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Many Generations of Women-Led Change

30 years on, the values that seeded our movement—shared learning, collective action, a common vision—continue to be the values at the heart of our Network.

Make a gift. Join the movement.

Thirty years ago, the women’s funding movement was a gathering of about 20 leaders who were convinced that philanthropy and social change needed to more fully recognize and include women’s voices. Today, Women’s Funding Network is a growing community of more than 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning 20 countries.


Early Days
  • In 1984, women from several funds discussed the creation of an organization of women’s funds at a joint meeting of National Black United Fund and National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.
  • In 1985, 20 funds gathered for the first conference of women’s funds in Washington, D.C. First grants are received to support the conference.
  • Our first major grant (from the Ford Foundation) supported the network’s startup, creation of a clearinghouse of materials about women’s funds, and training/technical assistance for women’s funds.
  • In the late 1980s, attendance at our annual conference approached 100. A long-range plan was created for the organization. We marketed the “Working Assets Women’s Credit Card,” published the Women’s Funds Handbook, and more.
  • In 1990, we became an independent organization and filed for 501(c)3 status. We also launched a special project on violence against women, including a survey of funding by women’s funds.
The Growing Movement
  • In the early 1990s, we became an affinity group of the Council on Foundations, held our first board elections, and produced special reports on violence against women.
  • We broadened our conference to include girls as presenters and participants, launched the first, full-day Women of Color Institute, and created the “Changing the Face of Philanthropy” Award.
  • Our collective global work grew, and we participated in the NGO Forum on Women and the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. We also helped organize a meeting of women’s funds representatives and other foundation leaders with Hilary Clinton.
  • By 2000, the Network included 94 member funds and foundations, with over $200 million in collective working assets and $30 million in annual grantmaking. Our 2001 conference attracted over 300 people, and in 2003 we received a $5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to grow the Network even more.
  • We launched Making the Case: A Learning & Measurement Tool for Social Change, which continues to be a member favorite.
  • We administered the New Women and Wealth Philanthropy Project, which brought over 300 new donors into women’s philanthropy and raised $21 million.
  • We launched, an online database of women who are distinguished experts in their field and experienced spokespeople, to increase the inclusion of women in interviews, speaking engagements, and other media opportunities. This was a partnership with Fenton Communications and The White House Project.
  • The Network launched U.S. Women Without Borders campaign to reach, educate, and motivate U.S. women to action on gender equality globally. The online community grew from 1,300 to 30,000 in one year.
  • In 2006, longtime donors Swanee Hunt and Helen LaKelly Hunt made a contribution to initiate a campaign to raise gifts of $1 million or more for women’s funds. This would become Women Moving Millions. By the end of 2007, the campaign raised half of its $150 million goal. By the end of 2009, the total raised was $182 million.
Recent Work
  • Today, Women’s Funding Network is a growing community of over 100 women’s funds and foundations spanning 30 countries.
  • We partnered with women’s funds and foundations across the United States as part of a national campaign to research, prevent and end domestic minor sex trafficking.
  • The Network helped create Engage 2012, a national summit of people of color policy experts, practitioners, thought leaders, and key stakeholders working together with an eye toward the 2012 election cycle.
  • In partnership with member funds, we created the first national Girls Grantmaking Conference in 2012. In 2014, we launched the Girls Grantmaking Toolkit, which helps other funds and foundations start their own girls-as-grantmakers programs.
  • In 2013, we launched Women & the New Economy, a series of three regional convenings across the United States. More than 150 members and external partners joined us over the course of the year.
  • We continue to engage in key events to lift up the voices of women-led change. In 2013, our then President & CEO Michele Ozumba represented the Network at the Emerging Market Symposium at Oxford, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity Annual Conference, Spelman College Women of Color Leadership Conference, and Women Deliver. We also participated in CGI America as a champion for women and girls.

Because of leaders like you, the women’s funding movement is thriving. Will you join us in creating the future of women-led change? Make a gift or become a member today.