The Myth of Philanthropy

1097965_663631206998986_1578851352_nWe hear inspiring stories of wealthy Americans who give back – through the Giving Pledge or interviews where they tell the background behind their generosity. We think: How nice. How different they are from us.

I’ll admit it. It bugs me that so much of what we hear about “philanthropy” is from those with tremendous wealth. But that makes sense, you say. They have the most to give.

Yet the statistics around giving tell a very different story.

In 2011, $298 billion was given to charity. You may already know that the vast majority of charitable donations comes from individuals—73%—with the remaining 17% culled from foundations, bequests and corporations combined.

But here’s the real story: Fully 74% of the total giving by individuals was offered by households with incomes of less than $200,000. That’s right. Working stiffs like us gave $162 billion. Shockingly, families making less than $50,000 gave 37% of that amount.

I truly admire the Buffett and Gates’ families for their business acumen and for the amazing examples they set for large-scale strategic philanthropy. What I wonder is: Why are their stories the only ones we hear? Despite all their wealth, the Gates’ and Buffetts are not contributing the majority of funding to nonprofits. We are.

Dec. 3 is Giving Tuesday, a chance for us to share our stories. It’s also a chance for us to celebrate the fact that each of us—really—can make a difference. Statistically, it’s exactly people like us who are making that difference.

Imagine joining with others who care about the same issues and giving together. Wonderful organizations like this exist for funding women and girls, such as Women Moving Millions (whose CEO, Jacki Zehner, serves on our advisory board), Women Donors Network, and many local groups like Impact 100. But say your interest is poverty or environment or youth development or health. Or maybe you don’t give $100,000 or $5,000 or $1,000 each year focused on women and girls.

Say you’d like to give a bit less or you’re still learning what will be your big issue. You want to explore what’s out there, but you’d also like to learn as part of a community.

This is really what Giving Tuesday is all about. At Catalytic Women we wanted to be part of this incredible movement to offer a new way of giving in 2013: one that allows a woman to give at any level, to share her story as part of a giving community, to enjoy learning and helping, to make an impact with friends, and to change the world … maybe with just a bit more than pocket change. 

So this Giving Tuesday, I challenge you to brag that you really do have enough to make a difference. Share your story with others. Connect with friends—new or old—over the change you want to make in the world. And then, give together and make that change. Each of us really can make a big impact with not-so-big dollars.

Giving Tuesday has inspired us to launch online Giving Circles, where you can join with others to learn about issues and then, as a group, fund nonprofits doing that work. It’s easy, social, fun and high-impact.

Contrary to what we may be told by the media, your story and my story are the ones that create global change. Giving Tuesday is a day to celebrate ordinary people funding extraordinary work. I mean that as the highest compliment. Let’s change how we talk about our impact. Let’s own it.

It’s time to disrupt philanthropy. Care to join me?

cw_picMelanie01_260As CEO and Founder of Catalytic Women, Melanie Hamburger is passionate about making giving accessible. She believes in the power of women’s financial influence, especially in bringing values to the way we use money. Her vision is to mobilize billions more dollars towards solving social issues by democratizing the way we give and inspiring people to give now, at any level.

Act Global: Tips for Next Gen Donors Looking to Volunteer Abroad

By Deborah Goldstein, principal, Enlightened Philanthropy

According to groundbreaking work by 21/64 and the Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University, I can be considered a member of Next Gen Donors. The research focuses on Gen X and Gen Y/Millenials ages 21-40 who will inherit $40 trillion in the coming years.

Like me, you may not be anticipating an inheritance. However, you might share some of the traits found among this cohort:

  1. Are you driven by values, not valuables? Next Gen Donors honor the legacy of their parents and grandparents in their giving, while exploring emerging tools and opportunities.
  2. Are you focused on impact? Next Gen Donors want to see an impact as a result of their philanthropy. They are focused on strategic philanthropy.
  3. Do you give your time, talent, treasure, and ties to causes you are passionate about? Next Gen Donors give at a much deeper level, a very engaged, hands-on level. And they’re willing to bring their network or ties to the table, too.
  4. Are you engaging in philanthropy now? Next Gen Donors are engaging in philanthropy NOW instead of waiting until later in life. In the process, they are crafting their philanthropic identity by engaging in ways that allow them to learn more by seeing and doing.

Hawksbill_Sea_Turtle_(Eretmochelys_imbricata)_(6161757878)In August 2013, I had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua for two weeks to work with two conservation organizations—the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative (or ICAPO-Iniciativa Carey del Pacifico Oriental), and Paso Pacifico. I have been passionate about sea turtle conservation for decades and was finally able to personally rescue sea turtle eggs for protection in a hatchery and release hatchlings safely into the ocean.

