A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute explores patterns across more than 200 women’s foundations and funds, providing insight on a powerful and pioneering force in philanthropy dedicated to women and girls. While these grant-making organizations vary in terms of geography, assets and grant amounts, they align across a number of key areas, including funding the local community, an emphasis on education and economic empowerment, and participation in activities beyond funding to advance the causes they care about.
Based on an analysis of more than two hundred women's foundations and funds that award grants to programs and organizations benefiting women, the report, Women's Foundations and Funds: A Landscape Study (found that 71 percent were established between 1990 and 2010; 37 percent were standalone organizations while the rest were affiliates of a larger foundation or other organization; and only 8 percent were private foundations. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study also found that 44 percent of the standalone women's foundations and funds in the sample saw their assets increase between 2014 and 2016, while 14 percent saw their assets decline, and that their annual grantmaking ranged from $12,000 to $10.5 million.
"While women's foundations and funds are relatively young, these organizations excel at identifying the needs of women and girls locally, and in turn help create positive change in their communities," said lead researcher Elizabeth Gillespie, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska Omaha. "But aside from the 2009 Foundation Center and Women's Funding Network study, which is now ten years old, our understanding of these groups is quite limited. The goal of this new research is to fill that gap, and to demonstrate how women's foundations and funds create impact — so they can continue to do so for years to come."