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Key findings about the goals and impacts of women's foundations and funds

By Suzanne Coffman
December 26, 2019

Earlier this month, the Women's Philanthropy Institute (WPI) released Change Agents: The Goals and Impact of Women’s Foundations and FundsThe report examines how these organizations set goals, measure impact, and act to advance women.

The report findings are based on a nationwide survey of 183 women’s funds supplemented by interviews with 15 organizational leaders. The report presents five key findings based on this information.

Finding 1: Women’s funds share the broad goal of advancing women’s philanthropy; their specific objectives, and the ways in which they pursue them, vary widely

Respondents identified 18 goals for their respective organizations, plus "Other." The top 3 were:

  • Advance women's philanthropy (63 percent)
  • Educate others (61 percent)
  • Advance women economically (61 percent)

Finding 2: Women’s funds define impact in different ways, and have been most successful at achieving short-term objectives through empowerment and community-based change

Participants defined 11 types of impact their organizations had made. The top three were:

  • Empowered women and girls (74 percent)
  • Achieved short-term objectives (74 percent)
  • Supported successful programs (72 percent)

Finding 3: Women’s funds pursue their organizational goals through multiple grantmaking approaches, like gender-lens and community-based philanthropy, designed to elevate their impact

More than half of the organizations practice gender-lens or community-based philanthropy.

Finding 4: Many women’s funds go beyond grantmaking to achieve impact, engaging in activities such as relationship building, partnerships, and policy advocacy to pursue broader social change

Some 85 percent of the organizations engaged in non-grantmaking activities as well as grantmaking to advance women and girls.

Finding 5: Women’s funds demonstrate intersectionality in their pursuit of goals and impact, using different lenses and voices in decision making

Many of the organizations make grants to programs that serve specific groups of women and girls. They may identify these groups by race or ethnicity, age, economic status, and location, or a combination of these and other characteristics.

The vast majority of the organizations also address multiple issues affecting women and girls, support programs that serve more than one population group, and involve people with different perspectives in their grantmaking.

Learn more

You can download Change Agents: The Goals and Impact of Women's Foundations and Funds for free from the Women's Philanthropy Institute website.

Download the report

Tags: Equity