level, we need to recognize that the same preparation is required to be successful in attaining and keeping strong a democratic and caring society.

Entangled Roots Press- Ali Cat. Leeds

Entangled Roots Press- Ali Cat. Leeds

 

It is clear that the attitudes, actions and manipulative workings of many elected officials aren’t going to cease any time soon. Therefore, it is critical that as feminists and leaders, we are centered, strong and ready for the long fight ahead. My friend Ellen is an exceptionally talented counselor and coach. She has a sign (pictured above) on her office wall that is a picture of drying herbs and it says “Practice Radical Self Care”. In order to lead others and be “present” for accelerated movement building and more, we have to commit first to nurturing and caring for our beings and spirits so that we can show up fully to lead and join with others. Clearly, today is the day to fully embody the idea that we must practice radical self-care as a strategy for not only social change and movement building, but also for survival.

I have had the curse and blessing of having to deal with fear and anxiety at a very young age. My sister and I often name the benefits of growing up in a household where alcohol and mental illness offered far too many images and experiences for a young mind to digest. We look at the pyscho-social and behavioral skills we acquired and realize that many of them have served us well. Some thoughts about these healing tools that have been crafted and improved over time are shared below.

Feel free to use what works for you as you embody the idea of radical self-care. For those of you who are still “on the sidelines” in shock, I welcome you to get engaged in communal and political action as well as noticing and tending to how your body and soul feels. Nourish it well because we are engaged in a marathon, not a sprint, to keep America’s democracy and compassionate, caring values alive and thriving. As so many of us engaged in service this week as a tribute to the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., consider also doing acts of service for your “Self” as well.

1. Listen more deeply to yourself, the quiet, the music, your family and others who may not look or travel in the same identities as you. Find ways to move away from the onslaught of news to be with your own channel of ideas for community, change, and shared resource building. My TV is currently permanently off and covered in a blanket of peace and om signs to offer a blessing to the talking heads to speak truth to power.

2. “Discharge” frequently in whatever form works. Take a page from Ellen DeGeneres and the daily dance routine she offers. Moving one’s body helps to free the chi and clear the frustration. Writing is amazing and cathartic and if you don’t have an opening line, I often use “Dear beloved, you cannot even imagine what I learned/realized today...”.

3. Nourish your body with good food, warm touch, water, vitamins, herbs and more. For every caffeine charge you imbibe, have two glasses of lemon water. For every sugary carbohydrate you choose to eat, add a fruit or vegetable. Thankfully, melatonin and marijuana are both legal in my state.

4. Manage your energy by paying attention. At the source of radical self-care is a deep knowing of what gives you energy and what depletes your energy. Move with purpose and intention away from people or conversations that drain you and towards environments and activities that build up your spirit and energy. For me, I am lucky to be able to walk the beach where I am always reinvigorated no matter who or what has infiltrated my consciousness.

5. Seek out inspiration from people, books and/or community. Join a group or regularly meet with others who share your values. Embrace a daily walk or simply observe the daily gifts of Mother nature – her clouds, a sunset, and other reminders of grace, ease and majesty. Quotes on my refrigerator are ‘gratitude attitude, ‘practice joy’ and ‘believe in yourself’ as well as my favorite Girls Athletic Leadership School pledge.

6. Maintain a sense of humor. Being able to laugh at one’s self and/or with others is key to maintaining a good life. Now more than ever we need to find the ways to learn, engage, take action AND make it fun. The neurobiology of stress and fear (cortisol levels increasing) is not conducive to our health whereas laughter soothes our brain and more while also releasing mood-lifting endorphins. My friends and I are enjoying our silly Marco Polo video voice mails as soothing humor and ways to cheer one another on in the daily struggle.

I know there are many more ways to take good care of ourselves and keep our minds sharp and our energy high. Feel free to share your tools and strategies with people in your life. My restorative yoga class ended today with a wise teacher Kayla saying “I truly believe that taking care of ourselves makes it much easier for us to take care of others.”

This piece was written as a response to 11 Strategies to Mobilize in a Trump Era as I felt the need to offer overachieving and critical thought leaders and colleagues reminders that self-care will keep us all in the game longer.

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant and coach, has been working in women’s rights, sports and philanthropy her entire life. She is a second wave intersectional feminist and lifelong point guard and will play in any game that has gender equality as a goal.

 

Eleven Strategies to Mobilize for Women’s Rights in a Trump Era

The silver lining from the election of Trump is the increased energy and engagement of women as activists and donors.  In addition, men who respect women and want them to be treated with dignity as full human beings with all of their rights maintained have become more vocal and engaged.   Many women have expressed to me their feelings of being disempowered after the election.  While I completely understand the anger and frustration, these emotions can be physically and psychologically draining.  We can commit ourselves to applying the strength of these emotions toward addressing the challenges of the new reality we face. 

Our next steps are clear, revolving around answering the question:  How can we invest our time, treasure and talent to mobilize the energy for protection of women’s rights long term?  Remember that we are 44 years past Title IX, 43 years past Roe v. Wade, 62 years past Brown v. Education and almost 100 years after winning the right to vote.  All of these laws are now on the table to be eradicated and we need to protect them during this new presidency. 

Women leaders and powerful male allies must recognize the dangers of partisanship, embrace the necessity of forming a cohesive focus around the issues, and include the needs and voices of those on the margins (people who may lose their health care or access to family planning) or who are targets of ignorance (Muslims or LGBTQ).   We are already learning and gathering together on line - Pantsuit Nation, It’s Time Network, United State of Women, World Pulse – via networked organizations that hold the promise of effectively mobilizing women and their ideas and voices here in the US and globally.  We are stronger together and now we must build on our collective strength. 

