Women Are Changing Philanthropy - Women's Foundation California

By Joy Picus

Women’s philanthropy has become one of the major commitments in my life.  I read about it, speak on it and allow it to occupy my thoughts—a lot!

About 15 or so years ago, I was asked by a representative of the Women’s Philanthropy Council (WPC) of the University of Wisconsin Foundation if I would serve as president. Yes, I was an alumna of the University of Wisconsin, and had been actively involved with the Foundation, but, “I know nothing of women’s philanthropy,” I protested.  The representative said that could be quickly remedied.

In fact, the Women’s Philanthropy Council had convinced the Foundation to accept the President of the WPC as a board member of the Foundation for a 3 year term, and they wanted me to be that person.  My ability to work with the “old boys” trumped my lack of knowledge of women’s philanthropy.

I rose to the challenge, and spent an exciting 3 years in that position.  I learned that women give money for different reasons than men.  I learned that many institutions and organizations don’t realize that, and so they overlook women’s giving potential by directing their appeals to men.  I’ve noticed, over these years, that fund raisers are waking up to the power of women’s giving and are challenging old assumptions. See stats on women’s giving here.

Equally important, women are not only increasing their giving but targeting their contributions to the causes that really matter to them.  Organizations that support women and girls are no longer overlooked and underfunded.  Philanthropy is changing!

What about you? How are you engaged in women’s philanthropy?

Read other stories of women’s philanthropy:

Joy Picus represented the West San Fernando Valley as a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1977 to 1993. Her major public policy achievements were in the fields of garbage and hazardous waste, dependent care and the creation of a “family friendly” city. She has spoken on philanthropy and been a panelist at forums and seminars on the west coast, and throughout the country.

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