Washington Area Women's Foundation

Giving Out Loud!

Marjorie forwarded an article entitled “Women’s Philanthropy Group Goes Public with Causes; Menlo-based Network Enters Political Fray With Ad” that got me thinking; what is the difference between the power of philanthropy and the power of openly, PUBLICLY, using money?

The Women Donors Network (WDN), profiled in the article, decided to find out with a first-time public endeavor, a voting rights campaign characterized as “a national coming-out party” for the 175 women members who give a total of $100 million dollars a year. A party indeed!

These women know that voting, like giving, is a demonstration of one’s values, both acts speak to who we are and provide us each with a powerful way to shape the society we live in. They also know that both are often private acts. What makes this first-time foray for the WDN so striking is the collective decision of these women to publicly demonstrate the power of money. They are moving beyond a power of philanthropy, even the power of the purse and choosing to do it publicly, even OUT LOUD. Why?

We know the power of philanthropy; The Women’s Foundation has 101 stories of donors, grantee partners and clients whose lives have changed because of philanthropy.

We know the power of giving together; The Women’s Foundation is, in itself, a testimony to the difference giving together makes.

But the power of openly, publicly, using money?

How do we all talk about that?!

Philanthropy can be private and powerful. But what about philanthropy that is public and powerful? What do we, as women donors of all shapes, sizes and incomes, understand the difference to be? As individuals, the desire, indeed the need, to be anonymous can make sense. Going public is scary, uncomfortable, even threatening. But together, as a collective, as a shared voice, the public use of our money can say so much. Putting big money and names to our work can speak to what we share as women, what we want as women and the society we want to shape as women.

It is new territory, this public and powerful use of money, that is for sure, but like the frontiers of any new terrain, essential to exploring together.