Prosperity, Sisterhood, and Honeybees

Two years ago, in my work as founder of Honeybee Capital, I was trying to describe investing that is truly connected to the world, to the people, to the products and entities that provide meaning and value to our communities. The language I needed was elusive. I examined terms used in the various “integrated health” indices for economies, but Gross National Happiness, while a great broadening from Gross National Product, did not quite hit the mark. Sustainability is also a wonderful term, but I was aiming to describe something even more than that. A type of investing that is regenerative and renewing, thoughtful and full of (dare I say it?) joy.

Prosperity – that is the word that truly describes what I sought.prosperity_opportunities This is a term with both depth and breadth. Prosperity is defined as “to thrive or succeed in a healthy way.” That little word “healthy” is so important – it nods to a more complete view of success, one that includes physical, mental, emotional, and economic well-being; one that extends beyond the individual to include whole families and whole communities. Another layer of meaning is found in the root words – Latin terms for “hope” and “fortune” are, quite literally, the roots of prosperity. So Prosperity is success, yes – but it’s healthy success, broad-based and full of hope.

It was right around this time that I met Prosperity Catalyst, the nonprofit, and Prosperity Candle, the sister enterprise that serves as product marketing specialist. Siiri Morley, the Executive Director, presented to the Pipeline Fellowship, a women’s angel investor training network, where I was a member. So right from the start, we were united by the idea of women helping other women. Actually, much more than that – women investing in other women, and in their prosperity.

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Prosperity Catalyst does not come by its name lightly – it earns that name every day, in the work of all who are connected with the group. The organization trains women to run their own businesses. Prosperity Candle, the sister organization, provides the direct link to the market for the Catalyst’s women to sell their creations, ensuring that all of that training and production is both useful and use-able. With this model, Prosperity links locally-focused training and business leadership to broader global markets. This is not an isolated process of training for training’s sake, but a strategy that melds strategic and tactical. Plus, the candles are so beautiful! Siiri and her team helped me to plan the first-ever corporate gift for Honeybee Capital, a beautiful beeswax candle.

The light from those candles is lovely, steady and clear – but it is nothing compared to another sort of light I see coming from Prosperity Catalyst. The most important element I have come to appreciate in this organization is a subtle one: it’s how their program and the people involved are modeling leadership in a powerful and different way. Siiri and the entire Prosperity Catalyst team demonstrate leadership that is bold and attention-grabbing – while also service-oriented and nuanced. They are effective and efficient – and still deeply human. They are determined and devoted – while embracing flexibility and creativity. This is the kind of leadership I want to see in the world.

For all of these reasons, I am delighted to be able to support Prosperity Catalyst. I hope you will join me.

katherineKatherine Collins is Founder and CEO of Honeybee Capital, and author of the forthcoming book, The Nature of Investing.  After a long and successful career in traditional equity management, Katherine set out to integrate her investment philosophy with the broader world by traveling as a pilgrim and volunteer, earning her MTS degree at Harvard Divinity School, and studying the natural world as guide for investing to add value in an integrated way, beneficial to our portfolios, to our communities, and to our planet.  

See more about Katherine’s work at www.honeybeecapital.com or follow her on Twitter @honeybeecap.

 

Our Young Selves: Learning, Serving and Celebrating

With the new school year approaching, I’m thinking about fresh starts—for my 15-year-old daughter and for me. She and her peers seem interested in volunteering, but I wonder if it’s more about building a college résumé than offering community service. A study last year reports that the Millennial generation (roughly ages 18-29) actually volunteers and donates more than any previous one. The trick is connecting a young person to a community need that resonates, prompting a lifetime of service and an enthusiasm for giving back.

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The Young Woman’s Guide is a nice start. Aimed at women and girls ages 15-35, YWG provides educational opportunities, partners mentors/mentees, and works on a global scale. I also love DoSomething.org, a site devoted to helping those 25 or younger (nearly 2 million at last count) to “kick ass on causes they care about.” (If, like me, you’re “old” by their standards, their Old People FAQ gives us some ageless guidance on how to start volunteering.)