For those of us who are Next Gen, experiences like this are critical to our engagement with philanthropy. They help us understand the issues and craft our philanthropic identity in a way that merely writing a check cannot.

Have you been looking for a way to give back and have some fun too?

If so, I urge you to JUST DO IT!

Three Tips for Volunteers:

  1. This is NOT a vacation. The term volunteer “vacation” is a misnomer. You will be lending yourself to the organization to work. This doesn’t mean you won’t have a blast along the way, but you have to remember, you’re there for work and not play.
  2. Be open to how you’ll be helpful. I hadn’t imagined any type of work except for helping rescue turtles. So, when I was asked to put together a brochure that promotes ICAPO’s tours and volunteer opportunities, I realized I had the skills to help the organization in an unexpected way.
  3. Learn the language. When you’re in a remote part of the world, the likelihood of the locals speaking English is slim. While I’d brushed up on my Spanish prior to departure, I couldn’t speak at length with the locals who patrolled the beaches or managed the hatchery. This is one opportunity I feel I missed—being able to really connect with the people with whom I was interacting. Thank goodness for sign language and smiles and laughter AND translators!

By the end of my second week in Nicaragua, I felt fully immersed in the culture and its conservation issues. I left a more emboldened and passionate advocate than I had arrived. I left with the fulfillment of having traveled for a purpose—to learn more about a cause that is important to me and help conserve endangered species. And I left with a desire to travel more often with a purpose.

So, what are you going to do with your dream to help others? The ends of the earth really are your only limit!

1Deborah Goldstein is the principal of Enlightened Philanthropy and is dedicated to guiding the next generation in giving. She advises multi-generational families and youth as they explore the world of philanthropy. She is also a certified 21/64 trainer. More thoughts on her trip to Nicaragua can be found on her blog

Empowering Women: The Story No One Knows

gpi_reporters_at_work_2013By Suzanne Skees

San Jose, CA: Dusk settles early on an autumn evening this month. It descends slowly in layers of orange and purple over tree-lined office parks in Silicon Valley, where tech stars never sleep and the rest of us dream of getting by. Inside Cisco Systems Building #10, a small group gathers to talk about their efforts, both here and abroad, to end poverty by connecting women with education, healthcare, and jobs; small-business ownership, activist journalism, and political office.

“California has the highest poverty rate in the country,” proclaims a woman in her twenties. “It takes three full-time minimum-wage jobs for a single parent of two children just to get by in this state.”

1.4 billion people on this planet live in ultra poverty,” adds a man in his thirties. The group brings nonprofits and funders in a conversation hosted by Catalytic Women, a network of small- to high-net-worth changemakers working to “disrupt” philanthropy via crowdfunding, collaborating, and grassroots partnerships. “Studies have shown,” says Catalytic Women’s founder Melanie Hamburger, “that when you give women a chance they reinvest in education, family, and the community.”

You may have heard the statistics. You may have heard Hillary Clinton’s bold claim that empowering women is key to any country’s economic and military stability:

“There is a stimulative and ripple effect that kicks in when women have greater access to jobs and the economic lives of our countries: Greater political stability. Fewer military conflicts. More food. More educational opportunity for children,” Clinton said. “By harnessing the economic potential of all women, we boost opportunity for all people.”

Maybe you’ve hear of exciting projects led by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof (Half the Sky), Nike (The Girl Effect), Oprah and Angelina and Melinda: organizations and women of world-renowned power are reaching a hand back to pull humankind forward through gender equality and opportunity.

2What no one knows, though, is the story I got to hear from the back of the room in the Cisco cafeteria. As the sky grew thick and dark outside floor-to-ceiling windows and inside, fluorescent lights blared on five ordinary people who shared their extraordinary stories.

