How To Flip The Script On Philanthropy For Women And Girls Of Color
Published Date, 2023

How To Flip The Script On Philanthropy For Women And Girls Of Color

Created By: Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D., Kymberly Miller, and Bri Seoane, MPA
November 29, 2023

While philanthropy has long played a crucial role in addressing societal challenges and creating positive change, a transformative shift is needed to “flip the script” on philanthropy and move beyond the limitations of conventional approaches to a more inclusive, dynamic, and responsive model that empowers women and girls of color and the organizations dedicated to serving them.

Recognizing the work to be done, Orr Group recently gathered a diverse group of nonprofit leaders from across the San Francisco Bay Area to continue an ongoing conversation about the challenges, opportunities, and approaches for prioritizing women and girls of color (and the organizations that serve them) in philanthropy. Leaders around this table had much to share.

Attending organizations included Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, Children’s Fairyland, College Track, Girl Scouts of Northern California, Global Fund for Women, Homeless Prenatal Program, Juma Ventures, Oasis for Girls, Safe Passages, The Asia Foundation.

Our discussion was filled with diverse perspectives and problem-solving approaches, exchanges of very real, lived hardships as organizational leaders, and enlightening insights on the current and future state of equitable philanthropy. Below are several of these insights which stood out to us as drivers of this necessary change. 

Cultivating Equitable and Trust-based Partnerships.

Traditional philanthropy has often overlooked or underfunded organizations led by and serving women and girls of color. Transforming philanthropy involves cultivating equitable partnerships with these organizations, ensuring that their voices are heard, their expertise is valued, and trust is developed. By involving these groups in decision-making processes, funders gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced and develop more effective solutions that can be applied to communities well beyond those for whom the solutions were originally created.

Philanthropy as a Facilitator.

Flipping the script on philanthropy involves a shift from top-down approaches to community-led initiatives. Empowering local communities to identify their own needs and develop solutions fosters a sense of ownership and sustainability. Philanthropy can act as a facilitator, amplifying the voices of those directly impacted and supporting initiatives born from the ground up.

Flexible Funding Models.

Adopting flexible funding models is essential for organizations serving women and girls of color. These models should recognize the nuanced nature of the challenges these communities face and allow for flexibility in solutions. Multi-year funding commitments, for example, provide stability and enable organizations to develop capacity and strategically focus on long-term impact rather than short-term survival. Adaptive funding models based on established trust enable organizations to reallocate funds so that organizations can be responsive to changing community needs and resources can be used most effectively. Collaborative funding models encourage partnership across organizations by funding joint initiatives or projects that allow each organization to address women and girls of colors’ needs through complementary expertise and maximizing opportunities for collective impact. And, regardless of the model, funders should be mindful of not imposing excessive or outsized grant reporting requirements on smaller organizations or organizations with limited resources.

Expanding the Definition of Philanthropy.

Traditional philanthropy has been narrowly defined as the act of donating money to charitable causes. To truly flip the script, we must expand this definition to include a broader spectrum of people, communities, and resources. Time, expertise, mentorship, and networks are also incredibly valuable philanthropic contributions. Recognizing and embracing these diverse forms of philanthropy allows for a more inclusive and sustainable approach.

Embracing Innovation.

Philanthropy as we know it often shies away from risk, favoring established programs with proven track records. Changing this perspective encourages a willingness to embrace risk and innovation. This approach allows for the exploration of new, unconventional solutions and the adaptation of strategies based on real-time feedback, fostering agility and responsiveness and the ability to refine and learn from smaller programs that can be scaled.

Storytelling for Impact.

Beyond financial contributions, philanthropy can leverage the power of storytelling to raise awareness and drive change. Flipping the script in this way involves moving beyond impersonal statistics to humanize the challenges faced by women and girls of color. When women and girls of color share their stories, it creates empathy, inspires action, and challenges societal norms, catalyzing a more profound and sustained impact. Storytelling can also serve to illustrate and further the impact of the philanthropic sector and new approaches.

Flipping the script on philanthropy to prioritize the needs of girls and women of color is not only a matter of social justice but a strategic approach for creating a more vibrant, resilient, and inclusive society that benefits all of us. It recognizes the positive impact of investing in people, organizations, and communities that historically have been underinvested in, on the overall well-being of society.

Orr Group can help your organization build and drive effective philanthropy forward. Get in touch to understand how we can collaborate to design strategies for sustainable and impactful change.

Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D., is a Managing Director at Orr Group. Andrea is an applied developmental psychologist and thought leader with expertise in nonprofit strategy and leadership support, and has a strong background in utilizing data-driven insights to build partnerships and design mission-based solutions.

Kymberly Miller is the Executive Director of Children’s Fairyland. With over 15 years of experience in the sector, Kymberly has a proven track record of success in the support and development of experiences supporting children, families, and their networks.

Bri Seoane, MPA, is the Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts of Northern California. Bri brings over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, community development, fundraising, and program design and delivery, with a focus on serving families from diverse and underserved populations.

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