A Fundraising Day Devoted to Women and Girls is Necessary but Just the Beginning – Inside Philanthropy

On October 11, 2022, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) and its anchor partners — including WFN — launched the inaugural Give to Women and Girls Day, a national awareness campaign to increase funding for women’s and girls’ organizations.

Issues affecting women and girls have received greater attention in recent years, but charitable giving to U.S.-based organizations dedicated to women and girls remains low. A new report by WPI shows that, in the U.S., philanthropic investment in women and girls remains stagnant at only 92 cents per female per week — or less than 2% of all philanthropic support. 

Doing more is not only sensible, it’s achievable, and it’s achievable now.

In a new opinion piece on Inside Philanthropy, WPI’s director, Jeannie Infante Sager and WFN’s president and CEO, Elizabeth Barajas-Román, have come together to discuss why it is so essential for philanthropy to address this issue and what’s coming next.

Full article follows below.

The data is clear: Our communities are recovering on the backs of women and girls, particularly on the backs of women and girls of color. Yet, according to The Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s new report, less than 2% of total charitable giving was directed to organizations that serve women and girls in 2019 — that’s only allotting 92 cents per female in the U.S. per week. Only one-half of 1% of foundation dollars were directed to organizations focused on women and girls of color in 2017, according to another study by the Ms. Foundation, working out to less than 11 cents per week for each woman or girl of color in the United States.

During a time when women, girls and nonbinary people have risen to the historic challenges of a caregiving crisis, pandemic, and economic downturn, philanthropy can and must meet their efforts with commensurate funding. 

That’s why on October 11th, the International Day of the Girl, we launched a brand new and necessary campaign: Give to Women and Girls Day. Through the leadership of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, the Women’s Funding Network is honored to be one of the partners to create this new day of giving, along with the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday, the Ms. Foundation, Philanos, Philanthropy Together, Pivotal Ventures, Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Vital Voices, and Women Moving Millions.

We’re inspired and energized by the nearly 50,000 organizations that are dedicated to women and girls across the United States, and even more around the world. These organizations are doing vital work for women and girls from infancy to elderhood, covering a range of needs: prenatal care, education, reproductive justice, access to youth sports, safe and affordable housing, gender-based violence, healthcare, breast cancer research, and so many other critical areas. For example: 

  • The Maine Women’s Fund helped support the creation of the new Center for Wabanaki Healing & Recovery, which centers culture, ceremony, language and traditions for local Indigenous women. 
  • After identifying the lack of affordable child care as the top roadblock for area women who want to return to work, the Iowa Women’s Foundation launched a program that’s created over 3,500 new child care openings. 
  • California’s Vitamin Angels helps pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five gain access to life-changing micronutrients. 
  • The Women’s Foundation for the State of Arizona successfully lobbied to change state law so low-income moms were able for the first time to access federally funded child care vouchers for working or attending school or vocational training. 

And that is just a sampling — across every corner of the U.S. — of incredible, yet underfunded organizations doing Herculean work, stretching every dollar to best support women, girls and nonbinary people.

That’s why we created the Give to Women and Girls Day, and why we are calling on the entire philanthropic community to increase their efforts to move beyond that 2% to 10%. That would mean going from 92 cents per woman and girl every week to $4.88 — about the same cost as a gallon of milk. Increasing the allocation of giving to organizations that help women and girls thrive is both sensible and achievable.

There’s still time to create the world we want to leave for future generations. Philanthropy should meet the moment on this Give to Women and Girls Day — and every day.

Jeannie Infante Sager is the Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Elizabeth Barajas-Román is the President & CEO of the Women’s Funding Network.

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