  • Cassie Chandler runs a healthcare program for 5.4 million microfinance clients in 24 countries for Freedom from Hunger. She’s seen whole communities change when women gain access to adult education, financial management, and family healthcare. She’s used to training local partners on the ground, particularly in Latin America—Cassie’s niche—but tonight, she talks about how Nandini in rural India transformed herself from a struggling small farmer who bought seeds through a loan shark, to a trained pharmacy vendor and village educator whom her neighbors trust enough to call “Dr. Mom.”
  • Kimberly Ellis works within a 14-state network to get more Democratic women elected into office via Emerge California. Having graduated from the program she now leads, Kimberly also serves as commissioner for community development in Richmond, CA. She believes many civic problems could be solved through balanced political gender representation (currently 25%), and that all families could benefit significantly through equal-pay salaries (currently ranging from 77 cents on the dollar to 64 cents for Black and 55 cents for Latina women). Simply put, she just wants parity. “If you don’t have a seat at the table,” Kimberly quips, “you’re probably on the menu.”
  • Steve Schwartz cofounded a nonprofit that creates jobs for ultra-poor women in India. “Handouts don’t work,” he says, “because what our clients want is long-term, sustainable, dignified employment. He says in just over two years, Upaya Social Ventures has helped three businesses (dairy farming, weaving, and domestic labor) create 506 jobs; and they’ve made a very public pledge at the Clinton Global Initiative to double their numbers in the next year. Steve served in the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa with his wife and walked the city slums and country paths in India with the women he now considers his reason for being. He shows a picture of an employee, Poonam, spinning thread from tussar silk. Poonam’s family tripled their income and jumped from one to three meals a day when she got her new—permanent—job. “Poonam learned the fine art of silk weaving from her grandmother, who learned it from her grandmother,” Steve tells us. “Now she’s got a reliable income stream at a fair wage.”
  • Brynne Speizer’s mission with Opportunity Fund is to connect California’s working poor with access to savings, loans, and business and financial training. Rattling off statistics on poverty and unemployment, she halts mid-sentence. “Doesn’t it make you mad?! It makes me mad, that in this beautiful place where we live, life is so hard for millions of families.” She talks about two clients who inspired her: Kiara, an East Palo Alto student who opened a savings account and socked away $6,000 to help realize her dream of attending Wesleyan College; and Tina, a restaurant owner famous for her barbecue who almost lost everything in the Great Recession. She took out a loan (average small business = $7,000) and is now cooking up a storm. “All these women need is access,” Brynne stresses.
  • Cristi Hegranes landed her dream job as an international journalist in Nepal, but it only took her two weeks to realize she was all wrong for the job. “Local women had everything I didn’t,” she said, “except access to a major publishing outlet.” She created the Global Press Institute to train and employ women to write quality investigative, activist features. Currently, Cristi manages 26 news bureaus and employs 135 women, and she’s building revenue by distributing their stories through such outlets as National Public Radio and Reuters. Cristi talks about Rwandan reporters Gloriose  and Noella, whose award-winning series on sexual predators has influenced new legislation there. Here with Cristi is one of her first employees (2009) and the embodiment of her ambition—Manori of Sri Lanka, who just got promoted from reporter to regional editor for Asia. “We’ve asked, and 98% of the women who’ve been through our training program report feeling empowered as a result.” And the percentage employed by GPI?—100.

1My family and I feel incredibly lucky to be the wind beneath the wings of 29 organizations working to create equal opportunity for all, in the U.S. and around the world. Join us by getting to know our world-changing partners at Skees Family Foundation. Whatever your gender, log onto Catalytic Women, join a local event or giving circle, and share your story. Let’s talk about what ordinary folks can do. And let’s take up more space and volume than the corner of a corporate cafeteria: Between us, we could have stories to fill a coliseum.

SuzanneSuzanne Skees works in international development as director of the Skees Family Foundation, which supports innovative self-help programs in the U.S. and 37 developing countries in education, enterprise, health, infrastructure, and peace.  Writing for online and print media, Skees shares stories of what can happen when students and survivors, entrepreneurs and families, receive tools they need to build a life of choice from such organizations as Dayton Christian Center,Dayton International Peace MuseumFreedom from Hunger, Jamii Bora, Karimu,PBMR Hub Center for Chicago Youth, Summer SearchThe Ihangane Project, The School Fund, Summer Search, Upaya Social VenturesV-Day, and Vittana.

Defying Expectations

Last month my organization, Global Press Institute (GPI), had the honor of being showcased at a Catalytic Women event on women’s economic empowerment. Something that Melanie said to the audience that night really struck me: everyone in the room could do something to make a difference. Everyone – no matter what your level of income or wealth – could be a philanthropist. sample-image-blogWhat really resonated with me about this message was its fundamental similarity to a lesson I learned in Nepal ten years ago.

After a few weeks in the country as a foreign correspondent, I realized I was the wrong person to be covering the Nepali civil war. I had just two things that “qualified” me to report on this country I knew so little about: a Master’s degree in journalism and a credible news platform. Yet the local women around me had everything else that I lacked in order to tell important, powerful stories: access, language, context, and trust.

When I met Pratima, the community matriarch of a small village in Eastern Nepal, I handed her my pen and asked her to write the story of her community. That moment was not only the birth of GPI, an organization dedicated to training and employing women in the developing world to report on their local communities. It was also an inspiring life lesson about how the roles we have come to expect for ourselves are often dramatically and silently dictated by the force of history – in other words, by the way things have been.

Isn’t it obvious that a local woman with knowledge of her community would be better poised to report on it than a foreigner parachuted in for a few weeks? And yet the entire model of international journalism has been built around the use of foreign correspondents.