Funders and leaders have been asking me about potential strategies to direct their resources during this new era.  I am humbled by the question as there are many smart leaders in the social justice arena and one would hope at least 140,000 organizations (10% of the 1.4 million nonprofits in the USA) have a female gender lens.  In the USA, giving specifically to girls and women has remained steady at 5-7% of philanthropy for the past 30 years.  During a holiday season when our country spends more than $400 billion on gifts, it is hard to believe that during the course of the rest of each year individuals give only $270 billion to ALL nonprofit organizations (30% of which is donated in December).  Upholding women’s rights is a matter of both financial resources and human energy.   Share and consider these data points when shopping, giving and investing.

The answer to the above funding strategies question involves an array of strategies that require holistic and long-term investment.  Hopefully, this list offers enough options for individuals to see multiple opportunities to get engaged --actions that suit one’s heart and passion.  Please know I have only listed a few organizations for each approach and they were selected because I know the leadership or have in-depth knowledge of their effectiveness because they have been clients of my company Imagine Philanthropy.  I have given mostly examples of national or international work.  Keep in mind that you may know local organizations doing work along these strategy areas.   If you want further research on any of the items or topics listed, let me know.  My team and I will be happy to delve deeper.    

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1.     Show Up and March.  As of today, there are 29 states having marches on January 21st.  If you are moved to do so, promote the march near you and/or be a part of the masses who show up to support all women and our issues.  Women’s March on America

2.     Underwrite the Next Generation Movement Leaders.  This fight for social change and equality is long and needs diverse voices engaged and supported. CLPP

3.     Keep Female Candidates in the Game.  Hundreds of women ran for office and lost this past November.  They made it through the challenges of running and now have debt with probably no employment.  Consider helping them retire their debt or helping them get on their feet so they are ready to run again. Search for Candidate Campaign Debt

4.     Give Together and in Community.  Women’s funds across the globe fund social change and are in touch with the needs of their community and the key organizations serving women and families.  These funds, giving circles and crowdfunding sites are where we can learn together and will need to be even more deeply resourced to serve the margins of our communities.  Spark- Igniting Global Change; Global Giving; Women’s Funding Network

5.     Encourage Intergenerational Work.  The desire for conversation and connection across generations has never been stronger.  Engage with organizations that do this in their governance and/or work.   We are Ultraviolet; Ignite; Feminist.com

6.     Help Staff Up an Organization.  Provide core support and unrestricted gifts to any organization you admire.  As well, leaders and all staff need encouragement and funding for self-care, coaching and sabbaticals.  Never more than today do we need our best minds and hearts nourished, healthy and supported.  Leadership That Works; Rockland Leadership

7.     Purchase and Invest with a Gender Lens.  Think about the companies you are purchasing from or investing in and whether they have a gender lens or are doing “right” by women.  Buy Up; Equileap

8.     Engage on Policy Issues.  Safety and freedom from violence are concerns for many Americans.  Access to family planning and quality health care is on the minds of many more.  Have your state and Congressional representatives on your favorites list on your phone.  They need to hear from us frequently on issues that policy organizations alert us to.  Equal Rights AdvocatesNational Council of Jewish Women; National Women's Law Center

9.     Build Strong Girls.   Whenever I think of a young girl going through this world filled with hypersexualized media messages, I want to give her as much ‘body confidence’ as I can.  Sports and movement are critical to owning one’s body power Girls Athletic Leadership Schools; Women Win; Women's Sports Foundation; A Mighty Girl

10.  Support Artists.   Art helps us process ideas and pain as well as look at new perspectives to old and new issues.  We especially need more women artists to have a bigger platform today.  Roots to Resistance[JA1] ; WomenArts

11.  Engage with the Media.  Support organizations who are doing quality investigative reporting.  Post comments directly to media outlets about what you want them to cover.  Write your opinions with op/ed columns.  As well, encourage media literacy in our schools so the next generation learns critical thinking and questioning.  Center for Media Literacy; The Nation; Rachel Maddow

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant and coach, has been working in women’s rights, sports and philanthropy her entire life.  She is a second wave intersectional feminist and lifelong point guard and will play in any game that has gender equality as a goal.

Resources for Change

We know that women are key assets in building their communities and creating new pathways to a more just and sustainable world.  Investing to improve the lives of girls and women is a powerful catalyst for positive social change.  When women become economic agents and leaders, social change accelerates and returns multiply. Investing in women is a stabilizing force and actually increases the GDP of a country. Other ways to get involved can be supporting and participating in the large ecosystem of networks and organizations that engage investors, the business community and leaders in philanthropy and social justice.  See the list we have compiled of organizations for youto tap intoto be informed, inspired andto mobilize for change in our world. 

 

Philanthropic Resources

Organizations Working to Increase the Number of Women on Boards and Elected Office

Nonprofits Increasing Female Entrepreneurs’ Access to Venture Capital

Investing Networks and Funds

Impact Investing Resources and Gatherings

 

Consumer and Corporate Activism

Feminist Reading and Resources

Publicly Available Investing Products

  • PAX World Management- Global Women’s Index Fund – Inst’l (PXWIX) Retail (PXWIEX)
  • Glenmede- Women’s Leadership Fund (GWILX)
  • BMO - Bank of Montreal Women in Leadership Fund (BMOWLDN:CN)
  • State Street Global Advisor- Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE)
  • Barclay’s- Women in Leadership ETN (WIL)

 

 

For all the girls who dream big, the 2016 Olympics delivered

Since the passage of Title IX, 44 years ago, the steady climb of success for U.S. women in international sport has risen, with the Rio Games a high mark

By: NOREEN FARRELL AND TUTI SCOTT  08.21.16

Forty-four years ago, the United States passed a law called Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, making it very clear: Every student in this country should have an equal shot to participate in sports and other educational programs that train and foster student athlete leaders. In 1998, Congress updated the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act requiring the governing agencies of each sport (i.e. USA canoe, USA judo, etc) to give athletes a leadership voice on the board and the ability to raise disputes on access and treatment.

