Women Innovators and the Freedom to Fail

I recently listened to the Bloomberg Women to Watch interview with women tech leaders at Facebook, SurveyMonkey, Stella & Dot, and Accel Partners.

cw_NewsLtr01_WtW365_01Midway through the interview, they talk about comfort with failing. Or, as the organizer of the annual FAILFaire conference puts it, “if you’re not failing, you’re not considered to be innovating enough.”

Women who are funding social impact share much with entrepreneurs, tech innovators and startups. The models are evolving. The outcome is unclear. There is a very high risk of failure.

Catalyst has fascinating studies showing that women, in particular, feel a lot of pressure to educate ourselves – especially when forging ahead into new territory. I think it boils down to this: women want to feel credible. And we want good resources and advisors to help point us in the right direction.

women + financial influence + community = social impact

The formula is straightforward, but the available information is not. Women now own the majority of private assets in the US. (See sidebar infographic.) Consider the impact of this emerging demographic of wealth: women influence most financial decisions, yet make decisions differently.

Catalytic Women is building a dynamic community of women who want to leverage their intellectual and financial resources for social impact. This new community is free, by application only. It takes 5 minutes to apply online.

If you know women – friends, clients, colleagues – who are curious about peer learning networks, please share this email with them. If you advise women learning how to fund social impact, let us share our resources with you. And if you’re already a believer, invite me to speak at your next event. As you can see, I’m passionate about this topic.

For those tackling a new business, big idea or a major social issue in 2013, best of luck with your failures.


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.