Women in the U.S. have always been agents of change, even when they had few officially recognized rights. In Colonial times, women tackled a host of issues, and showed themselves to be tireless workers. They built upon that in the 1800’s to become skilled fundraisers, passionate advocates, powerful leaders, dedicated volunteers, and irresistible forces for social change. Women of every ethnicity joined voluntary associations to raise money and especially to care for women, widows, and girls.
While times may have changed, women’s desire to make the world a better place has not, and today many women are putting their money behind their motivations. The Women’s Philanthropy Institute reports that, “In order to tackle challenges large and small, our world needs more strategic philanthropy. Women can lead this charge, harnessing their growing wealth and influence to create a more just, equitable, and healthy society.”
It’s easy to understand how women can be a powerful force driving change when you remember that women are responsible for 86% of household’s consumer purchasing decisions, now control 51% ($14 trillion) of personal wealth in the U.S., and are expected to control $22 trillion by 2020. As Fidelity Charitable points out, “Women today play a central role in philanthropy, leading charitable giving within their families, using their time and skills to advance causes within their communities, and embodying the purpose and heart that underpin philanthropic goals.”
Representing a new era of resources by and for women, Women Moving Millions (WMM) is accelerating progress toward a gender equal world by sharply focusing those investment goals with a gender lens. This community of 320 women is committed to organizations and initiatives benefiting women and girls, and using the power of our voice and influence to inspire and show how women can support women with their philanthropic influence. . Activities in today’s world shows us how leveraging collective strength, networks, and voices can illuminate issues we need to change to make our world a better home for us all.
The recent 2019 WMM Annual Summit in New York, themed “The Power of You,” explored the unique values and vision that each individual philanthropist can bring to the field and how together, we can create an opportunity for unparalleled systemic change. With the opportunity to critically hear from diverse changemakers and reflect on individual values and philanthropy with the needs of the greater movement, we looked at everything from “Building a Supermajority to Organize for Gender Equality” to “Supporting Women’s Movements for Peace, Justice, and Equality.” The topics were engaging, and the speakers diverse. It was an exciting gathering of women dedicated to equality and making change.
However, a summit isn’t the only way we can all come together and drive change. We’re perfectly positioned to become today’s and tomorrow’s leaders in philanthropy, in the workplace, and in the communities we call home. We can donate our time, treasure or talent to support women running for office. We can sponsor, mentor, or help a woman get her foot in the door at work. We can work together to close the pay gap, and to raise women and girls out of poverty. We can join forces to train, position, and elevate women to leadership positions. We can engage our male allies to work with us to build an environment where every person – regardless of gender – is valued, respected, and equally compensated. We can do all of this and more when we remember that we’re in this together.