1. What is your earliest memory of philanthropy?
As a child of immigrants, my earliest memories of philanthropy are of my parents supporting family in the Philippines – helping nieces and nephews with their education, sending clothes and shoes that my brother and I had outgrown and providing small loans to family and friends. This type of generosity might be considered informal in the philanthropic vernacular, but these actions are what I first understood as giving and a common philanthropic memory shared by most first-generation Americans.
2. Why is women’s giving so important?
At the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, our research shows that women are more likely to give and that women give differently. Women around the world are more influential than ever before and are using their influence to catalyze social change. Philanthropy is complex and influenced by many factors, including income, wealth and education. Today women have more of all three – further empowering them to exert change through their giving. Philanthropy is not gender-neutral; greater understanding of how gender influences giving will help unlock a new era of generosity and ultimately drive more giving by all.
3. How have women philanthropists responded to COVID-19?
The pandemic has upended every aspect of our lives, philanthropy included. Women in particular may be feeling the effects of COVID-19 on their giving. As WPI research has shown, women are typically more likely to give than men. It appears that the circumstances of this crisis – which disproportionately affect women economically and disrupt the ability to network and connect – may be putting a strain on their giving. Nonetheless, women have responded both in traditional, as well as new and expansive, ways.
Early in the pandemic, high-profile public personalities stepped up. Rihanna’s charitable organization, the Clara Lionel Foundation, committed $5 million to support the global fight against the novel coronavirus. Dolly Parton made a $1 million gift to Vanderbilt University to fund research on a cure for the virus and encouraged others to join her in making donations.
At WPI, we know that women like to give together, as demonstrated by the proliferation of giving circles and giving networks for women in the U.S. and around the world. Giving circles in particular have been frontline responders in addressing the pandemic in their local communities. For example, the New York Women’s Foundation gave $1 million for women and families impacted by COVID-19 through its 2020 Resilience-NYC: COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Collective giving networks have also been actively sharing lessons and experiences with each other, such as encouraging fast-tracking grant timelines, launching local response funds, supporting members within their networks and adopting the trust-based philanthropy pledge.