Giving Compass' Take:

• Tim Lehnert explains how women are using philanthropy to accelerate social change. 

• What female-focused efforts exist in your area? How can female funders help to elevate issues that have been ignored? 

• Learn how one female philanthropist is leading the change for lipedema research

“Major societal change happens through major institutions,” says Martha A. Taylor, women’s philanthropy pioneer and Vice President of the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

That maxim applies to the corporate, political and non-profit spheres. “When you sit in a boardroom where hundreds of millions of dollars are raised, that gives you real power and ability to impact society,” says Taylor, who notes that prior to the women’s movement, women’s leverage was applied from outside the power structure. “Now women can exert our leadership from within as well,” she says, “Where real change takes place.”

Higher education has changed dramatically since the early 90s, and women are starting to attain more positions in leadership. Taylor celebrates that the top three administrators at UW-Madison are women and that the leadership of the University’s current capital campaign is half female.

Women approach giving differently than men says Taylor, noting that today women often give to higher education because of its potential for personal and social transformation. They engage differently than men and desire small group participation versus one-on-one visits by development officers. They are not nostalgic for the good old days; rather, they want to foster opportunities for the next generation. There had been women philanthropists for generations, but as far as conceptualizing the field, and seeing female donors as an entity distinct from men worthy of study and cultivation, Taylor and Shaw-Hardy were on the ground floor.

Taylor has seen many changes over the last 40 years in women’s philanthropy. For starters, women are giving much more than previously. This is because they have physical and psychological control of more money than was the case years ago, and are increasingly the primary decision makers concerning philanthropy in the family.

Read the full article about the accelerating social change for women by Tim Lehnert at Philanthropy Women.