News from Special-Interest Groups of the Council on Foundations
EGA's State of the State-Level
Dick Mark, environmental program director at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, says, "The purpose of the conference was an educational one-to help funders understand activity between national and state levels. State environmental-related offices are tremendously lobbied by special-interest groups and often have access only to biased information. We presented models at the conference of coordinated efforts between groups working at the state and national levels."
Catherine Lerza, acting executive director of the Beldon Fund, says, "The way to build activism is different in Idaho than in Ohio, for instance, and that has to be reflected in our grantmaking. Capacity-building is really critical at the state level-without a strong base of public support we will not win environmental battles."
EGA has a tradition of holding a national policy meeting every other year on the odd-numbered years, and now they expect to continue having conferences on state-level activities in the even-numbered years.
Women & Philanthropy & Passion
Data show that women represent 66 percent of the foundation professional workforce, yet less than 6 percent of grants goes to programs exclusively for women and girls. To determine what women need to be effective grantmakers and leaders for the profession, among other things, Women & Philanthropy surveyed members about their aspirations, career pathways and the glass ceilings they've hit, as well as about their organizations' funding for women and girls.
With a 50 percent return, says Women & Philanthropy's President Felicia Lynch, survey results are a "pretty good window" on women and grantmaking. Even though the survey was sent out on both disk and paper, most choose to respond by writing on paper. On some of the questions that required reflection, respondents kept writing and writing and writing.
Most remarkable was the response to the section asking to "tell about your personal passions and how they fit into your life in philanthropy." Respondents wrote along the margins of the questionnaire, and also on the back. A few replied, "No one has ever asked me about my passion."
Lynch says, "While some of that response spoke to the increase in spirituality in the country in general, it shows there's extraordinary passion about what women do and how they make sense of it. They talk about philanthropy as a tool of their personal sense of the world and values, the future of families and society's well-being."
Preliminary survey results also show there is definitely a glass ceiling in philanthropy. Lynch says there is a need for mentoring and role modeling, and for more research: "We need case studies, not just numbers. We need to partner to get data to see parallels around things like demographics. The climate of philanthropy continues to be chilly-it is for women in general, but more so for people of color."
A Question about...Large Growth of Small Foundations Group
FN&C asked: "Why they are they joining now?"