Since then, the steady climb of success for U.S. women in international sport has risen, with the 2016 Olympics in Rio hitting a high mark. American Katie Ledecky dominated the pool. Her 11-second (and new world record setting) victory in the 800-meter freestyle was the highlight of four gold medals she won at the games. The American women’s gymnastics team captivated the world with a team gold. Emma Coburn won the USA’s first medal in the women’s steeplechase.  The women’s rowing eight won a gold medal, capping a run of victories in major international competition since 2005. The women’s basketball team took its sixth straight gold medal.  For all the girls who dream big, the 2016 Olympics in Rio has delivered.

Equally compelling at Rio 2016 have been the assumptions toppled about what women Olympic champions look like. Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an Olympic medal in an individual swimming event when she tied with Canadian Penny Oleksiak in the 100m freestyle. Michelle Carter became the first American to win a gold medal in shot put. African-American gymnast Simone Biles became the first American woman to win the Olympic vault individual (her four gold medals include individual all-around.) Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, while helping the U.S. win the team medal in fencing with a bronze in the sabre. And Allyson Felix has become the most decorated U.S. woman in track and field history at Rio 2016, winning nine medals over four Olympic games, including six golds.

Women competing in traditional male sports arenas such as rugby, boxing and wrestling help shift people’s gender assumptions for us all, with a nod to Helen Maroulis securing USA’s first gold medal in women’s wrestling and Clarissa Shields defending her gold medal from London.

And lest you think that Olympic glory is not an option for mothers or reserved only for the young, American cyclist Kristen Armstrong celebrated her third Olympic gold in Rio with her 5-year old son, just one day before her 43rd birthday. Kerri Walsh Jennings, mother of three, played women’s beach volleyball with fierce grit in Rio 2016, as she has for the past three Olympics. Kim Rhode takes home to her 3-year old a Rio 2016 medal in skeet shooting, which makes her the first woman to ever medal in six Olympics. These women joined seven others on the U.S. Women’s Olympic team smashing stereotypes about what women and mothers can accomplish in the most demanding of professions. In this way, the incredible achievements of women at Rio 2016 have made a fitting backdrop for a presidential election featuring the very first woman as a major political party nominee, earning herself a gold medal in “perseverance against sexism” along the way.

A host of organizations, including Equal Rights Advocates and the Women’s Sports Foundation, have fought to make opportunities possible for women and girls for over 40 years. We’ve enforced Title IX and other gender equality laws in the halls of Congress and the courts of law while promoting their spirit in the courts of public opinion. In 1976 only 21 percent of all competitors were women; in 2016, it reached 45 percent with a U.S. contingent of 292 women out of 554 total team members. We all owe deep thanks to Anita de Frantz, Donna de Varona, Billie Jean King, Donna Lopiano and many other early activists in the global women’s sports movement, without whom today’s generation of athletes would not be as well-resourced nor as dominant.

As feminists, we embrace firsts for women with mixed emotions. It does not seem possible that barriers still need to be broken after decades of legal protections in place. But they do. And we are doing it, one athletic match at a time. One presidential race at a time. One glass ceiling at a time.

Rio 2016 has captivated what the woman’s movement has accomplished and all we have yet to achieve. It has highlighted important issues still very much holding back women and girls. From the brave testimony of Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison about her coach’s sexual abuse to the incredible role being played by the United States women’s soccer team to highlight pay discrimination infecting sports and other professions, we know our work is not done. We look to the leadership of sport, still overwhelmingly male — with more than 80 percent of the 204 National Olympic Committees leadership teams being all male — as a reminder that the executive offices need to look different for women to achieve equity at all levels of sport.

As athletes ourselves and long-term advocates for women’s rights more broadly, we thank all of the women who have benefitted from Title IX and the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act who are paying it forward in ways transcending athletics. We close Rio 2016 knowing that Title IX has fostered leaders challenging gender based issues impacting all of us.  May we move ever closer to that level playing field for which so many have worked for so long.  Join the movement today — buy a girl sports equipment as a gift, tell a girl “Yes, she can” and offer encouragement for her boldness in sport activities, and make sure your school or college is compliant with Title IX.

Noreen Farrell is Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates, fighting for women’s equality since 1974.  She is always on the run for gender justice and was captain of her track and field team at Yale University.

Tuti Scott, philanthropy consultant, was co-CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation.  She is a lifelong point guard coaching others for the win and was captain of her basketball team at Ithaca College.

Jennifer Buffett: Concepts Worth Sharing

In 2011, I wrote this piece about Jennifer Buffett and her foundation, NoVo. Five years later, the organization improves women and girls’ lives through a variety of initiatives that support marginalized and oppressed women in girls in indigenous communities and communities of color. A few examples are NoVo’s development of a farm to table program for urban food deserts in New York City, impact in policies that addresses sex trafficking, and organization of spaces where indigenous women take the main seat at the table. Additionally, NoVo recently announced a $90 million dollar investment to expand the academic opportunities of girls, while also ensuring the safety of girls as they go to school. In reflection, this piece demonstrates the actions that organizations and individuals can take to grow and flourish. Because with that, even more individuals can be lifted and flourish.

Jennifer Buffett will change the world. You may not know her now, but when all is said and done I believe she will own the title, The First Lady of Women’s Social Change Philanthropy.  Jennifer is the life size symbol of NoVo – to alter, invent.  The NoVo Foundation she created with her husband Peter is based on the premise that if you give a girl an opportunity, she will become a successful woman who will in turn create successful communities, businesses, and families. Jennifer’s story is just that.

