The Feminization of Philanthropy
According to information from Atlanta's Spelman College, the most recently published IRS Personal Wealth Table shows that women now control more than 43 percent of the nation's wealth. And the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy reports that women will inherit 70 percent of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth over the next 40 years.
In April, a panel of experts gathered at Spelman to address how women are leveraging this economic power to redefine philanthropy in the 21st century. "Funding the Future: How Women are Shaping Philanthropy" honed in on how women are changing philan thropy as heads of foundations, individual donors and major supporters of a variety of institutions and projects.
Among the speakers were Yvette Burton, CEO of the Arcus Foundation; Donna Hall, president and CEO of the Women Donors Network; Natalia Kanem, founding president of The ELMA Philanthropies; Vivien Labaton, director of strategic program initiatives at Atlantic Philanthropies; Gabriella Morris, president of The Prudential Foundation; and Alicia Philipp, president of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.
Dr. Alison Bernstein, former vice president of the Ford Foundation's Knowledge, Creativity and Freedom Program, led the panel. Here, she discusses some of the implications of this shift in the nature of philanthropy in the U.S.
FundRaising Success: Tell us about women's changing roles in the philanthropic sector.
Alison Bernstein: There are three strains that are important to acknowledge. The obvious one is women of wealth and their desire to control a bit more of the outcomes of their giving. That includes individual donors and also groups of donors.
[Then] you have to consider grantmaking by philanthropies that take women's issues as a core responsibility.
Lastly, there are organizations whose business is very, very large but have a serious intent to develop initiatives that focus on women.