A recent Women 2.0 article underscores the urgency of training young women to give, contribute, and lead. Now at 40% ownership, women are anticipated to launch a full 50% of the 9.72 million new businesses expected in the U.S. by 2018. That’s just five years from now. Maybe my daughter won’t be thinking about finding a job but, rather, becoming one of the many women creating a company of her own.

These are exciting times for women, young and “old” (ahem, over 26).

 

Young Women Funding Social Impact

Catalytic Women gathered in San Francisco in June to hear three experts talk about engaging younger women who are defining their own ways of giving back. While I may not be of this generation, it was such a treat to hear from them and to feel their energy. This is my favoriate audience for our work – the enthusiasm, creativity and optimism is absolutely infectious.

Our panelists were, likewise, three dynamic young women:

L.Volftsun

Lana Volftsun

Lana made clear some of the obstacles for giving that younger donors face:

  1. Affordability. So many images of “philanthropy” are of older donors, often men, making very large gifts. This is ironic for 3 reasons: women make most giving decisions; the cumulative impact of individuals giving at modest levels now can be so much more significant than a single, large legacy gift; and few of us see ourselves as able to make million dollar donations.
  2. Knowledge. With over 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S., thinking about finding the best fit is downright daunting. It can be hard to know where to start.
  3. Impact. We all want to know that our dollars, at whatever level of giving, make a difference. Sounds so simple, but it’s not.
Erin Geiger

Erin Geiger

I’m a big fan of the “dumb question” – I find it opens dialogue by making it OK for others to admit not knowing it all. Erin answered mine: What is the definition of a Millennial? And, as expected, lots of others jumped in to ask their own questions. None were dumb.

Millennials are between 18 and 25 years old. Next Gen seems to have a broader interpretation, including Gen X and Gen Y. Panelists agreed that these latter tags relate more to life experience and association than to quantitative standards.

We heard other illuminating answers to words commonly used in discussing social impact. Not surprisingly, these answers led to some of the vehicles that young women are using to engage as donors and social investors.

  • Microfinance is a platform, a portal, between those of us interested in making smaller gifts (or loans) and those living in poverty without access to banks and traditional financial resources.
  • Crowdfunding is an online platform where many people can support a single project.
  • A giving circle is the reverse: a group where many people work collaboratively to find one or several organizations to support.
  • Impact investing creates both a return on investment (ROI) and a positive social and/or environmental impact.
  • Impact considers a company or organization’s ability to create positive benefits that are social (e.g. provide jobs or affordable housing) or environmental (such as sustainable land use or clean energy).

Affordability

Leigh Moran

Leigh Moran

Leigh shared Calvert Foundation’s philosophy of changing the way that capital flows: it is not mutually exclusive to raise money from investors and to deploy it for social impact across the global. Their Community Investment Note allows an individual to invest as little as $20 in creating a financial and social return.

One Percent Foundation has the goal of mobilizing Millennials to give just that: 1% of their income. This September they will launch new giving circles – and Catalytic Women is excited to be partnering with them.

Knowledge

Younger donors aren’t the only ones struggling with learning about options for impact and building financial confidence in how to fund change in the world around us. As Leigh put it, one of their goals is for Millennials to see themselves as investors. By offering ways to invest in causes that are a person’s passion, through initiatives like WIN_WIN_RGB_2inches-1Women Investing in Women (WIN-WIN) and Engaging Diaspora Communities, Calvert Foundation is exploring ways to engage some of the largest groups of potential funders: young adults, diaspora communities with a common origin in a geographic region, and women.

Camp Start Up, Kiva’s summer program launched this year in partnership with Independent Means, provides financial education to young adults and inspires social entrepreneurship. At either end of the spectrum – extreme poverty or extreme wealth – it can be difficult to discuss money.

