Connect With Us

81 posts categorized "Women & Girls"

Weekend Link Roundup (April 12-13, 2014)

April 13, 2014

Illustration_cherry_treeOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civil Society

Writing in The Week, journalist Matt Bruenig takes a closer look at the one part of the charity versus social welfare argument that everyone ignores.

On the Hewlett Foundation's Work in Progress blog, Daniel Stid considers the implications of the Supreme Court's recent decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission for the foundation's developing plans for grantmaking in the democracy area.


"Big Data is suddenly everywhere," write New York University professors Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis in the New York Times. "But precisely because of its newfound popularity and growing use, we need to be levelheaded about what [it] can — and can't — do." Before we embrace big data as the answer to all our problems, they add, keep in mind that big data:

  • is very good at detecting correlations but never tells us which correlations are meaningful;
  • often works well as an adjunct to scientific inquiry but rarely succeeds as a wholesale replacement;
  • can be gamed;
  • often generates results that are less robust under further scrutiny than initially thought;
  • is subject to what might be called the "echo-chamber effect";
  • can amplify errors of correlation;
  • is prone to giving scientific-sounding solutions to hopelessly imprecise questions; and
  • excels when applied to things that are common but often falls short when applied to things that are less common.


As part of Goldman Sachs' Focus On series, Mark Tercek, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy, makes the business case for investing in nature (video; running time: 3:08).

Ever since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the the summary of its new report on climate impacts a few weeks ago, the word "transform" has been flying around in climate circles, writes Megan Rowling on the Thomson Reuters Foundation site. And if you listen closely to those conversations, adds Rowling, "the message is clear: the world has not yet changed radically enough to prevent dangerous levels of global warming, nor even to protect itself from the more extreme weather, gradual climate shifts and sea-level rise that are already hitting us. Instead we"ve been fiddling with adaptation while the planet burns."


Using the results of the Nonprofit Finance Fund's sixth annual State of the Nonprofit Sector survey, Nell Edgington looks at the financial sustainability crisis in the nonprofit sector and argues that it stems "in large part from a lack of understanding among funders of the true costs of social change work."


A nice new infographic from the Corporation for National and Community Service shows that volunteering continues to be an important part of the American identity.

Harold Simon, executive director, and Miriam Axel-Lute, associate director/editor ofShelterforce, the journal of affordable housing and community building, chat with Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, about the "important institutional conversations" taking place at Ford about how the foundation does its work and the extent to which it is "prepared to be disruptive in [its] own internal structures and practice to actually work in a way that reinforces the way work actually happens on the ground."

Ruminating on a recent article by Demos senior fellow Michael Edwards that examined the role of money in social change work, NPQ's Rick Cohen shares a not altogether flattering assessment of NGOs and their funders. "Admirable for his social justice ideals, Edwards' ideas go against the flow of today's NGOs and funders," writes Cohen.

Despite their rhetoric of social justice, they are devoted to business principles embedded in a structure of 'social enterprise.' Funders are increasingly top-down despite their language of bottom-up, increasingly refusing unsolicited proposals, and increasingly functioning like operating rather than grantmaking foundations. The experiments promoted by the nation's top foundations, like social impact bonds, increasingly aim to generate wealth for private investors (such as Goldman Sachs) at the expense of resources generated and paid by government. The idea of shared decision-making may be espoused by some grantmakers, but it is an anomaly in foundation practice, especially among those new foundations whose tiny boards of family members reflect the lack of democracy in modern philanthropy....


And on the Glasspockets blog, Yinebon Iniya, manager of international data relations at the Foundation Center, reports on a recent roundtable discussion organized by Data 2X, a partnership between the United Nations Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that aims "to advance gender equality and women's empowerment and further global economic and social gains through improved data collection and analysis...."

That's it for now. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at or via the comments box below....

Women on the Front Lines of ACA Implementation

March 24, 2014

(Ellen Liu serves as director of women's health at the Ms. Foundation for Women.)

Headshot_ellen_liuWomen have a lot to celebrate this month. March is Women's History Month, and March 23 marks the fourth anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Over the past five years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has been funding outreach and advocacy efforts to ensure that women and women's health services are a central part of implementation of the ACA.

With nearly one in five women uninsured nationwide, the need for targeted outreach to women is undeniable. Low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women are uninsured at substantially higher rates than the national average for all women.

