Equity Funding Slowly Gaining Ground, Study Shows

Despite all of the headlines and chatter about equity funding, philanthropic support for organizations dedicated to women and girls still makes up a small fraction of overall charitable giving.

While there have been some gains, data in the report, “The Women & Girls Index: Measuring Giving To Women’s And Girls’ Causes,” shows that women’s and girls’ organizations made up 3.5% of registered charitable organizations and accounted for just 1.9% of overall charitable giving during 2018.

The data does not include charitable giving in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased acts of violence against individuals of Asian descent in 2020, both of which have disproportionately impacted women, according to the report’s authors at IUPUI Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Indianapolis, Ind.

This study updates information presented in the 2020 WGI report by providing new data for 2018, the most recent year for which more than 99% of finalized Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data on charitable organizations was available as of June 2021.

Philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations garnered $8 billion in 2018 and the share of giving increased slightly during the five-year period from 2014 to 2018, with the strongest year-over-year growth from 2017 to 2018, according to the authors.

The data shows that women’s and girls’ organizations are growing faster than other charitable organizations along financial measures such as revenue and expenses, indicating they are maturing as a nonprofit subsector. And while philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations increased across the board, particular types of organizations within this subsector, such as those focused on the environment (37.1%) and civil rights and advocacy (32.3%) showed strong year-over-year growth from 2017 to 2018.

In terms of cash, religion led the subsectors with $125.3 billion, followed by education at $58.9 billion. The closest to women’s and girls’ organizations of 10 subsectors tracked was environment and animals at $13.2 billion, which was ninth.

“In addition to an evolving funder landscape, the strategies funders have employed to invest in women and girls have also shifted in recent years. One of these changes includes a movement toward greater trust-based philanthropy,” according to the authors. Trust-based philanthropy was founded by The Whitman Institute, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, and the Headwaters Foundation in 2018, to formalize efforts to adopt such principles in the sector.

WPI has created a new website that contains a searchable database of WGI organizations, which can be accessed at www.womenandgirlsindex.org. To read the complete report, go to: https://bit.ly/3Bb3t4o