This past week I received a newsletter from our friends at the Women’s Funding Network. Here’s what the lead story said:
Looking for the Real Deal this holiday season? Most of us are. We want something real, something valuable, beautiful, and we want the money we spend and the gifts we give to matter. Women’s Funding Network delivers the Real Deal.
Women’s funds democratize philanthropy. In the U.S., philanthropy was created as a tax incentive so those with means could receive tax deductions for helping those in need. Despite that ideal, 70-90% of tax-deductible gifts in the U.S. end up helping the middle class and the wealthy. Women’s Funding Network is the exact opposite because 80% of our members’ grants go to women living in poverty and those most affected by homelessness, violence and human rights abuses.
These investments result in empowerment for women who build out that progress in stronger families, better communities and hope for the world. That’s genuine philanthropy. We deliver the Real Deal.
It reminded me of a piece published by former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, a couple of months ago. In his blog post (which appeared also as an article in the LA Times, on NPR Marketplace, etc), he pretty much said that it would be more appropriate if only those charitable donations that address the issues connected to poverty received tax-deductibility benefits from the US government. He also goes on to discuss the importance of government funding for programs that give tools to lift people out of poverty…If you read the comments on the blog post you’ll see that he inspired quiet a lot of response – for and against.
Seems most realistic to work under the assumption that the issues that perpetuate poverty – in the US or anywhere in the world – can truly only be addressed with investment both from the “top down” (aka government, multi-lateral organizations, et. al) and from the “bottom up” (e.g., GlobalGiving, DonorsChoose, Kiva, Women’s Funding Network). Neither approach can do it alone, neither is unequivocally better or worse as far as efficacy. Here at GlobalGiving we’ve chosen to build a bottom-up tool, but the recent announcement that funding to the World Bank has increased substantially this round is great news too. (shout out to my former colleague Bob Zoellick!)
Regardless… Hats off to our partners at WFN, and other GlobalGiving partners around the world, who are “keepin it real.”