Connected Giving | July 2019 edition

Welcome to the July edition of Connected Giving, Australian Executor Trustees monthly update on current trends and news in philanthropy.

A new financial year and women in philanthropy

As the financial year 2019 ended, we saw a spike in philanthropic donations as well as the establishment of private foundations or donor advised funds. There has also been much news coverage about several significant gifts made recently – and the focus of this philanthropic investment via a ‘gender lens’.

In this edition, we explore what this means for major donors, not-for-profit organisations and the communities impacted. We finish this edition with a reminder about the pitfalls for those ‘giving big’. Interestingly the same principles apply to those actively engaging with philanthropy at all levels.

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Jump to any one of the edition’s articles by clicking the links below:

Investing in women and girls

Women’s foundations and funds are a strong force in philanthropy and giving from these organisations is substantial. The new report ‘Women’s Foundations and Funds: A Landscape Study’ helps to fill a large gap in research about these grant-making organisations. The report explores patterns across more than 200 women’s foundations and funds, demonstrating how these organisations create positive change for broader communities through investing in women and children. Read the full article (3 mins).

Melinda Gates wants not-for-profits and foundations to put more emphasis on women

Bill and Melinda Gates created their philanthropy in 2000, but in the early years of the organisation, we rarely heard from Melinda, despite her having a larger part in running the project than Bill. In her new book, ‘The Moment of Lift’, she writes about realising the best way to advance philanthropy’s mission was to speak out about crucial issues. In her interview with The Chronicle, Gates message is abundantly clear; take women donors seriously, and listen. Read the full article and interview (10 mins).

MacKenzie Bezos’s $17 billion pledge tops a growing list of women giving big

MacKenzie Bezos’s pledge to give away half her wealth came with a declaration that she has “a disproportionate amount of money to share”. Some of today’s biggest female givers still tend to be overshadowed by their corporate-leader husbands. Although the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has always been promoted as a joint venture, it wasn’t until the publication of Melinda Gates’ book about her leadership role gained worldwide prominence. Similarly, Priscilla Chan, the physician married to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the one running the couple’s initiative. Some of the biggest female givers have also been women of colour, affirming research that women of equal means generally give more than their male counterparts regardless of race and ethnicity. Read the full article (9 mins).

Not one single country to achieve gender equality by 2030

The first ever index measuring efforts to end gender inequality finds countries are not doing enough to improve women’s lives. The index is based on a set of internationally agreed targets. Even the higher scoring nations will have a difficult time fulfilling gender commitments made in the 17 sustainable development goals, which are the blueprint for the global effort to end poverty and inequality. The deadline for these to be met is 2030. The SDG Gender Index is developed by the Equal Measures 2030 partnership. Women’s underrepresentation in parliament, the gender pay gap and gender-based violence were among the areas all countries were struggling to tackle. Read the full article (8 mins).

Mistakes MacKenzie Bezos and other mega-donors should avoid

MacKenzie Bezos has recently announced that she has committed to signing the Giving Pledge, to dedicate at least half of her $35 billion in net worth to philanthropy. While this is an impressive pledge, many mega-donors fall into traps of thinking that money is an easy solution. In a recently published study, it becomes apparent that there is a need for humility, a long-term focus on the social problem, accurate performance measures, a wider network and community of philanthropists are all necessary for creating philanthropy that has an impact. Giving is uniquely challenging, and after so many examples of giving that doesn’t work, this new generation of givers hold the greatest hope yet. Read the full article (4 mins).

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