After deep examination of the focus of their philanthropy and a personal examination of her own expression of her values and influence, Jennifer is speaking around the world sharing her personal story and experiences. She and her husband Peter spent years examining the interrelation between systems, culture, and relationships to determine place of impact and opportunity for change before launching the largest foundation serving women and girls, the NoVo Foundation.   Jennifer has incredible perspective to offer activists, social change drivers, and philanthropists and after hearing her recently, I distilled these ten concepts that are worth sharing; 

  1. Look at the roots of the problems, examine patterns and themes and find the programs and the stories that rule the world and which ones make sense. When dealing with our indigenous women and girls’ program, it was imperative to look at the impact that colonialization and government intervention had on the community. Once this history is recognized and processed with the community, take stories and experiences to create create strategies for change.
  2. Acknowledge two conflicting truths:  1. Girls and women are the primary drivers of change.  2. Cultural attitudes and systems put girls in a vicious cycle; blaming them and affirming that they are not valued.   The girl effect demonstrates that if you invest in a girl, her family thrives, she contributes to her community, and eventually her country succeeds.
  3. Invest in places where value is held and not yet recognized.  Note: there are 600 million adolescent girls living in the developing world who are currently ‘undervalued assets’.
  4. Value balance and partnership and affirm feminine values. This is particularly important for our “Promoting Local Living Economies” initiative. Often times, skills women possess are feminized and hold no economic value. Creating value for these skills deconstructs the position of female work and gives women the income they deserve from this work. Additionally, sustainable local economies just ignite larger economic opportunities as capital and products are developed.
  5. Encourage women to use their voice, say what is want and needed, take credit, and invite men to join as equal partners and co-creators. The oppressor must claim responsibility and step back in their positions of power and privilege. NoVo paired with A CALL TO MEN to invite and encourage men to recognize their role in dismantling oppression of women and girls. We called on them to create solutions to problems such as violence against women.
  6. As a woman, choose to be seen and heard and work to change the course of the boat named Earth Community. 
  7. Improve gender dynamics by recognizing that the qualities in the masculine ‘toolbox’ - force, hierarchy, punitive, and a focus on head not heart - are learned, normalized, and internalized. 
  8. Honor and showcase the characteristics found in the feminine toolbox; listening, connectedness, experiential learning, honoring innate cycles and rhythms, and wholeness. 
  9. Establish learning environments that allow for inquiry and participation. Our “Advancing Social and Emotional Learning” initiative draws on the feminized characteristics (empathy, deep connections, etc.) that women often are demeaned for in society and academia. Normalizing these feminized actions in these spaces and applying them to both genders creates a more comprehensive education and stronger communities. Additionally, it breaks down the gendered stigma around behaviors and emotion.
  10. As conduits of feminine energies, allow the most precious qualities of clarity, strength, knowing and vulnerability of yourself to come into full light. 

Seven Habits of Effective Philanthropists

Steven Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, outlines character traits and practices that make people ‘effective or successful’ in business.  By speaking and doing workshops with philanthropists assessing and determining how well we are doing individually and collectively on social issues has made me recognize similar habits of key leaders in philanthropy.  Here is my take on how these show up in leaders in philanthropy;

  1. Proactive – empowers one’s self; eager to seek out and use tools and resources to achieve success

  2. Vision – begins with the end in mind; focuses on values and what gives personal meaning; creates a giving plan with a theory of change and a framework aligned with where they spend their time, talent and treasure

  3. Walks the Talk – sees the value in sharing and learning and speaks up for the issues they fund; utilizes social responsible and gender lens investing tools to insure their investments align with their values and spending focus

  4. Win/Win – loves what they are doing; has an abundance mentality; connects with leaders in the nonprofit arena to learn how to catalyze their giving; willing to realize they don’t know all the answers

  5. Speaks First to Understand – listens, asks questions, explores differences and welcomes inclusive conversations where the words of others are heard and integrated

  6. Synergize with Others – has true faith in the potential and leadership of others; explores work with friends and others to collaborate for success

  7. Self-renewal – believes in self care for themselves and the organizations they fund; has commitment to continuous improvement and learning

Moving Your Ideas Forward

There seem to be unlimited ways to present the concept of ‘negotiation’ or ‘getting to yes’. Are there similar steps we can take when we want to bring an idea forward for department, our project, or ourselves?  The following are concepts that could be helpful as you propose an idea or try to negotiate a new policy or use of a different process at work.  (Note:  These suggestions could also be applied in personal relationships!) 

1.  Separate the people from the problem. This is the most important step – to truly set aside any emotional connection related to people and focus on the issues or item, which needs to be addressed. Focus on discussing each other’s perceptions of the issue, repeatedly stating, “what I see” or “what I hear you saying is…” as a way of helping to bring both parties into the practice of objectivity.  

2.  Focus on the interests and not the position. By understanding the goals, desires, and possible fears of the other person, one can discuss what is in it for them. A good listener will hear what is being said and respond accordingly.  A good negotiator will ask questions to seek deeper understanding.  If you act like you are ‘in their shoes’, it will be easier to discern what their needs are and what they may not be saying. Be open to letting go of your position on the issue so that you can hear what is truly being said from the other person’s point of view. 

3.  Invent options for mutual gain. Presenting a scenario or proposal where both parties can say yes requires both creativity and discipline. By brainstorming, you can identify the possible scenarios acceptable to both parties. Remember to diagnose and clearly define the problem first so you can be specific about the actions to address it.  The more details that are defined about the issue or problem, the easier it will be to create the ideal solution(s). 

4.  Insist on using objective criteria. For true success in a negotiation, there needs to be a measurable outcome- what will happen, by when, and who will do what.  Without such an outcome, the conversation is just talk and not a negotiation of a new idea or practice.  If one focuses on these outcome objectives, then a fair agreement can be reached.  

This article was adapted from the book; Getting to Yes - Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. 

ProFormU and Elaine Rosenblum is another resource for Collaborative Negotiating skills and tools.  

Practices for Advancing a Culture of Philanthropy

1. At each meeting, one leadership member spends up to four minutes sharing their personal story of connection to the work.  The more details of the story and the stronger the person’s connection to women’s rights/ issues of focus, the better.  Feel free to tie into your story the words Advocate, Educate, “Genderosity” or other relevant brand themes.  