Our work on the ACA has focused on ensuring that all women have access to preventive care, treatment, and services. We know that access to health care improves the well-being of women, resulting in greater financial stability, peace of mind, and lower rates of depression.

Given the proven benefits of health insurance, it has been especially important for the Ms. Foundation to address health equity and to support those who have the least access to affordable quality care. Through our Women 4 Health Care program, we have focused on the intersection of gender, race, and class, both by funding advocacy for inclusive, comprehensive health coverage and by targeting outreach to underserved women.

In the process, we have learned some valuable lessons about successful advocacy and outreach strategies. First, we have learned that we must engage at multiple levels to ensure that women are not left out. Our grantee partners have been active on various levels, serving on governance and administrative committees for their state exchanges; monitoring legislation that pertains to women's health; providing technical assistance to state exchanges to ensure they prioritize women, as well as strategizing about how best to reach women through outreach campaigns; and leading community efforts to link women and families to resources that can help them through the enrollment process.

Continue reading »

Newsmakers: Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation

December 18, 2013

Headshot_darren_walkerIn September, Darren Walker became the tenth president of the Ford Foundation. Before coming to Ford, where he was vice president of the foundation's Education, Creativity, and Freedom of Expression program, Walker served as vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation and as chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, where he guided the organization's efforts to develop housing for low and moderate-income families in Harlem.

Recently, Michael Seltzer, a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic, spoke with Walker about the current social change environment, the influence of the foundation's activities on his life, and his hopes for the foundation going forward. Seltzer is a distinguished lecturer at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and an affiliated faculty member of its Center for Nonprofit Strategy & Management.

Philanthropy News Digest: What is it like to be president of the Ford Foundation?

Darren Walker: Although I've been at the foundation for more than three years, in many ways I still have a lot to learn. I certainly didn't arrive here with any idea I would end up as president. When I walked through the doors of this institution for the first time, it was a transformational experience, because the Ford Foundation represents the ways in which my own life has been changed by philanthropy.

I'm a graduate of public schools. I attended public school in a small town in Texas, and I am also a graduate of the first Head Start cohort, a program that was developed out of Ford Foundation-supported research on early child development at Yale University. After high school, I attended a large land grant university -- thanks to Pell grants, another Ford Foundation-supported intervention -- so I know all about Ford's commitment to public education in this country.

After college, I worked on Wall Street and one day found myself at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, which was hosting a representative of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a creation of -- you guessed it -- the Ford Foundation. LISC had awarded a grant to the Abyssinian Development Corporation for capacity-building initiatives that would allow it to realize the aspirations of the organization's founders, who had a dream in the mid-'80s that Harlem could be a community that could regenerate itself from within. And the Ford Foundation, through LISC, believed in that dream and invested in it. And that capacity-building grant made it possible for ADC to hire me. So my journey, like the journeys of so many others, has been deeply influenced by the Ford Foundation.

I was thrilled to receive a call from the foundation's board chair, Irene Hirano-Inouye, and have her tell me that the board had voted to appoint me president. Actually, I wasn't sure how to respond, beyond saying, "Yes!" because I know that with this job comes huge responsibility, and that I stand on the shoulders of some extraordinary people.

Continue reading »

Valley Boys

November 08, 2013

(Andrew Grabois is manager of corporate philanthropy at the Foundation Center. In his last post, he wrote about the addition of corporate sustainability data to Foundation Directory Online.)

Women_on_tech_boardsMuch has been written about Twitter's IPO -- including analyses of the social media company's revenues, profits, share price, and even the stylistic turns of its S-1 prospectus. What you don't see, however, are articles or blog posts lamenting the complete absence of corporate philanthropy at the company. After all, Twitter, as the company's execs write in its prospectus summary, has "democratized content creation and distribution, enabling any voice to echo around the world instantly and unfiltered." With such an empowering, public-spirited mission, why should Twitter -- or any Silicon Valley high-flyer, for that matter -- concern itself with charitable giving or other aspects of corporate social responsibility?

The answer is that Twitter will never truly "democratize content creation and distribution" until it practices what it preaches. In that respect, it has a ways to go. For instance, more than a few people have noticed that Twitter doesn't have any women on its board of directors. And it's not alone. A well-traveled infographic created by Jim Cooke of Gawker shows that Twitter is one of four tech companies without a single female on the board -- and the other dozen companies included in the infographic scarcely do better. Taken together, the companies on Gawker's list averaged slightly more than one out of ten (13 percent) women on their boards, with those sitting at least one woman averaging closer to two out of ten (17 percent). Abysmally low, to be sure, but only marginally lower than the 14 percent reported by GMI Ratings in 2013 for S&P 1500 public companies and the 17 percent for Fortune 500 companies in 2012 as reported by Catalyst.

