Philanthropy’s Most Powerful Women 2017

In 2017, we saw the power of women grow in society like never before, and their influence in philanthropy continued to increase simultaneously. The following four women were standouts in the philanthropy community.

Melinda Gates, Co-Founder,  Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Forbes writes that Gates continues her run as the most powerful woman in philanthropy as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her laser focus on health is having a real impact as she showed in the foundation’s first “Goalkeepers” report which presented hard metrics behind the giving. Maternal deaths in Ethiopia are down 57% since 1990 thanks, in part, to foundation efforts to get more mothers to give birth in health care facilities.

Alexandra Cohen, Co-Founder, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation

Alex is the wife of the controversial hedge funder Steve Cohen, who commands one of the largest fortunes in finance. The Cohens focus mainly on healthcare and education, with the arts as another major interest. All signs point to continued increases. Forbes explains that while the couple is quite private, Alex is a key figure in their giving, with a backstory that helps explain why: She grew up in a low-income New York neighborhood.

Jennifer Buffett, Co-Founder, The NoVo Foundation

According to Inside Philanthropy, The NoVo Foundation that Jennifer Buffett leads may not rank among the largest foundations in the U.S., but it is one of the biggest family foundations led by a woman and it gives at a very substantial level: $56.7 million in grants in 2012 alone. And it’s only up from there, given that Warren Buffett has pledged shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock to NoVo that will ultimately total several billion dollars.

Eliza Manningham-Buller, Chair, The Wellcome Trust

Established in 1936 at the behest of pharmaceutical entrepreneur Henry Wellcome, the Wellcome Trust is now one of the biggest medical trusts in the world. The trust continues to tackle the globe’s biggest health problems, including working on a vaccine for Ebola and a potential cure for three tropical diseases. The trust announced that it’ll donate over $1 billion in 2017-18.

Female heads of nonprofits usually make less than their male counterparts. GuideStar’s 2017 Nonprofit Compensation Report found that male CEOs make 21% more than female CEOs of organizations with budgets of $50 million or more. With that in mind, it is even more important to acknowledge Melinda Gates, Alexandra Cohen, Jennifer Buffett and Eliza Manningham-Buller as 2017’s most powerful women philanthropists.

Seven Strategic Philanthropy Lessons

Although mission-based philanthropy is highly individualized, there are some broadly applicable lessons. The following seven strategic philanthropy lessons, followed correctly, will be a recipe for success in your philanthropic adventure.

1. Align Investments with Mission

Nearly $1 trillion currently sits in foundations and donor-advised funds. This money is committed to charitable missions, has received a tax deduction and can’t be returned. Each year, just 5 to 20 percent of that amount is distributed to nonprofits. The rest is usually invested for the single bottom line of financial growth.

2. Go Deep, Not Large

Donors and beneficiaries alike reward donors when they focus deeply on a scaled-down selection of meticulously chosen key concerns or will cause. Wealth Management.com explains that impact investing that uses mission-related investing, program-related investments and socially responsible investing tools can help you achieve much more bang for your philanthropic buck.

3. In Decision-making, Use Two Lenses

The Denver Post suggests that when setting philanthropic goals, donors should look through two lenses. The external lens helps us answer the question, “What are we hoping to accomplish for our community, country or world?” The internal lens helps us answer, “What am I hoping to achieve for my family, business or self by donating hard-earned money and precious time to charity?” Both questions are important. Your answers inform an effective strategy to achieve both internal and external goals through philanthropy.

4. Create a “Safe Zone” for Family Philanthropy

In most cases, philanthropy represents a small fraction of a family’s assets. Bruce Debosky recommends that you create a separate table for consideration of these assets, and invite all members of the family to sit there as equals. This is a key step toward creating a “safe zone” for improved communication about philanthropy, which can lead to more engagement, enhanced family dynamics and greater impact.

5. Give Boldly and Take Risks

People rarely donate so much to charity that they can no longer provide for themselves or their loved ones. Yet many of us can give far more than we do. Your financial advisor can help determine what you can really afford to give, and then give boldly. Taking calculated risks with grant making may be the only way to find new solutions to old problems.

6. Engage Other Stakeholders

Business stakeholders can include employees, directors, shareholders, customers, vendors, regulators, lenders and community leaders. Each stakeholder offers a different and valuable perspective on the role of the company in the community. This tactic enhances internal and external effectiveness.

7. Give While You Live

When you give while you live, you can learn about and experience the internal and external impacts of your philanthropy in real time!

Philanthropy, done well, is a powerful tool that adds joy and purpose to life and enhances business success. Follow these seven strategic philanthropy lessons and you will make the most of your philanthropic experience!

How Corporate Funders Are Stepping Up for Puerto Rico

According to Triple Pundit, after three hurricanes that have disrupted thousands of lives and generated billions of dollars in damage over the past month, many Puerto Ricans feel ignored. The military, various federal agencies, and disaster relief organizations are working to evacuate residents, distribute aid and repair damaged power grids in Puerto Rico. But private U.S. companies, including  Google, Facebook and other Silicon Valley powerhouses, are also stepping up to offer support and crucial services.