2. Consider a meeting dedicated to shaping an advocacy and/or programmatic goal.  The focus is on a defined action (i.e. address FMLA in the county, join a coalition on fair pay, research safety issues and their solutions for women and their families, etc) and developing a ‘case’ for support.  Attach a financial goal to the case statement that includes staff support to administer project and support for the Executive Director.  

3. In each quarter, find at least three forums / outlets (i.e, a newsletter, event, one-on-one appeal to a donor) to start talking about and ‘test’ your case for support/story about a larger vision for the work.  

4. Prepare lists and ideas for introductions to at least 50 potential new TrusteesSpend one third of each meeting discussing five of these names and possible action items that will engage them to ask for their advice in shaping ‘the case’.  

5. Prepare lists of new audiences to solicit for funding and prioritize these based on conversations at the leadership level and in one-on-one meetings with fellow trustees.  Such new audiences to pursue   might include men, federation allocation, project-based giving, people to sponsor young women to be trustees, donations from philanthropic foundations that focus on women and / or identified issue areas.   For each funding source area, set a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.  

6. Utilize time with trustees or prospective donors to ask: What is the most compelling issue for you? What is your legacy?  What impact do you want your giving to have?  Start compiling these answers for use with capacity asks and collateral materials.  

7. Start every conversation with an invitation to be a “partner of our work for life” and explain the need for long term support to affect deep systemic change.  Invite people to share their legacy and consider being a ‘member of a team’ that is serving their legacy and that of other like-minded people.  From the invitation for a legacy gift, encourage a multi-year ask as a first step towards a commitment.  

Powering Up for Women's Philanthropy

The Women Moving Millions Summit theme was “The story of power” and by the end I was fired up and also overwhelmed with the many ideas, facts and speakers all encouraging us to ‘power up!’ I was doing my yoga power pose, staying connected to my power posse at the Summit and beyond via social media, and finding new ways to get comfortable ‘promoting myself and my power’--something that seems to be a struggle for many women and is actually tied to our brain wiring! A fabulous new male member of WMM asked me at dinner one night, what is important about me? For the life of me, I was so fixated on what was important to me (advancing women and girls leadership) that I struggled to answer this question. I know for others and myself in attendance, we are truly #allinforher, the tagline for the new philanthropic tool launched by the host organization Women Moving Millions (WMM). Going ‘all in for her’ encompasses four key areas of one’s philanthropy: give big, give boldly, give with a gender lens, and work collaboratively. When I do my own assessment, here is what I know:

1. Giving boldly. This area needs work for me as I need to come out more about the organizations and leaders I invest in. I also have room to tell more people about my ability to give boldly via the deliberate purchase of a large life insurance policy I made in my healthy 30’s.

2. Giving with a gender lens. This is easy to do. As a lesbian feminist, this is just in my DNA. As someone who has studied successful nonprofits, I will make a conscious effort to publicly share the women leaders and why I invest in them.

3. Working collaboratively. This is a fabulous concept that I witness and promote in my roles as a Board member for Tides and Women Win. I find that in my giving as an individual, I haven’t yet sought out peers who might join me in my ‘invest in the women leader and her NGO’ model.

4. Give ‘big’. I give more than 15-20% of my gross income which is not a million dollars but usually greater than $20,000/year. Perhaps, soon we will have a Women Moving Percentages group. In traditional philanthropy, the giving formula that is typical is 1-3% of income as most large gifts come from assets. My three properties will be a wonderful gift upon my passing – right now the rental income I get allows me to be a ‘big’ giver now.

As the community was invited to step up and go #allinforher, myriad of questions floated around in my head and heart. These questions ranged from the micro to the macro of the women’s philanthropic arena: ‘what is so important about this movement to me? how do I adjust my own inner power relationship for success in the movement? what is the movement’s relevancy to new partners? what does a bold funding partnership look like and what makes it sustainable over time? and who else is a likely or unlikely partner to invest in girls and women?’

All of these questions intersect somewhere with at least one of the topics below that were raised during different sessions by the talented array of speakers. Most of these are not new messages or themes in the philanthropic sector, however, they were either supported by scientific data or delivered in a frame that allowed people to find new ways to easily enter the conversation. See the topic below and the link to the various speeches/presentations that support or go deeper on the topic. I invite you to go #allinforher and examine your own giving experience and visit www.allinher.org to learn more.

1. Powering Ourselves –use tools of meditation (scientifically proven – David Lynch Foundation), laughter (Theatre women)

2. The Youth Voice – relevant now, impact, personal (girl panel)

3. Meet our Allies where they are at – (Michael Kimmel)

4. Be Intentional and Purposeful – take the lead lessons and ideas (Gloria Feldt)

5. Gender Intelligence – brain data, impact on leadership models (Barbara Annsis)

6. Socialization of Genders – gender norms and philanthropy, feminism for all people (Riki Wilchins)

7. Money is Love – (Lynne Twist)

7 Practices to Focus on Individual Giving

A number of clients and colleagues understand the value of diversifying their revenue models. Most of these organizations have been primarily dependent on institutional giving models (i.e., recipients of grants) and are starting to explore what success looks like in the individual giving arena. Results in this arena take time, persistence and insistence on key practices. Here are my top seven ideas for building sustainable and engaging partnerships with individual donors. Good luck and let me know which ones are working for you! 

1. Stick to a relationship building rhythm. People give because they are asked to help. Before inviting someone to invest in your work, one needs to build a relationship. Telling the story in person over and over in a myriad of ways (one-on-one, small lunches, cocktail parties, etc.) builds rapport and comfort that people trust and want to be part of. Takeaway – Do you tape or rehearse your ‘story’ and adjust it to resonate with different audiences? 

2. Explore prospecting opportunities. All programs have ‘alumni’ who have benefited from the service provided by the organization, some of whom may have given and some who have never been asked. As well, there is typically a parent (if higher education based), friend or other person connected to the beneficiary who saw the transformation created by your program. Takeaway - How often can you produce lists and share them with the leadership to determine who hasn’t yet been engaged or who they might like to know more about?