Continue reading »

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (September 2013)

October 01, 2013

It's the first day of of a new month, which means it's time to look back at the most popular posts on PhilanTopic during the month just passed. And the winners are:

What did you read/watch/listen to in September that PhilanTopic readers should know about? Share your favorites in the comments section....

Philanthropy and the Millennium Development Goals

September 27, 2013

(Bradford K. Smith is president of the Foundation Center.)

Headshot_brad-smith2New York has been abuzz this week with the reconvening of the United Nations General Assembly and the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, and in the streets, cafes and restaurants you can hear people from all over the world taking about "the MDGs." Those who circulate in the acronym-laden universe of international development know that "MDGs" are the Millennium Development Goals -- the ambitious blueprint developed by the United Nations in the year 2000 to make serious progress on the pressing challenges of global poverty, health, education, and environment.

By one measure, "MDGs" is hardly a buzz phrase among America's philanthropic foundations. I just did a quick keyword search of three years' worth of 990-PF tax returns for close to 90,000 foundations and found just seven in which the term "millennium development goals" appeared. Then I tried an "only foundations" Google search on Glasspockets and got 3.65 million results!

But what people usually want to know about foundations is how much money they have spent on a cause or issue. It says a lot that only once in the years since the Millennium Development Goals were established has the Foundation Center been asked to map foundation funding to the eight goals. So this being a week where the MDGs are being discussed everywhere, we decided to pull some very quick data for 2011.

Goal Amount No. of Grants No. of Fdns.
Eradicate extreme poverty $770,761,183 1,663 318
Achieve universal primary ed 42,756,909 294 80
Promote gender equality 223,768,315 312 56
Reduce child mortality 456,276,756 337 54
Improve maternal health 211,008,135 215 38
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, other diseases 1,572,823,543 426 48
Ensure environmental sustainability 534,927,086 1,747 224
Develop partnership for global dev 278,124,929 363 109


Continue reading »

Ants in the Kitchen: The Role of Data in Human Rights Funding

June 25, 2013

(Caitlin Stanton is the Director of Learning & Partnerships at the Urgent Action Fund for Women's Human Rights. A version of this post appears on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog.)

Headshot_caitlin_stantonA professor at Vanderbilt University, Brooke Ackerly, once told me, "Numbers matter. If someone tells you there are ants in your kitchen, you'll want to know whether there are two ants in your kitchen or whether there are TWO MILLION ANTS IN YOUR KITCHEN." And if there are anywhere near two million ants in your kitchen, then your neighbors will also want to know about it. Transparently sharing quantitative data helps us understand the scope of a problem and decide how to gauge the scale of our response, while allowing others to learn from our efforts.

In Advancing Human Rights: The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking, the Foundation Center and the International Human Rights Funder's Group collect, analyze, and publicly share quantitative data that tell us about the scale of our response to human rights violations. The report finds that foundation grantmaking to address these issues occurs on a global scale and is a widespread practice, with 703 foundations giving a total of $1.2 billion in grants for human rights causes in 2010.

For many of us in the field of human rights grantmaking, and particularly for those of us within foundations working to advance the rights of women and girls, the startlingly low amount of funding going to address the issue of freedom from violence stands out as an important finding from the report.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (May 4-5, 2013)

May 05, 2013

Derby-winner-orbWhat a gorgeous weekend! Hope yours, wherever you are, was half as nice. Here, a little late, is our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


The Catalytic Network, an interesting new initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, aims to share tools and stories which emerge from the foundation's work with innovators around the globe. In that spirit, Michael Myers, a senior policy officer at the foundation, lays out the 5 Golden Rules of a Great Pitch on the network's site to help nonprofits better tell their story.

The five rules are:

  • Keep it under two minutes.
  • Know your audience, and know the ask.
  • Talk about the problem you are solving -- in one sentence.
  • Give two reasons why your approach is unique.
  • Leave them one memorable, repeatable story.


