We Can Do Better Than 1.6%

Dear Colleagues,

This week philanthropist MacKenzie Scott made headlines for donating over $4.2 billion in the last four months to more than 300 organizations — including historically Black colleges, emergency relief funds, food banks, and two of WFN’s founding partners: Ms. Foundation for Women and Global Fund for Women. 
We are thrilled that Scott recognized the leadership of President and CEO of Ms. Foundation and new WFN board member, Teresa Younger, and President and CEO of Global Fund, Latanya Mapp Frett. Women and girls around the world will be better off with these new resources in the hands of these visionary and impactful organizations. Congratulations to Younger and Mapp Frett and their teams, and to Scott for setting an example for the world’s leading philanthropists.
But we urge Scott and her team not to stop there. Women’s funds and gender equity funders are social change innovators who work locally, but who also work together for 10x impact on the world’s most challenging issues. However, despite decades of proven leadership and demonstrable results, the sector remains chronically underfunded. 
Just last week, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute released, “The Women & Girls Index (WGI) 2020: Measuring Giving to Women’s and Girls’ Causes,” a report finding that only 1.6 percent of overall charitable giving goes to women and girls-focused groups — even though these groups represent 3.4 percent of all charitable organizations in the U.S. Further, the amount of total giving for women and girls, $7.1 billion, is barely half of the amount given to the next smallest area of giving, at $12 billion for animals and the environment. 
What is glaringly obvious, especially amid 2020’s pandemic, economic and looming potential housing crises that have disproportionately affected women and particularly women of color, as Women’s Philanthropy Institute Director Jeannie Sager points out, is that women’s and girls’ causes — particularly those addressing the intersection of race, gender and other areas of inequality — will need more resources. And having the empirical data to back this up provides an opportunity as well, in part by providing insights that can kick-start the kinds of discussion and action necessary to fill the significant funding gaps and generate greater philanthropic support for these critical organizations.
We celebrate Scott’s generosity and recognition of two of our powerful sister organizations. We hope it is just the beginning of an overdue sector-wide investment. Until then, WFN will continue to make the case for donors of all levels to prioritize women’s funds and foundations in every region and community. We got us.  
Yours for equity and justice, 

Elizabeth Signature

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network 
President & CEO

Letters from Elizabeth