3. Set goals for meetings and conversations. What gets measured gets attended to, what gets attended to gets done. Conversations are always opportunities for the organization to learn about the donor or the prospect’s values and ideals. Takeaway – How much time do you allocate for downloading your meetings so they are put into a database record and/or utilized to determine how best to engage someone in the mission and work? 

4. Create a communications calendar to engage with key people. Every organization has an ‘inner circle’ of long time donors (3-5 years or more of giving), program alumni, current or former board members, celebrities, planned gift donors, long term serving staff, major donors (at an amount that is relative to the organization). For every trip, event or mailing, examine if you want to visit or pull this group list for a mailing and personalize in some manner. Takeaway – Have you set up an inner circle query on your database and how do you uniquely steward this group?

5. Formalize a ‘posse’ or advisory council. With organizations that do not have a traditional fundraising Board or need to expand the work of their Board, harnessing the ideas and connections of an advisory board or other group of connected people to expand the reach of the work. Takeaway – Is there a group of 5-7 people who you reach out to on a quarterly basis to get their ideas on strategies, opportunities and events and people to engage with?

6. Encourage leadership to ask for help and advice. Often, long serving or highly competent CEO/ED’s feel they have arrived or see asking for help as a weakness. To be successful, a good organization will have leadership that has at least 5-6 ways to invite a donor to offer their time, talent or treasure. Remember the mantra, “Ask for money and you get advice; ask for advice and you get money.” Takeaway – How many different ways can you invite input, ideas, connections, and resources?

7. Conduct ongoing database analysis and research. The database is the biggest asset of most organizations and the least invested in. There are tools (donor research database overlays) that can be utilized to assess the giving potential of donors. Takeaway - Is there a full-time position or allocation of at least 20-30 hours per/week of a staff member’s time who is continually doing queries, pulling lists and conducting analysis of records and the content in the records (not data entry)?

Social Change Philanthropy

What is at the core of your giving?  What factors motivate your decision making?  What is it that you would need to be more strategic in your philanthropy?  These are questions that help build a foundation for conversations around personal giving.  Before one can truly understand the impact or focus of any gift, it is helpful to distinguish between the types of organizations the gift supports.  There is a significant difference in the characteristics of “Charity” versus “Social Change” Philanthropy and understanding these differences may make a difference in deciding the type of organization your gift supports:   

Charity Philanthropy                                              Social Change Philanthropy
Short-term fixes                                                          Long-term solutions
Social services                                                              Social change
Reactive                                                                            Proactive
Individual responses                                                 Collective, organized responses
Dependent communities                                        Empowered, independent communities

This distinction is important as it helps people understand and ‘name’ the focus of their giving and whether they wish to address systemic or structural issues of discrimination, access, or equity through changing society or more immediately help those that are the victims of such issues.   No matter what type of work a donor chooses to support, there should be an assessment of the effectiveness of the organization, always seeking to support the human talent and capacity of organizations that make the bold changes happen. 

Women’s funds have been at the forefront of social change philanthropy for decades.  The Women’s Funding Network (WFN) is the largest women’s philanthropic collaborative network in the world and lifts up the work of more than 150 women’s funds.   WFN has been a global champion for the investment in women led solutions to the most critical issues; economic security, access to education and health care, and freedom from violence. Successful programs of WFN focus on leadership capacity, outcome measurement, and philanthropic engagement with the most public of these efforts being the recent Women Moving Millions campaign.  A recent study by the Foundation Center demonstrated that women’s funds have been delivering impact through effective coalition building and a bottom up / top down strategy.  The report also shared the work of women’s funds as leaders in the democratization of philanthropy and as social innovators working across sectors.. 

Now we are on the brink of a sea change as philanthropists begin to focus on investing in women as a solution to resolving or healing key issues in communities and society. Innovative and determined women’s fundshave led such smart investing for the past 30 years and are thrilled to have more folks joining the movement.  We welcome the social change investment to be directed towards women’s funds – a proven model that works.  To learn more about where a women’s fund may be near to your philanthropic focus, please visit the Women's Funding Network.  

Seven Areas an Executive Director or CEO can Focus on for Success

Lately I have been getting calls from people who are starting in a new leadership position as CEO or Executive Director of a social sector organization.  Typically these organizations are called “nonprofits”, but l am purposely reframing this label to “social sector organizations” to better reflect the true bottom line work of social change and community betterment with our communities and people’s lives changing as the ‘profit’.  Many people are coming into this sector from the ‘for profit’ arena and are unsure about what they should focus on to be successful in fundraising.  Here are the tips I have been offering that may be of help for all social sector leaders – new and long serving.  As I put these thoughts together, I realized that these suggestions are relevant for both for profit and social sectors – only the language changes from funds/donors to sales/customers!

  1. Embrace relationship building. This is the crux of good fundraising – getting out of the office and being with people. Listening and asking for input on why they value the work of the organization.
     
  2. Assess your own prosperity work. I strongly believe that people who are out engaging with people to give to a charitable endeavor are more successful when they have addressed their own relationship with money.  Be sure to examine your own class background and your own beliefs about legacy and where and how you give so you can have an honest, transparent conversation with people with all types of resources.
     
  3. Create a top 100 list.  The database is the organization’s biggest asset.  Spend time reviewing lists and asking questions about how queries are done and what groupings have been identified in order to cull the top people so you will be able to focus your stewardship and relationship building efforts. 
     
  4. Answer the questions, “Why you?” and “Why now?”  Your story, especially for new leaders, is critical for donors to hear.  Why did you take the position, what are your ideas for honoring the current work and/or transitioning the organization into its 2.0 or 3.0 version.  Being able to articulate what the urgency of the organization’s work and what will be different with  gifts that range from X to Y is critical.
     
