Next week, an international group of women philanthropists representing millions of dollars in donations and pledges will convene on the Coastside to discuss how to best use their resources to empower women and girls.
Staff at the New York-based organization Women Moving Millions said they expect more than 150 people to attend the annual summit, held this year at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, on May 11 and 12. The private event is open only to members and invited guests.
Women Moving Millions members pledge to give $1 million or more over a 10-year-period to nonprofit causes that directly benefit women and girls. Individuals under the age of 35 and family members pooling their money can opt for memberships with smaller per-person commitments.
Summit agenda topics include innovation in philanthropy, addressing international humanitarian crises, and expanding access to reproductive health care, among others.
“It’s no secret that we’re seeing growing threats and attacks to women’s rights on a global scale,” the organization’s CEO, Sarah Haacke Byrd, said in an email. “We felt it was important to create a space dedicated to exploring how feminist philanthropy can best combat these regressions.”
The summit comes at a critical time for the feminist movement in America. Last week, more than a century after it was first proposed in Congress, a resolution to change the Constitution to prohibit sex-based discrimination failed in the Senate. Opponents argued that the proposed Equal Rights Amendment could be used to increase access to abortions, which have been banned in 14 states following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year.
At the same time, demographic changes are shifting money into the hands of women in what experts say is one of the largest wealth transfers in human history. The consulting firm McKinsey estimates that American women will control much of the $30 trillion in baby boomer financial assets by the end of this decade, as men of that generation begin to pass on and cede assets to their longer-living female spouses.
High-profile women philanthropists are already changing the conversation about how to donate and to whom. Mackenzie Scott, who became one of the wealthiest women in the world after her 2019 divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, stunned the philanthropy community when she announced she had given away billions of dollars in a decidedly non-traditional manner: quickly, quietly, with few strings attached, and in hefty sums earmarked for organizations that tackle systemic inequalities.
Stacey Keare is a Women Moving Millions board member, president of a foundation called Girls Rights Project and a Woodside resident. She said the concept of “trust-based philanthropy” is a major point of discussion for many philanthropists.
“Traditionally you have these big foundations with big applications, and it puts a lot of onus on the nonprofits to carry these relationships with the people funding their work,” said Keare. “There’s a movement now to find the people you trust in the communities doing the work. Then you make it as easy as possible for them by giving long-term funding and general support grants without the onerous reporting requirements.”
The topic is closely related to the conversation around “decolonizing” international aid, Keare said.
Addressing gender inequity on a global scale will require at least $6 billion in additional funding for feminist movements and organizations over the next three years, according to a report from The Bridgespan Group and Shake The Table.
Women Moving Millions has mobilized about $1 billion since its origins as a fundraising campaign in 2007, a spokesperson said, a number that includes already-distributed donations as well as pledges for gifts over the next decade.
Haacke Byrd said the organization is trying to hold itself to the same values it shares externally through actions like choosing summit speakers that come from underrepresented communities in philanthropy.
“We have to walk the talk,” she said.
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