Recently, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute released our second annual report on the Women & Girls Index (WGI). It’s the only comprehensive index that measures charitable giving to women’s and girls’ causes in the United States. This year’s report offers the first multi-year look at how philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations has changed in recent years (2012-2017).

The report found that giving to women’s and girls’ organizations from individuals, foundations, and corporations grew from $6.3 billion in 2016 to $7.1 billion in 2017, the most recent year that final IRS data is available. Since total charitable giving grew as well, the share of funding for women’s and girls’ organizations remains relatively small: 1.6%.

Women’s and girls’ causes have received increased public attention in recent years — particularly in the aftermath of the 2016 election — and there appears to be growing consensus on the value of investing in women and girls. But the WGI suggests that charitable giving may not be keeping pace with growing public awareness of and media attention on these issues.

One interviewee, Melissa Schwartz, Chief Development Officer of NARAL Pro-Choice America, attributed the spike in individual donations to many factors, including current donors deepening their engagement and new donors awakening to a need. She explained that “a lot of guys started stepping up and saying, ‘This is my issue too.’”

By and large, though, it’s fair to say there is significant room for growth when it comes to funding women’s and girls’ organizations. The need to support these causes has truly never been greater. A New York Times article argues that the pandemic will take women 10 years back in the workplace. Women of color have been hit hardest by joblessness. Domestic violence has increased, as have the risks to women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health.

As we grapple with these challenges, philanthropy can help unlock and accelerate solutions to better serve women and girls. How can we kickstart more funding for these causes? How can we inspire donors to deepen their commitment and engagement, while also bringing new donors — including men — into the fold?

Personally, I’m deeply encouraged by bold philanthropic initiatives like the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, which is awarding $40 million for big ideas to expand women’s power and influence; the Women Moving Millions’ #GetEqual campaign, which is committed to raising $100 million for women and girls by 2022; and the Black Girl Freedom Fund, which is raising $1 billion by 2030 to support Black girls and young women.

Read the full article about giving to women’s and girls’ organizations by Jeannie Infante Sager at LinkedIn.