  5. Get testimonials from funders. Invite institutional funders and donors to write a note of support or testimonial to build credibility as a new leader and to build potential support.  Use these with proposals, on the web site or on case statements to demonstrate the breadth of the organization’s support and the reason others associate with the organization.  
     
  6. Build your ‘posse’. Find people who you respect, who you can be honest and transparent with and with whom you can confide for personal support and reactions to your ideas. 
     
  7. Be patient. Know that building your dream team takes time.  Whether it is your Board or your senior management team, it will take time to get the right people and have them click together.    

Movement Building- What Can We Learn from Sports?

Few can deny the success of the women’s sports movement. Since the passage of Title IX in1972, the growth of girls’ and women’s participation in sports has been simply phenomenal. Within this movement are valuable lessons for those of us still working on issues such as reproductive justice, pay equity, legislative leadership, etc. For my wise colleagues working in these areas and others, I encourage you to consider the following metaphors and practices for success.

1. Utilize the entire playbook. Every movement needs a balance of planning and action, passion and reflection, creativity and hard work. Early in the game, women’s sports leaders created the Coalition for Girls and Women in Education with representatives from five or six national organizations to be the think tank and pulse reading organ responsible for developing and implementing strategies and responses. These organizations represented different skill sets. The National Women’s Law Center delivered “legal eagles”; the American Association for University Women delivered academic research; the Women’s Sports Foundation delivered celebrity athletes and Hollywood spokespersons, etc. There is no rule that states you utilize these skills in a linear fashion. Rather, to be game ready and successful, we have to practice and access all of these skills simultaneously with intense persistence and the division of labor makes this easier to do. If we are ready at every position, we are poised to seize every opportunity and able to adjust in the heat of the game to whatever ‘play’ or strategy is needed for victory.

2. Treat funders like teammates. A team is more than players in the field. A successful team is the sum total of the starting line “up, substitutes on the bench, coaches, owners and investors, all working together. The women’s sports movement kept investors informed every step of the way – celebrating victories and asking for more help to confront defeats and win the next round. When you are truly partnered for victory and you collectively have a goal of winning, people are working side by side and sharing their information, power and strengths selflessly. A great team communicates effortlessly and the leadership (coaches, managers, investors, owners) pat each other on the back to acknowledge great plays, creating places for each other to ‘shine’; honoring the individuality that each member brings to the team’s success and engaging with them to bring out their best selves. Being able to do this with all of the partners in the movement will build success faster. Rather than a ‘race’ to be the fastest and most successful organization, it is better to get optimal performance from multiple groups that result in the delivery of a team victory that is more fulfilling and happens sooner because of coordinated group effort.

3. Set goals and celebrate victories. Motivating people by instilling pride in the work and celebrating the small wins along the path is critical for momentum building and staying power. It is statistically impossible to win every game or make every basket. The women’s sports movement can best be described as persistent and consistent effort over time. The season is long (41 years long in the case of Title IX and women’s sports) and keeping everyone focused on the team goals as well as the individual goals will insure a place in the post season. Success is most often the product of individual best efforts coupled with critical team wins over the long term. Keeping every player motivated to consistently put forth their best efforts over the long term is the heart of successful teams.                                                                                                           

4. Headlines are important. Media coverage and spokespeople are key parts of building the brand and energy behind and inside a team. But equally important is the use of compelling, research supported facts. Women’s sports leaders were magnificent in their collection and dissemination of the facts that girls who played sports had better grades, were more likely to graduate from high school and matriculate in college, were at lower risk for breast cancer and other diseases affecting women, were more confident and resilient, etc. The message is that the headlines must be more than ‘the good work’ of organizations; they must be about the impact of such work and what happens to those who benefit from the team’s efforts rather than just the social justice problem being addressed. It’s fine to take advantage of a crisis or story of someone adversely affected, but it must be accompanied by the hope and help offered by the nonprofit organization – how victims or lives of the previously disadvantaged have been changed for the better. The team should not be sidetracked or lose focus on its goals amidst the media hype and attention. Good work must continue in the shadows as well as the spotlight.

5. Trust your teammates. No one player can ever carry a team. Everyone has something to contribute. The more talented players you can involve, the greater the possibility that these players will make a positive impact. Take the time to find out what likely and unlikely teammates can bring to the movement. Play to their strengths and share with transparency the goals of the movement and the playbook of strategies.

How to Get Athlete-Level Confidence at Work

Every time I lead a retreat, questions come up about embodying leadership. “How do I keep feeling confident when no one uses my ideas?” or “What do I need to do to have my presence as a leader felt?” Kathy Kay and Claire Shipman’s book The Confidence Code brought science and depth to the conversation on confidence. And some of the lines they share, many athletes know first-hand: “We have control over our confidence,” they write. “We change our brains and rewire them to be more confident. Confidence is essentially a kind of energy that allows us to move forward wholeheartedly. By taking action, we create confidence.”  ...

10 Tips for Relationship Building

Whether you are running your own nonprofit, building a sports program or starting a new business, here are my suggested “Top Ten Methods for Success”. Please note that these are in no particular order although I personally value 1‐4 in people I work with! Success will come sooner when all are done well and consistently. 

  1. Grow and Engage with Your Contact List – ask your mentors and friends who they know that can help you with your product, plan, or passions. Keep in regular contact with key people and ask how you can help them. People are more apt to assist you later when you have offered aid for their projects/lives. Volunteer to be on committees or to help others. Send out meaningful updates and stories of your work on a quarterly basis. Identify key skills, supports and/or tangible donations you need and ask people who they know that could help you. Think now about who is on your ‘holiday card’ list.                                                                                                                                                                                         

  2. Ask Questions and Follow Through – in every communication, be mindful of how often you share your perspective versus asking what is happening in the supporter’s life and how they feel about what you are doing. Ask for money and get advice; ask for advice and get money. Asking for input and authentically inquiring about a person’s work, home or passions is key to building strong relationships. By listening, listening, and listening to what is said and not said, you can follow through with personalized and meaningful information. If you do this, people will ask you how they can help you. Then you can share with them the resources needed by your organization.                     

