November 28, 2023
Ms. Foundation for Women Releases Continuation of Groundbreaking Research on Philanthropic Giving for Women and Girls of Color in the United States
“Living with Pocket Change: What It Means to Do More With Less” Calls on Philanthropy to Transform Inequitable Practices that Contribute to a Crisis of Burnout
First Report in Research Series, “Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More With Less,” Found that Giving to Women and Girls of Color Accounts for Only 0.5% of $66.9 Billion by Foundations Annually
NEW YORK (NOVEMBER 28, 2023) – Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women released “Living with Pocket Change: What It Means to Do More With Less” (Pocket Change 2.0), a research study which examines the impact and real-life experiences of chronic philanthropic underinvestment and disinvestment in the leadership of women and nonbinary people of color. Comprised of 15 one-on-one interviews with current Ms. Foundation grantee partners from across the United States who identify as women and nonbinary people of color, the report is a continuation of the Ms. Foundation’s landmark study, “Pocket Change: How Women and Girls of Color Do More with Less” (Pocket Change 1.0), which revealed that the total philanthropic giving to women and girls of color is just $5.48 per year for each woman or girl of color in the United States, accounting for just 0.5% of the total $66.9 billion given by foundations annually. Pocket Change 2.0 builds off of these findings to examine the needs, experiences, and profound toll that it takes to lead an underfunded organization. The report provides ways to fundamentally reposition philanthropy and social justice organizations so that organizations on the front lines are fully able to access the resources they need and build power to win, and issues a call to action for the philanthropic sector to integrate an ethic of care alongside trust-based philanthropic practices.
“The first Pocket Change report was revolutionary in calling attention to the severe funding discrepancies in philanthropy, and we’ve seen the impact of this work over the past few years as more and more funders are intentionally centering women and girls of color in their funding strategies,” said Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “There’s still a long way to go, and Living with Pocket Change: What It Means to Do More With Less reveals just how extreme the toll of leadership can take and where we can do more to support grassroots leaders who are creating thriving communities despite the lack of resources they receive and the palpable pressure and countless barriers they face. Women and nonbinary leaders of color continue to do the work undeterred by these obstacles because it has to be done, and the philanthropic community can and must do more to support, invest in, and genuinely care for these leaders.”
“Living with Pocket Change: What It Means to Do More With Less” reveals a crisis of burnout that impacts the sustainability of social justice organizations and weakens the entire infrastructure and ecosystem of movement building for racial and gender equity throughout the country. The report identifies seven recommendations and action steps for philanthropy to fully invest in the leadership of women and nonbinary leaders, including:
- Develop Authentic Relationships with Women and Nonbinary Leaders of Color
- Continue to Implement Trust-Based Philanthropy Practices & Add an Ethic of Care
- Break Down Silos in Philanthropy
- Support the Long Game
- Fund Self-Directed Capacity Building for Women and Nonbinary Leaders of Color and Organizations
- Invest in the Wellness, Power, and Influence of Women and Nonbinary Leaders of Color
- Build the Evidence Base & Strengthen Accountability
“Women and nonbinary leaders of color are our most valuable resource in the fight for democracy, yet remain severely underfunded as they simultaneously deal with significant burnout, systemic oppression, and continuous attacks on human and civil rights,” said Shawnda Chapman, Director of Innovative Grantmaking and Research at Ms. Foundation for Women. “By listening and honoring our partners’ experiences, we know that centering care is essential. Philanthropy must continue to challenge the status quo and interrogate their role in contributing to inequities, so we can begin to heal wounds and truly provide the radical care, support and resources grassroots leaders need to propel progressive movements forward.”
“As a longtime public funder and intermediary with deep expertise working and organizing within philanthropy to advance racial and gender equity, we have a particularly strong vantage point that enables us to see and amplify what is often invisible,” said Ellen Liu, Chief Program Officer at Ms. Foundation for Women. “We are so grateful for the openness, honesty, and vulnerability interviewees showed by sharing their experiences, the challenges they face, and what they need from the philanthropic sector to do their work. Now, we have an urgent responsibility to listen, reflect, and act. The voices represented in this report provide a roadmap for systemic changes in philanthropy and we all must do our part to transform the philanthropic sector to better support and invest in our valued partners and communities.”
To hear from the interviewees in their own voices and read the full Pocket Change 2.0 report, visit forwomen.org/pocketchange.
The Ms. Foundation’s Pocket Change research series will continue to examine the funding landscape for women and nonbinary leaders of color, uplift grassroots leaders’ experiences and provide solutions to move philanthropy forward/help philanthropy increase equity. Pocket Change 3.0, anticipated 2025 release, will be a quantitative data update of the original report. For more information about the Ms. Foundation, please visit forwomen.org.
For media inquiries, please contact [email protected].
About the Ms. Foundation for Women
For 50 years, the Ms. Foundation for Women has shaped women’s philanthropy in the United States, providing a blueprint for the establishment of hundreds of local and regional women’s funds, influencing mainstream culture through nationwide projects such as Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and making grants totaling over $90 million to more than 1,600 grassroots organizations across the country. Through research, advocacy, and grantmaking, the Ms. Foundation is the national model for sustainable, trust-based philanthropic support of women of color-led movements. With equity and inclusion as the cornerstones of true democracy, the Ms. Foundation works to create a world in which the worth and dignity of every person are valued, and power and possibility are not limited by gender, race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or age.