On the Harvard Business Review blog network, Mark Bonchek, "chief catalyst" at Orbit & Co, argues that without Little Data -- "what we know about ourselves. What we buy. Who we know. Where we go. How we spend our time" -- Big Data "has a tendency to become Big Brother," and that without Big Data, Little Data "is incomplete."

Continue reading »

The Social Progress Index: Measuring What Counts?

April 30, 2013

Report-cover_SocialProgressIndexThe Washington, D.C.-based Social Progress Imperative made a splash at the Skoll World Forum earlier this month when it launched its Social Progress Index (SPI), an ambitious effort to inform and influence development policies around the globe.

Developed by Harvard Business School professor and competitiveness expert Michael E. Porter in collaboration with Scott Stern of MIT, the index is founded on the principle that "what we measure guides the choices we make." To that end, the index analyzes fifty-two outcome-based (as opposed to input-based) indicators in three dimensions of social progress: meeting basic human needs; establishing the foundations of well-being that enable individuals to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives; and creating opportunity for all to reach their full potential. (For a complete breakdown of indicators, click here.)

While the index and the report (154 pages, PDF) released in conjunction with the launch of the index includes only fifty countries, those countries represent three-quarters of the world's population. Here's a chart from the report that plots their aggregate SPI scores against GDP per capita (PPP):

Continue reading »

More to Do: A 'Flip' Chat With Anika Rahman, President/CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women

March 27, 2013

While the topics du jour in the women's movement seem to be Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In and New York magazine's take on "feminist housewives," there are deeper, more persistent problems in need of attention, from access to health and child care, to low wages and a shortage of quality jobs, to continued assaults on women's reproductive rights and services.

Indeed, as the Ms. Foundation for Women says on its Web site, "It's true that women have come a long way since the 1970s, but for every woman who has reached the 'top' (and who still face discrimination, by the way), there are millions of women struggling to earn a living wage, gain access to basic health care, secure affordable child care, and participate in the opportunities that should be available to every person in the U.S."

On a rainy day earlier this month, I spoke with Anika Rahman, the organization's president and CEO, about the many inequities confronting women, especially low-income women and women of color, as well as the organization's new report, More to Do: The Road to Equality for Women in the United States (58 pages, PDF).

Continue reading »

Networked Activism: Women's Causes Online

March 25, 2013

(Regina Mahone is a staff writer at PND. In her last post, she shared some takeaways from a new report that looks at homeownership and the racial wealth gap.)

Women-circleEarlier this month, I attended a Philanthropy 3.0 event hosted by the George H. Heyman, Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at New York University featuring Allison Fine, co-author of the Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change and host of the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Social Good podcast series; Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good; Nancy Schwartzman, director of the award-winning film The Line and founder of The Line Campaign, a movement committed to empowering young leaders to create a world without sexual violence; and Vanessa Valenti, co-founder of the blog Feministing and a partner in the consulting firm Valenti Martin Media. Moderated by Tom Watson, president and founder of consulting firm CauseWired, the event covered a range of topics, including the sustainability of online activism in support of women's causes.

As Valenti noted, online activism in support of women's causes has been around for years, but it's tended to be reactive and not pursued with a long-term strategy in mind. Her consulting firm was created to assist activists in developing infrastructure to support their online efforts.

In contrast, the Mom Bloggers network has always had the infrastructure needed to carry out and promote its work. As James pointed out, however, the network hasn't always focused its efforts on social change. To help women engage with nonprofits the way they do with everyday brands, James launched Mom Bloggers for Social Good, which today boasts more than a thousand mothers in thirty-three countries working to spread "the good news about the amazing work nonprofit organizations and NGOs are doing around the world."

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (March 23-24, 2013)

March 24, 2013

Basketball_wilsonOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Black Male Achievement

On the GuideStar blog, Zeina Fayyaz, manager of the Social Innovation Forum and Social Innovation Accelerator at Root Cause, announces a call for applications to the 2013-14 Black Male Achievement Social Innovation Accelerator. Modeled after the Social Innovation Forum, the accelerator program will provide, over twelve months, capacity-building and coaching support totaling more than $150,000 to five BMA Innovators, along with opportunities to network with funders and the chance to become a national leader in the field of black male achievement.

