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.