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2016 Women & leadership Forum

The Emerging Face of 21st Century Philanthropy

AAWGT's Women & Leadership Forum on Sunday, March 13 exemplified our commitment to educate our members about issues that will help us all become better informed decision-makers when targeting our grant dollars and more effective and engaged philanthropists in our own lives.  With so much happening in philanthropy today – e.g., the new strategies and vehicles for giving that are now widely available, the new ways to engage donors personally and meaningfully, and the mega-dollars that are anticipated to flow into the sector – this Forum was focused on educating us about The Emerging Face of 21st Century Philanthropy.

To help us begin to understand all of this, we brought together four philanthropic leaders: Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, BBS Consultants, Baltimore; Valaida Fullwood, founding member of New Generation of African American Philanthropists, Charlotte, NC; Jennifer Pryce, President and CEO of the Calvert Foundation, Bethesda; and (moderator) Lisa Hillman, Senior Consultant to Due East Partners, Annapolis. 

 “Female, focused, and fearless” were the words chosen to open our discussion on the future of philanthropy.  Beginning with a lively discussion on giving circles, the clear message was that giving circles are here to stay and have a very bright future, indeed!  More and more women in hundreds of giving circles around the country are being called to use their heads, hearts, and hands to support their communities and each other. This is happening against the backdrop of the greatest wealth transfer in history, with over $8 trillion in assets anticipated to be transferred into the philanthropic sector by baby boomers over the next 20 years.  As women continue to move into unprecedented levels of influence on where and how philanthropic dollars are spent, their impact on the future of philanthropy will be huge.

The panelists explored some of the distinct approaches women are taking to philanthropy. In addition to providing philanthropic dollars, they delve deeply into learning about issues, seek opportunities to volunteer in organizations working to ameliorate problems, and join with other women to pull together all the resources at their disposal. They often take more time than their male counterparts in making decisions about what they will support and how, but once they sign on to a cause or organization, they usually stay involved over the long haul.  One panelist characterized this as “giving aligned with the soul.” 

Moving on, the panel explored two other emerging trends that are impacting both donors and non-profits in the 21st century.  

  • The use of technology as a vehicle for giving (e.g., online donations, crowdfunding, Facebook, etc) and as a vehicle for engaging potential donors in their “stories” (e.g., Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat ). Non-profits were encouraged to invest in these social media platforms and ensure that their marketing and communications capabilities are fully utilized and mobile-enabled.
  • The emergence of giving initiatives such as Impact Investing, aligning social change with investment strategies. The Calvert Foundation, with $.5 billion invested globally in social change, is one such example.  

The discussion then moved on to a very exciting evolution in 21st Century Philanthropy: its egalitarianism.  The 20th Century model (“rich, old, white-haired men”) is not the model for this century.  Citing intentional efforts to significantly expand the diversity and definition of today’s giving, panelists discussed how one’s time, talents, and dollars have all become part of the now-broader definition of philanthropy.  Social media has enabled anyone to reach across the miles and have major impact . Giving circles have become vehicles for individuals to invest locally and significantly. And today, everyone can be a philanthropist!

As discussion closed, panelists were invited to share some of their personal thoughts about giving.  Here’s some of what they said:

  • Know yourself, reflect on what’s important to you, focus on what kind of change you’re seeking
  • Today’s social problems are complex and we need everyone at the table thinking together
  • Don’t forget about the need for investments in systems change 
  • Learn about the issues - what needs doing in your community or somewhere else
  • Become adept at storytelling - blend data and passion
  • Bring new, young, different voices to the conversation and decision-making

Final comments focused on the need for all kinds of philanthropic ventures going forward; the importance of accountability in giving and spending; and the bright future of women’s giving to improve the world. Here’s to those thoughts! 

If you were not able to attend, you can see the entire event on YouTube here!

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If you were not able to attend, you can see the entire event on YouTube here!

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