Higher Education

Is student debt the new subprime? Writing on the Demos blog, Thomas Hedges thinks it may be. "Education itself, which many considered a right thirty years ago, has become a market product," writes Hedges. "University presidents are, in the end, fundraisers, soliciting large donations and encouraging students to take out loans that will take decades to pay back. The costs of tuition, which are cleverly obscured for low-income students, slam students years after they graduate, once they realize what paying off, say, $30,000 in student debt means." As one 30-year-old woman with $120,000 in student loans tells Hedges: "The grim truth is that universities and student loans are no longer creating the American dream, they are destroying it, one wide-eyed dreamer at a time.”


On the Arabella Advisors blog, Cynthia Muller, director of the firm's impact investing practice, is encouraged by signs that the strategy is gaining traction.

Continue reading »

Leveraging Momentum in the Movement to End Violence Against Girls and Women

March 14, 2013

(Jennifer Buffett is the president and co-chair of the NoVo Foundation, an organization that seeks to empower girls and women worldwide and to end the violence and exploitation against them. )

Headshot_jennifer_buffettWhen girls are empowered, they can transform communities and the world. But for too many girls, domestic and sexual violence stands in their way.

Countless advocates have worked tirelessly for decades to end violence against girls and women. Thanks to their work, we have made progress: Attitudes have shifted. Resources have been allocated. Systems have started to change. And yet, rates of violence remain staggeringly high -- violence that makes the headlines, like the gang rapes in India and Steubenville, Ohio, as well as everyday rapes and beatings that are so commonplace in our culture they are not even considered news.

What will it take to create lasting change -- to create a world where women and girls are safe and respected and can reach their amazing potential? We believe it will take bold action. And change is certainly afoot.

There has been incredible momentum building over the last two months around ending violence against girls and women. On February 14, One Billion Rising (an initiative led by V-Day) mobilized millions of women and men around the world in the largest global action in history to end violence against girls and women. On former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's penultimate day in the office, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum that institutionalizes an ambassador-at-large to run the Office of Global Women's Issues, ensuring that girls and women have a place on our national agenda.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (March 9-10, 2013)

March 10, 2013

Daylight_savings_2013Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a two-part series on her Non-Profit Marketing blog (here and here), Katya Andresen shares highlights of a discussion she had with Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward about the key themes in their recently published book Social Change Anytime Everywhere, including how nonprofits can use online tools to advance their work.

On the Communications Network blog, Courtney Williamson, the network's community manager, shares slides and video from Avoiding the Blind Spot: Telling Your Story With Pictures, a recent network webinar featuring Resource Media's Liz Banse and Scott Miller. Among other things, Banse and Miller outline three principles of good communication: 1) people are visual first, verbal second; 2) people's decisions and actions are based on emotional reaction more than rational thought; and 3) visuals are the most effective communications vehicles for evoking emotion and getting people to take action.

Disaster Relief

On the techPresident blog, Julia Wetherell looks at findings from a new Internews report on the effectiveness of crisis mapping following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. Among other things, the report found that the crisis map created on the Ushahidi platform was "not as critical to [the humanitarian] response" as previously thought, in part because many victims of the disaster weren't aware of it. "The accessibility of crisis mapping was also dependent on the availability of Internet service," says Wetherell. To address that shortcoming, the report recommends strengthening IT infrastructure, particularly in less connected rural areas, before the next disaster hits.

NPR has a good interview with reporter Jonathan Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.

Continue reading »

Good Read of the Week: 'Women and the Web'

March 08, 2013

Women-and-the-Web_coverToday is International Women's Day, and a whole host of events and discussions celebrating extraordinary women and highlighting the inequities women around the globe continue to face are taking place -- many of them online. Yet few women in the developing world are aware of these online activities, let alone able to participate. Despite all the knowledge and opportunity the Internet has created over the last two decades and the millions of lives it has transformed, women in many parts of the world have little or no access to the mother of all networks.

According to Women and the Web (104 pages, PDF), a report from Intel and Dalberg Global Development Advisors, an average of only 21 percent of the women and girls in 144 developing countries have access to the Internet, compared with 27 percent of men -- a weighted gender gap of 23 percent. And the gap widens to 33 percent in South Asia, 34 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, and 43 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. The situation is even more serious, the report argues, when one factors in the tangible benefits of Internet access for women. These include increases in women's income potential and a greater sense of empowerment. Indeed, the longer a woman has been active online, the report finds, the more likely she is to engage in activities that generate economic benefits.

Continue reading »


Quote of the Week

  • "Simplification is by far the most effective way to manage complexity...."

    Felix Salmon

Subscribe to Philantopic


Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »


Other Blogs