  3. Bring Forth a Strong Work Ethic – people invest in leaders who they see are ‘hungry’ and work for success. When they can see your persistence and authentic belief in what you are doing, followed up with personalized notes and/or customized partnership proposals, they are more apt to support you. Impeccable attention to detail with your work and sequential and coordinated engagement (meet with top contributors 2 times / year, e‐mail them monthly, call them quarterly, etc) with key supporters will deliver better results.                              

  4. Believe and Act in Partnership – if you are truly listening and engaged with someone, you will hear what their dreams and desires are. At the same time, they will hear yours. By asking for people to partner with you on your dreams, know that this will be easiest when you genuinely want to build theirs too. Know that this philosophy can be applied to co‐workers, investors, boosters, athletes you coach, etc.   

  5. Utilize Gifts / Sales to Secure More Funds– whenever a gift is secured or asked for, work with the supporter to ask how public they will let you be with their gift. Often their gift will allow you to seek a match or create a challenge for others, thereby doubling or tripling their investment. Always think in terms of a gift rate chart and share this with supporters (i.e. we need 10 gifts at $10,000 or $100,000 to do this project) even if you know the supporter can give you the entire amount. Ideally, you want them to give you the names of nine others who can help and the $100,000. Minimally, get permission to publicize the story of the gift with or without their name attached as people want to give to success.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

  6.  Build a Circle of Leaders and Experts – whether it is a nonprofit Board or Advisory Council to build your league, business or team, a trusted group of advisors from a variety of key fields (finance, legal, digital marketing, communications) will be critical for success. Be sure to give each person a specific request for help or assignment that the volunteer agrees is a way they want to engage. People want a way to use their talents and that also is considerate and efficient use of their time.                                                                                                                        

  7.  Focus Time on the Top 20% most nonprofits are funded with 80% of the money coming from 20% of the donors. Spending time and building trust and rapport with this top 20% should take 80% of your time. Their relationships, interests, businesses, and values will inevitably lead you to their peer group(s) over time.                                                                                                                                                                                             

  8. Build a List of Benefits for Exchange – prior to going into the marketplace for underwriters, compile a list of benefits that your business/nonprofit can offer in exchange for ‘sponsorship’. With a menu of opportunities for partnership, you can then customize a relationship that is meaningful. Never overlook the opportunity to provide something of value that ‘can’t be bought’ (i.e., an autograph item from a sports legend or behind the scenes experience with a leader or coach).                                                                                                                       

  9. Mimic Large Institution Practices to Build Brandanalyze the tools used by colleges and universities and model them where appropriate. Invite leadership (deans, coaches or top thought leaders) to speak at events or hosted parties (in campus settings or esteemed private homes) to engage with key audiences (alumnae lists or people profiled via technology sources on income or affinity) on a relevant topic. Know that all significantly funded organizations have people designated to doing research on prospects and donors and their ability to give and that in order to be mindful of their entire giving focus and life passions, this is absolutely essential.                                   

  10. Build Visibility via Technologyutilize new media to tell your story and make timely updates to your mission and team/product’s contributions to the community and society. Continually review your web site to insure relevant information is present. Think of your web site as your living room and you are inviting your investors to dinner. With this practice, you will have an impressive, elegant and impeccable first response by any web visitor. Master the art of storytelling on your web site and in web communications as an essential element in asking for involvement and gifts. 

Broader Thinking on Family Economic Security

After having the privilege of being part of several meetings with leaders in the field of economic security for families, I learned that this work has many viewpoints and challenges. This summary attempts to capture the breadth of opportunity for broadening the conversation of family economic security. 

Overall, the key components that encompass family economic security (FES) are identified as fulfillment of primary needs such as food and shelter, access to a health care system that serves both one’s self and family, ability to enter and navigate in a variety of markets (financial, employment, social capital) and opportunity for career advancement/education that is relevant to workforce success. 

Generally speaking, family economic security seems to have a qualitative texture for impacted individuals and practitioners working directly with them, and a more quantitative and numerically positioned flavor when policy people define it. Framing the conversation in poverty language versus economics language or referring to families versus systems also may bring forth differing perspectives. 

In a qualitative sense, FES success would be defined by a family staying together (children not placed in foster care), free from violence and addiction, and living with dignity and respect. True success would be a break in the generational transference of low‐income standing. Assessing success could also hinge on an individual’s having social capital and networks that offer varying choices and opportunities for work and learning opportunities. Finally, success could be seeing fewer disparities around income and education when looking across class, gender or race. 

Quantitatively, the metrics rely on index tools that have been developed to look at either what it takes to get and stay in the middle class on a continuum based on five economic factors, or measuring and benchmarking expenses based on a self sufficiency standard in their state (see Wider Opportunities for Women). These measures may or may not be universally acceptable as there seems to be a divide as to whether self sufficiency would be determined with or without public supports. Regardless of how it is measured, there is considerable demand for better government data to analyze. 

Sustained security is founded in the tools of early education and ‘talent development,’ literacy, relevant career training for ‘entry level’ workers, lifelong education around financial decisions and markets, and access to quality jobs that offer standards such as health care, paid sick leave, retirement, etc. Most people working in FES policy and/or programmatic delivery of any of these tools agree that we need to take a holistic approach (versus staying in silos), and that this alone will allow for a faster ‘movement’ towards the self‐sufficiency of low‐income families. 

Addressing the issues surrounding “asset‐based poverty” and debt is critical for FES success. Campaigns focused on predatory lending need to be offset with elevating the visibility of free opportunities for moving towards financial independence that are often provided by community based organizations. Providing practical learning experiences focused on financial decision‐making is happening in various Community Development Financial Institutions. Identifying, and elevating the role of entrepreneurs is also important as people often need ’to see it to be it.’