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DoSomething.org is the largest network in the U.S. educating and mobilizing teens for social impact. Why wait until we feel that we have enough to give? All the better if we can start that education earlier (or, in my case, help my daughter build her financial confidence and impact).

Impact

One participate asked, If an investment can be made in either a nonprofit or for-profit enterprise, what’s the difference between an investment and a donation? As more giirs-logohybrid options become available, this line seems to blur. Perhaps the larger question is, does it matter? Yet the metrics used to evaluate social impact, such as Global Impact Investing Rating System (GIIRS) and IRIS, are a good place for us to create awareness about impact in any kind of funding for social change.

Storytelling is a powerful way to engage and create impact. One young woman told of a call from her alma mater telling her she was a VIP among alumni donors. She wondered how this could be, with the modest amount that she gave. Yet others were giving less; to them, she was an example of action and impact.

Act

How can young women fund social impact? Their options are available to us all. Here were some of the many possibilities that emerged from the conversation with our experts:

  1. Invest a small amount and get hooked. Put as little as $20 into a Community Investment Note through Calvert Foundation or take $25 to start a lending team with Kiva.
  2. Tell your story. Even better if you tell your story in your own voice – take a video on your phone and post it to Facebook or LinkedIn.
  3. Connect with others around giving. Join a giving circle to meet other women who give, or bring a giving circle – like One Percent Foundation or Catalytic Women’s giving circles – to another group, like a professional network.

Catalytic Women has resources on all the above. Just email me at melanie@catalyticwomen.com and we’ll point you in the right direction for making your own, personal impact in your own way.

5 Steps to Impact Investing With a Gender Lens

Two weeks ago in Boston I had the extraordinary pleasure of hearing from three women I admire greatly: Jackie VanderBrug, Siiri Morley and Cheryl Kiser. They spoke about the complexities of social impact at a Catalytic Women event. Their perspectives spanned the full range of engagement in social impact.

In this emerging field of social entrepreneurs and gender lens investments, I see the smartest people I know struggling with definitions and metrics and models. It’s confusing — and exciting. The opportunities have never been better for women. I’m jumping in.

Care to join me? Here are a few, easy steps to help you start, from our experts who spoke to a group of Catalytic Women on May 2 in Boston.

  1. Be the brand. Women make most consumer purchases and each dollar we spend has an impact. Leverage your power when you shop. Look for products made by women. Have you seen Prosperity Candle’s beautiful selection of gifts for self and others? Siiri spoke of the women who create these products and use candle-making as a business to lift themselves out of poverty in some of the world’s harshest places. Jackie also told a story of looking for a special purchase for herself and taking the time online to find a source that has a positive impact on its community. The Internet has never made this easier.
  2. Focus your philanthropy. Jackie’s US Trust and Boston’s own The Philanthropic Initiative have a High Impact Giving Guide focused on gender lens philanthropy. She also spoke about a Monitor Institute/Packard Foundation report on enterprise philanthropy. Prosperity Catalyst, the nonprofit sister organization led by Siiri, is creating a special hands-on learning community for donors who support their work at $5,000 as Founding Catalyzers (perfect for Catalytic Women!) and will have opportunities to see the impact the organization makes in reducing poverty.
  3. Invest in a woman entrepreneur. Prosperity Candle is funding a royalties program so that their global women candle makers have inventory and supply expenses covered, minimizing their initial outlay of $20,000. Kiva and Catapult offer microloans to women around the world starting with as little as $20. WINWIN (a fund of Calvert Investments), WAGES (US Trust Investment for Women and Girls Equality Strategy), and the Raise for Women Crowdrise challenge allow investments in women entrepreneurs. Join Pipeline FellowshipAstia Angel or Golden Seeds to invest seed funding to women-led startups.
  4. Leverage your company’s giving and marketing funds. Make the case in your own business or to your corporate leaders: devote a percentage of your company’s philanthropic budget towards social enterprises with shared values; create marketing partnerships with companies looking to shift the gift and create more meaningful event and corporate swag; or invest in programs that train social entrepreneurs, like the Social Innovation Lab at Babson College.
  5. Ask questions. No one has all the answers in this space of social enterprise, impact and gender lens investing. And only a minority of financial advisors are familiar with these tools for ROI with a social benefit. If clients aren’t asking, advisors have no reason to learn. Ask your wealth manager: What is the impact of my portfolio on women and girls?

