For Transformative Change, We Must Give Strategically – and Build a Movement

For Transformative Change, We Must Give Strategically – and Build a Movement

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Christine Grumm was honored as an Ashoka ChangemakeHER, Changemakers's inaugural celebration of the world's most influentual and inspiring women. Find her fellow honorees' voices here.

by Christine Grumm, President and CEO of Women's Funding Network

The news of this past year in philanthropy has focused on billionaires engaged in two different types of giving. On one side Warren Buffett, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill and Melinda Gates are giving millions to causes like education and health. On the other, George Soros and the (Charles and David) Koch brothers – opposite ends of the political spectrum from left to right – are using their philanthropy to build movements to achieve their visions. Those of us supporting equality for women and girls must take note.
 
Leaders in women’s philanthropy realize we must scale up our movement building. The Women Moving Millions Campaign -- our partnership with visionary philanthropists Swanee and Helen LaKelly Hunt – is just the start of what we can achieve through our collective power. In 2009 the campaign exceeded its goal of raising $150 million in gifts of $1 million and more that went to improving the lives of women and girls.
 
The movement building philanthropy practiced by Soros and the Koch brothers shows transformative change is not possible if the infrastructure is not in place. From think tanks and policy groups to sustainable women’s organizations on the ground to support for organizing efforts, communication campaigns to networks and research -- all of these need to be in the mix, if we are serious about making a difference that will make history.
 
Our philanthropy must build a movement that will bring lasting change for women and girls, instead of just funding individual projects. We know that women and girls every day face what has been called a “wicked problem” – complex in its making and equally complex in its solutions – that requires a system of support that goes beyond piecemeal. And support must be robust enough so the work of social change is the driver rather than always thinking about how to keep the doors of individual organizations open.
 
So how can we take part in philanthropy that builds a movement? Very few of us will become billionaires, but together we can pool the $1 million gifts, the $1,000 gifts and the $100 gifts and work together to be even more powerful.  Together we can strengthen a framework that supports women and girls as the lens needed to make the equation work for changing the world for everyone, because if women and girls are left out of the equation it just will not add up.   
         
We must partner to be leaders in the chorus of supporting women and girls so that the transformation of whole communities can be realized through policy work, media, corporate partnerships and work on the ground.
 
We must think strategically about our philanthropy—moving through our individual passions and disciplines toward a larger vision of collaboration.
 
We must open doors via our networks—both professional and personal—to widen funding streams and magnify our voices.  We need advocates at the grassroots, in the halls of government, and in corporate headquarters to let everyone know that we are here to stay and we want our say!
 
We must invite a larger audience—including seemingly unlikely partners—to join with us, engaging leaders from other social movements and organizations that align with our goals and vision.
 
And, finally, we must recognize the essential role of women’s leadership in bringing all this to pass.
 
What I am describing is not getting a bigger piece of the pie.  What I predict will come into focus in 2011 is a phenomenon whereby the pie is made larger—to lift up women and girls, and thus the communities and societies where, as the proverb goes, they hold up half the sky.

★★★
 

     Christine has more than three decades of experience as a leader in effecting social change through civil society, and especially through women’s philanthropy.

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