Google

CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company and its employees are planning to raise one million dollars in donations to various relief organizations including the Red Cross, World Food Program and UNICEF, to help residents of Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands get back on its feet.

Starbucks

The coffee retailer, which employs hundreds of Puerto Ricans, has pledged $250,000 for disaster recovery efforts for the island. The company has also allowed customers to make donations through its smartphone app to benefit the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Facebook

Fortune.com writes that Facebook is donating $1.5 million to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, with the money to be split between the World Food Program and Net Hope. Facebook also sent a “connectivity team” to Puerto Rico with emergency telecommunications support.

Apple

Apple announced that the tech giant’s “community” (which includes the company’s employees as well as customers who donate directly through the Apple App Store and iTunes) has provided more than $13 million to hurricane relief efforts in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean, including over one million dollars for Puerto Rico.

Airbnb

The room-sharing startup has been working to provide housing for thousands of people who have been displaced by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now Maria over the past month. Airbnb’s website offers options for users in need of shelter in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, while also providing ways for people with available housing to offer space to those who have been displaced.

Some businesses are lending a hand by providing services and donations, like food and supplies.  AT&T and T-Mobile are waiving cell phone charges to those in impacted areas. Western Union will offer free money transfers to Puerto Rico from the mainland U.S. as soon as the network on the island is stable. While PR residents may feel disappointed in the mainland’s support during this horrible time, corporate funders are stepping up with donations of not only the monetary kind but physical donations as well.

Following Your Donor Dollars: How the Money You Donate is Spent

Something catastrophic happens in the world and your first reaction is to want to help by whatever means you can. Most often, this means donating money to a relief fund or nonprofit organization so that front line work can happen at the location of the tragedy. Once the dollars leave your plastic card in your wallet, do you know exactly where they go? The truth is, there’s a lot more to the path than a direct flight from your pocket to the scene of the disaster.

Separating Emotion from Thought

Sometimes it can be difficult to separate thinking from emotion during traumatic times. People most often relate to others in hard times through sympathy and empathy, which are not tied to cerebral brain function. Conversely, investing money has lots to do with practical thought. Before you donate, do your best to take a second for critical analysis of whichever charity or vessel your money will travel through to get to the people who need it. “Is this organization healthy and functional? Does their mission resonate with me on a deep level?” If both of these questions are answered with the affirmative, proceed to donate your heart out.

Undesignated Funds for the Win

Pro tip: If given the option, let your donation stay undesignated rather than choosing a specific job for it. For example, if there are multiple projects as options for donating and another pool that says the foundation can do as they see fit with the money, choose the latter. By entrusting your donation to the organization, they can direct it toward whichever program is in the highest demand at that moment. Allowing this freedom means that your dollar will go as far as it possibly can.

Advantages to Donating Money vs. Supplies

Once the organization receives your money, it is turned into a grant and utilized for project purposes. Often, especially if you allowed your donation to stay unrestricted, your dollar goes a lot further than it would if you had spent it and donated physical supplies. Nonprofits and charities often get special discounts at stores that allow them to purchase much needed supplies cheaply in bulk so that they can be re-packaged and distributed to people that need them.

Thanks to people like you, victims of tragedies can get the support they need following an unfortunate event. By understanding the process of donation, you maximize your contribution.

The Most Influential Nonprofit Organizations

In the wake of the natural disasters that have occurred over the last few months, nonprofit organizations are important. These organizations strive to make an impact by helping people. If you are looking to donate your time or finances, here is a look at the top nonprofit organizations in the World.

National 4H Council

4H is one of the most historic land grant universities in the World. 4H has a large mentoring and development organization. National 4H Council emphasizes public service and strives to help out communities. The National 4H Council has positively impacted millions of young people through its large network of volunteers.

PBS

The Public Broadcasting Services have reached multiple generations of people through their intriguing, high quality programs. PBS hopes to positively influence people regardless of their gender, socioeconomic status, or race. The famous home of Reading Rainbow, Barney, and Sesame Street, PBS Kids is available to everyone free of charge.

TED

The Technology, Education, and Design nonprofit organization was founded by Richard Wurmah. TED was originally a conference for people who wanted to establish new relationships. Today, TED strives to increase awareness about commerce, innovation, and society.

The Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation is made up of many volunteer organized projects that strive to help communities. The Rotary Club is actively backed by more than a million people. The Rotary Foundation uses their funds to create grants that start neighborhood cleanups, among other initiatives.

United Nations Children’s Fund

UNICEF is committed to the health of every child in the World. UNICEF strives to make sure that every child receives the proper education and nutrition. The organization sets aside billions of dollars to go towards medical supplies and services to make sure that every child receives the necessary vaccines.

Human Rights Watch

The Human Rights Watch is made up of hundreds of lawyers, journalists, and other experts around the World who investigate information about the global outlook. The Human Rights Watch issues multiple reports and briefings throughout the year. The Human Rights Watch works with different financial institutions, government officials, and corporations.

Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is one of the most famous environmental organizations in The World. The Sierra Club promotes clean energy, and has helped pass the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.