A bit more about the experts who offer these strategies…

C.Kiser

Cheryl Kiser, as head of The Lewis Institute for Social Innovation and Babson Social Innovation Lab, knows the challenges of becoming (or not) a social entrepreneur.

S.Morley

Siiri Morley brings experience as a founding team member of social enterprise Prosperity Candle and nonprofit Prosperity Catalyst, and spoke of the risks and benefits of these contrasting for/non-profit business models for social impact.

J.Vanderbrug

Jackie VanderBrug, as an early leader in gender lens investing and in her new role leading social investing strategies at US Trust, explained the myriad ways to invest in enterprises run by women, benefiting women, or both.

And let me know where your journey into gender lens investing and supporting social entrepreneurs leads you — or how Catalytic Women’s network and resources can help.

Launch for Social Impact?

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I just spent three thought-provoking days at Launch2013, a San Francisco conference of 5000 startup founders, and was struck by the parallels between those involved in startups and those of us in social impact: the messy, not-quite-sure-what-will-work challenges combined with our crazy optimism, intellect and creativity.

First of all, I need to give a huge shout-out to keynote speaker Chamath Palihapitiya. After taking Facebook from 30M to 850M users, he’s bringing the same extraordinary vision to Social + Capital Partnership, his new VC firm whose aim is to “use tech to break barriers and solve big problems.” When he asked the key questions, “What’s the value?” he meant value the same way nonprofits mean value. “It’s not the exit check,” he said, “it’s the legacy. If I spend every bit of my Facebook money trying to cure cancer, I’m OK with that.” He was a remarkable speaker, both charming and sincere. And he has the means to make a very big impact. I hope for more people like Chamath on our side.

Launch is a big conference, and I expected to be surrounded by 5,000 super smart young men who had already figured out the elements of creating a successful business. Indeed, I was surrounded by about 4500 men and most of the ones I met were smart, but the rest came as a surprise.

A major part of the conference is the “pitch” sessions, where entrepreneurs have 20 minutes to present a concept and convince a tough panel of judges (from the venture cap or angel investing worlds) that their products can fly.  Far from what I expected, most of the judges on the panel, along with the presenters, were … old guys. Some may have been a little younger than myself (just shy of 50), but I didn’t see any 20-year-olds up there. That was a huge surprise and it made me feel like “one of the guys.” I mean, I could have been up there with them. My fear of feeling outdated among gads of youthful, confident startup geniuses was completely unfounded – from an age standpoint, I fit right in.

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Shock #2: Although their vision seemed crystal clear, many of the “pitchers” struggled with concrete metrics for the initial tests (aka betas) of their products. No bold, audacious vision was lacking. They knew what they wanted to do, just not how to do it. So like nonprofits! Most of presenters hemmed and hawed about the number of actual users, average revenue per user, and so on. But while the judges may have been frustrated by these responses, from my perspective, it was refreshing to hear (and a little funny). Again, I felt like each of them was one of us.

Lastly, I was stunned by the enormous gap between creative ideas and concrete action. Less than 25% of attendees had taken steps to try to bring their vision to reality.  Few of them had created an actual demo or applied to an accelerator (boot-camp for startups). Most of them came with little more than a dream.

As I sat there, I realized that the people behind these startups may not be all that different than the rest of us.

In another regard, a special kudos to Jason Calacanis, conference organizer and host of This Week in Startups, for his efforts to get more women in the room. Judging from his opening comments and the women speakers he invited to the Launch diversity panel, I believe his efforts were sincere. But in terms of the attendees themselves, there was only a smattering of us – maybe 10%.