Likewise, it is obvious that we do not need high-paying jobs or sizable fortunes in order to be thoughtful, generous, and impactful givers. Just because we have always thought of philanthropy as the purview of the wealthy doesn’t preclude us from making a difference with our resources.

If you wonder whether this is really possible, consider that each GPI news story (25% of which lead to demonstrable social impact, such as changing laws) costs on average between $100 and $200 to produce. We and other organizations are able to use modest donations to create significant impact on the world.

The lesson here is that we can access certain roles and opportunities in life, even if that means bucking the way things have traditionally been done. After all, if a former sex worker, or a member of the Dalit (“untouchable”) caste, or a woman with a fourth grade education, can become an award-winning professional journalist, then each of us can, in our own ways, become philanthropists.

cmhheadshotCristi Hegranes landed her dream job as an international journalist in Nepal, but it only took her two weeks to realize she was all wrong for the job. “Local women had everything I didn’t,” she said, “except access to a major publishing outlet.” She created the Global Press Institute to train and employ women to write quality investigative, professional features. Currently, Cristi manages 26 news bureaus and employs 135 women, and she’s building revenue by distributing their stories through such outlets as National Public Radio and Reuters. Cristi talks about Rwandan reporters Ritha Bumwe, whose article on sexual predators has influenced new legislation there. Here with Cristi is her first Sri Lankan employee (soon after their 2006 launch) and the embodiment of her ambition—Manori of Sri Lanka, who just got promoted from reporter to regional editor for Asia. “We’ve asked, and 98% of the women who’ve been through our training program report feeling empowered as a result.” And the percentage employed by GPI?—100. 

Women Who Create, Disrupt and Collaborate

collaborationwomen

Big problems require lots of people (and resources) looking for patterns of disruption. Yet traditional philanthropy tends to be risk averse. This can be a conundrum — one that women may be particularly well positioned to solve.

Women now own most wealth in the U.S. and make most giving decisions. I believe we can be a bit curious about investments with a social impact, new models for social impact and, especially, creativity and disruption. Evidently, I’m not alone.

I recently read two articles, both in the Harvard Business Review, on women challenging the status quo. Tara Mohr (entrepreneur, author and member of Catalytic Women) spoke about the challenges of “good girls” (Haven’t we all been, or wanted to be, at some time or another??) learning to be disruptive.

And what about Mukti Khaire’s new Harvard MBA course about Creative High-Impact Ventures profiling entrepreneurs who changed the world in six “culture industries”: fashion, publishing, art/architecture/design, film, music, and food. Perhaps social entrepreneurs have a lot in common with serial entrepreneurs, who must persist until they succeed.

entrepreneur200pct72ppi-thumb-580x293-2882

Collaboration plays into creativity and disruption in a big way. Khaire talks about the 4Cs. “Commentary influences Culture, which influences what we Consume, which is influenced by what is actually out there in the market [Commerce]. If you can shift one of these elements you can actually create a new market.” Her HBS colleague and author Amy Edmondson says “using thoughtful design to solve big problems in the world… I became interested in how people come together and work together to innovate, to problem-solve, to do better things.”

If you’re looking for ways to collaborate for social impact, here are a few ideas:

  • Be part of a collaborative event — let us create a panel on your favorite issue or organization, or come listen & learn.
  • Join the only nationwide network of women funding social impact at any level and to every issue area. It’s free.
  • Help financial advisors create the content that women want on leveraging their wealth, intellect and values.
  • Attend an upcoming event on social impact. (See the full calendar in our members’ only online library.)
  • Think like a serial entrepreneur and create disruptive change. Share your story of creating change. (Read some of our favorite articles on disruptive women, below.)
  • Read more ideas on collaborating

I’m looking forward to collaborating with you to innovate, problem-solve, create and disrupt.

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.

Double & Triple Bottom Line Philanthropy

Our October 2013 webinar discussion on Double/Triple Bottom Line Philanthropy explored emerging tools for high-leverage giving, answering: What are social venture philanthropy and impact  investing? Is microfinance a good use of my charitable dollars? Is there a role for a business-like approach that can maximize the return on my “investment” in philanthropy?

Many new tools for giving combine the best of business and philanthropy. Our discussion shared resources, trends and best practices in leveraging gifts to make the greatest impact on the issues you support. This brain candy allows me to revisit my corporate finance roots through a social benefit lens—I love talking about models that blend good business and good intentions.

In this conversation I got to tap the expertise of Catalytic Women members and advisors, and draw upon resources and best practices from our members-only library. View this practical discussion of how to make gifts that tap some of the highest return models of business to create significant impact in the world around us—and bring business tools to solving community issues. It also gives me a chance to realize my own vision for community change—by connecting smart women who are influential decision-makers in wealth and giving to the resources and information they need to feel confident and boldly move forward.

Talk about the best job in the world…

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.