WASHINGTON — Like poverty, philanthropy is being feminized.
Traditionally, white male graduates of elite Eastern schools ran nearly every grant-making foundation in the country that was big enough to have a paid staff. Overall they targeted less than 1% of their grants to organizations dedicated to serving women and girls, one study showed.
"Ten years ago philanthropy was almost exclusively an old boys' network," said Joanne Hayes of New York, executive director of Women and Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy, which was formed in 1977 to get more foundation and corporate grants for women's and girls' organizations and to get more women in careers in philanthropy.
Up in Last Decade
Today, Hayes estimates, women's and girls' organizations get between 3% and 5% of foundation and corporate grants, up from 0.6% in 1974-76 and more women are entering the field. Hayes said grants targeted to organizations serving men and boys in the mid-'70s were at least 10 times greater than grants for women's and girls organizations.
Hayes and others say that these changes result from women's groups pressing for grants, from women foundation trustees asserting themselves and from growing numbers of women breaking into foundation work as program officers and executives, although often at lower pay than men in similar positions earn.
Several hundred women with careers giving away other people's money gathered here this week to discuss their successes, how to channel more grants to women's and girls' organizations and how to get more power and money for themselves.
And high on their agenda is fighting the feminization of poverty by making grants to organizations that help women become economically self-sufficient.
"Changing funding priorities and bringing women up as policy makers in foundations and corporate giving programs are our twin goals," said Jing Lyman, who helped found Women and Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy, which members refer to as Women And. Lyman is a trustee of the Enterprise Foundation in New York and her husband, Richard, is president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Women And had its beginnings in 1975 when the Council on Foundations, which is holding its annual conference here this week, met in Chicago. Eleanor Peterson of the Chicago Donors Forum, an organization of Windy City grant makers, put a hand-lettered sign on a door at the hotel where the foundation executives were meeting. The sign read "Women Only."
Lyman said she later heard about Peterson's action to discuss funding women's and girls' organizations and about incidents that lead her to believe that "attitudes at the Council on Foundations were less than supportive of women and minorities." Lyman and others decided to seek changes at the council and to start an affinity group similar to the Assn. of Black Foundation Executives, which was founded in 1972.
"Women And made all of us assertive to a large degree because we knew there was an organization that supported our efforts and pointed the way to organizations and issues we could support," said Cecile Springer of Pittsburgh, the director of contributions and community affairs for Westinghouse Electric Corp. since 1979.
Alicia Philipp, Women And's board chairman, said that "having women making recommendations on grants has heightened awareness in the philanthropic community of women's and girls' organizations and their needs and made the boards of trustees, which approve grants and which are mostly male, understand that these organizations are not as risky as they had thought. A lot of men had it in their minds that these organizations were radical."
Philipp, who is also the executive director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation, which has grown from $6 million in assets to $60 million since her appointment eight years ago, said Women And has also arranged meetings between male foundation executives and trustees and leaders of women's and girls' nonprofit organizations to increase understanding.
"This is a long process," Philipp said. "They (men) aren't going to change their grant making overnight, but we are starting them on a new path."
Philipp said one of the most important recent developments is the agreement reached Tuesday by 37 representatives from 15 women's funds from around the country, including the newly formed Los Angeles Women's Foundation, to form a national coalition to press for more contributions and more foundation and corporate grants for women's and girls' organizations.
"Just five years ago there were no women's funds, but there will soon be about 20 of them," said Jill Shellow, an Urban Institute fund-raiser whose book, "Grant Seekers Guide: Funding Sourcebook," is being published today by Moyer Bell Ltd. in Mt. Kisco, N.Y.