Finally, I could feel the humility when Vivek Wadhwa, who writes about the tech world and is an advocate for more inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups, admitted “I used to be so adamant that Silicon Valley was the ultimate meritocracy,” because he saw so much ethnic diversity. True. It doesn’t look all white when you have so many shades of East Asian. He humbly admitted that diversity includes a breadth of perspectives that aren’t (yet) mainstream in tech: women, blacks, latinos. It’s all in how we choose to see it. And I thank his wife, whom Vivek credits with helping to expand the lens through which he now sees these issues.

After three full days of Launch2013, I’m left with a tremendous sense of hope, possibility and camaraderie. Social entrepreneurs like myself and other Catalytic Women aren’t the only ones who haven’t figured it all out.

Dorka Keehn and Charity Kenyon on the Power of One (Woman)

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Last week I had the chance to listen in as two inspiring women — Dorka Keehn and Charity Kenyon — shared their stories of social impact. The real message was the Power of One — how one busy woman learns about issues, funds solutions and, sometimes in the process, creates a movement around an idea.

What I heard from these women resonates at every level in thinking about how to fund your passion.

  • Be curious about other people’s stories. How does one person make cw_blogEcoJudyBondschange? Surprisingly often it happens in an utter dearth of resources. By exploring your curiosity about others who do something amazing, you’re likely to gain a social impact momentum of your own. Dorka shared the story of Judy Bonds, an Appalachian coal mining daughter who won the Goldman Award for her work against destructive mountaintop removal and, in turn, was Dorka’s inspiration for writing ECO AMAZONS: 20 Women Who Are Transforming the World.
  • Networks are the tools that turn ideas into impact. This is especially true for women, who often lack connections needed to access and influence decision-makers. Charity’s long-ago support of the League of Women Voters laid the groundwork for her ability to influence access to good, clean, fair food for all through her leadership in the Slow Food Movement, first through her local chapter and, now, as a national governor.
  • Childhood experiences lay the groundwork in unexpected ways. Dorka’s dad raised her as a girl who could do anything; seeing so many women who lacked this support and confidence inspired her to found Emerge and Ignite as organizations to encourage women and girl’s political leadership. Charity’s trip to study abroad in Denmark exposed her to the challenges of family farming in a way that was eye-opening. This planted the seed for her work as chair of a new committee for Slow Food, helping foster collaboration on statewide policy issues that find creative ways of meeting the challenges of small rural nonprofits.

Dorka Keehn and Charity Kenyon are two amazing women. Yet their message involved a beautiful simplicity of focus and action. Their journeys started in their own homes and backyards, and they hit their stride during the busiest times of their lives.

And neither story is about women, per se. Dorka shared a critical lesson learned by Emerge in the early days: “Gender is secondary to the issue. At Emerge, we learned that having more women in political office wasn’t a concern for most people, but the impact of these elected women’s unique communication style and approach to leadership was highly effective.” Sometimes isn’t not even about what we do, but the way we do it.

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Charity saw the magnificent Great Central Valley of California and the world’s most productive farmland disappearing under subdivisions. Perhaps her career as a First Amendment, environmental and appellate law attorney shaped her passion. She asked around her own community: What organization addresses this issue? Restarting the local Sacramento Chapter of the Slow Food Movement led her to deep involvement in their work across the US and the globe — from her backyard of Sacramento (Well, actually, Galt. I couldn’t resist the reference, knowing Ayn Rand’s book will become a film this year.) to the 1,000 Gardens in Africa project.

cw_blogEcoAmazonsDorka’s “other life” is all about art: as an award-winning conceptual artist, avid speaker on art in the public sphere, writer of EcoAmazons and the recent article for San Francisco Magazine on The Philanthropists: Eleven Women Who Exemplify the Power, Economic and Otherwise, of Social Entrepreneurship. She works in diverse mediums including radio, film, and sculpture — and women’s leadership.

