March 6, 2024

Inspiring Inclusion in Philanthropy This International Women’s Day

Author Natalie Pinon, Senior Director of Development

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a prominent UN-backed day of action, taking place on 8th March every year. This IWD, we are encouraged to help #InspireInclusion and forge a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.

So, how is the philanthropic sector playing a role in forging that world?

Women employing their wealth to help those in need is nothing new. Regardless of personal background, women have supported their communities and deserving causes throughout history. Whether through giving money, food, time or organisational skills, women have always given. Historically, however, philanthropy has been a domain largely influenced by men – especially in terms of major gifts and leadership – due to gender inequity.

The rise in female philanthropy in recent years has marked a shift in the landscape of charitable giving and social investment. As women have gained leadership positions across various sectors and increased economic power, their impact on philanthropy has kept pace. Today, the scale and innovation of female philanthropy is firmly in the spotlight. Prominent female philanthropists like MacKenzie Scott, Priscilla Chan and Melinda French Gates are spearheading incredible philanthropic initiatives, unprecedented in scale and in the novelty of their approach. Open-ended giving, trust-based philanthropy and diversified leadership teams are just some examples of progress being driven forward by female philanthropists.

Broadly speaking, female philanthropists’ methods and motives for giving tend to differ from their male counterparts. Experts in the philanthropic sector have noted that many female philanthropists are more likely to value community and collaboration, seeking to work with others to catalyse their impact. As such, many see themselves as part of a larger movement for social change rather than acting in isolation. The global donor collaborative, Women Moving Millions, for example, acts as a platform for collective action, with over 330 members all sharing resources. Additionally, the rise of social media and digital platforms has made it easier for women to organise, fundraise, and spread awareness about causes they care about, democratizing philanthropy further.

Evidence also suggests female philanthropists tend to focus on causes that traditionally receive less attention and, therefore, less funding. This giving philosophy has brought a greater focus on charities that support women’s issues and gender equality. For instance, the Women’s Funding Network has over 100 member organisations supporting gender equality projects.

The future of female philanthropy looks bright and increasingly influential. Women are set to inherit a significant portion of the world’s wealth over the next few decades. Additionally, more than 60% of the UK’s wealth is expected to be in the hands of women by 2025. As initiatives, networks and opportunities aimed specifically at supporting female philanthropists continue to emerge, more women will have the tools and knowledge to both maximise their charitable giving interests and leverage their own valuable perspectives. The rise in female philanthropy is reshaping the philanthropic sector, tilting it towards a more inclusive and collaborative environment, and playing a role in creating a more equitable world.

About the Author

Natalie Pinon is Senior Director of Development at NPT UK. She has over 15 years of experience working with philanthropists and impact investors to manage their giving.