Interesting that both women, from their unique paths, have developed a shared passion for environmental sustainability. So what’s next for these women?

Charity is enjoying retirement with her husband, Mike Eaton, on their 5-acre Kingbird Farms, a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), site and has hosted some 85 young farmers from around the world at their home.

Dorka’s interests have expanded beyond women-focused issues to the issues themselves. She sees the opportunity for creativity and consciousness to impact our world, and to focus on how we approach and engage around the larger concerns that affect us all.

Stay tuned. More to come from these Catalytic Women.

A Gender Lens: Women In Film And Stem

What an inspiring discussion—to hear women leaders in film production and social ventures inspire us with their experiences and wisdom on Film and Philanthropy at Google. Our panelists—Susan Cartsonis, Eva Maria Daniels and Vivian Kleiman—are blazing a trail to transform the way people see women and the world, through film and video.

Before I share their fabulous resources for film philanthropy from our discussion on November 15 at Google, I want to ask your help in directing our programs in 2013—join the Launch Team of our all-new Partners program and connect with experts, best practices and other smart women seeking innovations in philanthropy. Start now and let Catalytic Women help you make yearend giving decisions with ease, impact and confidence. As with all our programs, they start with smart women like you and I’d very much like to know what else we can include in benefits for Partners to meet your needs.Will you join us now and help shape the future of Catalytic Women? Your support is instrumental to our success.

I’m still thinking about high impact organizations focused on the issue of gender equality in the media, and the resources shared by our panelists. Read on!

Susan Cartsonis is founder of Storefront Pictures and would love to hear from youS.Cartsonis at: susan@storefrontpics.com. She suggests:

  • Women in Film (WIF), a nonprofit that helps women thrive in the global entertainment, communication and media industries, and also preserves the legacies of professional women who came before. Susan is the board chair of theirWomen in Film Foundation, offering funds for film finishing, mentoring and other important issues.
  • SeeJane.org educates, advocates, engages and collaborates with entertainment creators on leading positive change through varied portrayals of female and male characters in movies and TV. They have some powerful research from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on images aimed at children 11 and under.
  • Women and Hollywood has a blog and weekly e-news on new films by and for women.
  • Catalyst does amazing research on women leadership in business, science and technology, including the increased ROI of publicly-traded companies with gender diversity on their corporate boards.
  • Taking action: buy tickets to major motion pictures with strong women characters, especially since the vast number of movie tickets are purchased by women.

Eva Maria Daniels is founder of Impact Emotion Films and can be reached at E.Danielseva@evadanielsproductions.com. She shared:

  • Impact Emotion Films, a new film fund co-founded by Eva Daniels Productions and led by two women partner, which seeks to produce smaller movies with social impact that are box office successes.
  • The power of collaboration, since virtually every film made now is the product of several people who had a vision and started talking with friends and funders.
  • Use social media to tell friends about a great film with a social impact, raising awareness to influential others like the Motion Picture Academy that chose impact film The King’s Speech for best picture last year.

Vivian Kleiman is a documentary film consultant, director and electronic mediaV.Kleiman producer, and can be reached at vivkleiman@gmail.com. She had great practical suggestions to support documentary film makers, such as:

  • The ability to leverage our professional expertise for documentary films in need of assistance with legal, accounting or publicity.
  • Voting with our dollars at our many wonderful local film festivals, which can attract press and have a big impact on the mainstream distribution of a documentary film.
  • Crowdfunding for early investment in film production, such as the first crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo.comRocketHub.com for creative projects, NewJelly.com for artists and films, and the largest crowdfunding site, Kickstarter.com, which had 730 projects in their Film and Video category when I checked today.
  • Become an advocate by buying copies of DVDs of the films you love for your community, school or college library.
  • Follow the advice of author and speaker Scott Kirsner, whose recent book Fans, Friends and Followers presents creative possibilities for online video and new technologies changing the entertainment industry.
  • Media Impact Funders (formerly Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media) has an online database that connects seekers of funding and donors to media projects in the public interest.

And a few others we mentioned:

  • The School Fund, founded by our Google host Matt Severson three years ago as a platform to help students in the developing world to pay for books and supplies, provides the opportunity to pursue secondary school when they otherwise could not afford to do so.
  • GoldieBlox: The Engineering Toy for Girls and their fabulously successful Kickstarter campaign, was created by Stanford engineering graduate Debbie Sterling to tackle the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Roominate is another building toy for girls who are artists, engineers, architects and visionaries.

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to Devi Kamdar, who was too sick to moderate our panel, and the Palo Alto International Film Festival she helped launch, which completed its second year in September 2012. Catalytic Women was proud to sponsor their local documentary film program. Tremendous thanks also to our partner in creating this 2012 series for Women Giving Under the Radar, the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership at UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business. And thanks to Albayk in San Mateo for the great Mediterranean food.

Read more about opportunities to promote film and media for and about women on our last blog post on November 9 below

How can we help you leverage your scarce time, abundant intellect, and resources at any level to give well? Email me at melanie@catalyticwomen.com or call my cellular at 415.999.3197. Very much looking forward to our next conversation—I hope when I welcome you to the Partners Launch Team of Catalytic Women!

Funding Film and Media for Social Change

The recent Hollywood Reporter article on George Lucas’ $4 billion funding for education got me to thinking about high impact organizations focused on the issue of gender equality in the media. These are the types of innovations we see and share with members of Catalytic Women who want to give at any level for big change, and the topic of our November 15 event at Google in Silicon Valley on Women, Film and Philanthropy.

Women in Film/Women in Film Foundation

Women in Film (WIF) is a nonprofit that helps women thrive in the global entertainment, communication and media industries, and also preserves the legacy of the professional women who came before. For nearly 40 years WIF and its Women in Film Foundation have provided members with an extensive network of contacts, educational programs, scholarships, film finishing funds, access to industry jobs, mentorships and more.

Not in the entertainment business? Join WIF as a Friend of Women in Film or donate to one of their special funds: the WIFF Film Finishing Fund provides cash and in-kind grants to complete films by, for or about women; the WIF PSA Program trains young female filmmakers who produce free PSA’s for charities; the WIFF Legacy Projectpreserves the legacy of women in front of and behind the screen through documentary portraits; and the WIFF Mentoring Program guides women new to the industry. A collaboration between the Sundance Institute and WIF will study statistics regarding women filmmakers from the 2012 Sundance Festival, analyzing challenges they face moving projects forward, and will host a symposium in Los Angeles to share learnings and foster solutions.

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media/See Jane

At the Women’s Funding Network conference in May I had the pleasure of hearing Academy Award winner Geena Davis speak—super smart, successful, and surprisingly modest, just like many Catalytic Women. (One of my favorite quotes from her keynote speech is on our News page.)

Six years ago, while watching children’s entertainment with her young daughter, she noticed a remarkable imbalance in the ratio of male to female characters. From there, Ms. Davis commissioned the largest research study ever undertaken on gender in children’s entertainment. The research showed that in the top-grossing G-rated films, there were three male characters for every one female—a statistic that still has not improved. From that was born the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the leading resource for gender in media research, trends and education for the entertainment industry and the public. See Jane is a program of the Institute that utilizes research, education and advocacy to engage and collaborate with entertainment creators on leading positive change through varied portrayals of female and male characters in movies, TV, and other media aimed at children 11 and under.

If a young women can see it, she can be it.

High-Leverage Giving and Impact Investing

What a treat to hear our panel discussion on Impact Investing and Strategic Philanthropy! We had a great turnout for our October Live Event in Silicon Valley, and the conversation was both enlightening and and enlivened. Many thanks to our Guest Speakers Safia Kryger-Nelson and Kim Wright-Violich for leading everyone through through a topic so important and relevant to Women Philantropists.

Safia Kryger-Nelson, Senior Account Manager of ImpactAssets, talked about safiaopportunities to blend giving vehicles with impact investing, creating triple-bottom-line impact for your philanthropic dollars. Safia oversees the growth of ImpactAssets’ Giving Fund, a unique donor advised fund that multiplies the impact of current grantmaking with tailored investments that work for maximum social and environmental benefit—while also earning a return to increase future giving potential.

K.ViolichKim Wright-Violich is principal of a consulting practice focused on philanthropic and social sector consulting, and former CEO/President of Schwab Charitable. She shared practical insights from teaching UC Berkeley undergraduates to become strategic donors in the highly rated Cal Strategic Philanthropyclass, as well as from her extensive career developing donor-advised funds and tools to engage philanthropists at all levels.

Women have significant financial influence—she makes most of the giving and spending decisions, and owns the majority of assets—and a woman makes decisions about wealth differently. Regardless of a her income or assets, she can make an impact on an issue, and is likely to bring her values and family into decisions around wealth.

As we convene women in Silicon Valley, Boston and elsewhere who are looking for innovations in philanthropy, let us know your interests. This event is the first of two pilot programs this fall for Women Giving Under the Radarwith the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership at the University of California Haas School of Business. The Center offers social sector solutions and develops the next generation of leaders. LinkedIn was our host for this event.

Women Giving Under the Radar is exactly the kind of unique event that Catalytic Women creates to convene women thought leaders who are redefining what it means to have and share wealth. Future topics may include leadership and nonprofit boards, giving/investing hybrids, entrepreneurial philanthropy, women in politics, gender lens investing, women’s economic power, and giving to women. What’s your interest? I welcome your ideas—indeed, rely upon them—as we create new programs for women like us.

Inspiring Women Impacting Poverty, Film and Philanthropy

Talk about inspiring women in philanthropy… This past week I’ve been in Boston and beyond, meeting the leadership of Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute, 100 Women in Hedge Funds, 85 Broads, Criterion Ventures, and others at the Convergence XII gathering on gender lens investing. Wow. It’s a reminder of our powerful, understated approach to philanthropy, and the diverse ways that women have an impact on really big issues.

And, speaking of an inspiring woman, I have a request form Katherina Rosqueta, a member of Catalytic Women’s advisory board and executive director of The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. They have been commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to conduct a study on donor learning groups—especially for funders in the area of vulnerable youth and families.

This is right up our alley of convening women who exert their financial influence on our communities—so we’re asking on their behalf… Do you have some experience with this issue, including significant annual philanthropic contributions? Do you know someone who does? If so, please consider a phone interview with Jennifer Landres.

Another recent conversation—this time with two thought leaders in film, Executive Director Devyani Kamdar and Founder Joon Yun of the Palo Alto Institute and International Film Festival—reminded me of the close link between film and philanthropy as powerful strategies for achieving impact. Catalytic Women is thrilled to be sponsoring the Local Shorts Program on Friday, September 28, at 6:30, which includes several Bay Area documentaries illuminating a cause.

All this talk about documentary film made me curious about producing a film to raise awareness of an issue. Like many of our programs, I reaching out to others I admire to see if it was a topic on their minds. With the help of these creative thinkers, we will launch on October 9, in Silicon Valley, a series for Women Giving Under the Radar—and looking for high-impact giving opportunities at all levels. I am thrilled to be working with Nora Silver, Director of the University of California Haas School’s Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership, Linked In, ImpactAssets and Kim Wright-Violich on this program.

This series will profile favorite high-leverage giving tools from a dynamic panel of experts, followed by “open space” (attendee-directed) small group discussions on topics related to women’s wealth and giving. We’re trying it out in Silicon Valley—come let us know what you thnk and how we can expand it to smart women in other regions.