Kylie Schuyler is Helping Girls Become Empowered Leaders

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Author: Kylie Schuyler (Member, Women Moving Millions)
Originally posted on January 31, 2017 – Women Moving Millions Member Bulletin

“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way”, a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher, has resonated with me throughout my life. My life and work have truly been transformed by the light I see in young girls’ beautiful faces, their stories of strength and overcoming challenges, and the monumental shifts that occur in families and communities when girls are empowered.

My point of inflection came while traveling in Cambodia. While living in Tokyo (with my husband and seven children), I traveled with passionate co-adventurers and devoted NGO community members and witnessed – firsthand – the plight of young girls who are often denied education in favor of domestic or factory work. The image of young girls looking longingly in from outside the school gate was emblazoned in my thoughts and I knew that I had found a way to make a difference in the world. From then, I have devoted my energy, time, and resources to girls and championed their freedom to be the author of their own lives. I returned from Asia as a full-fledged ambassador for gender equality, and ...Global Girls Leading Our World (G.L.O.W.) was founded.

We began in 2011, with a mentorship and curriculum model to build self-esteem, leadership and resilience in girls from vulnerable communities. In 5 years, we have grown rapidly to meet the needs of girls and young women around the world. Today, Global G.L.O.W.’s programs ignite the power of girls in 25 countries across 5 continents through the HerStory Campaign, a joint initiative with our N.Y.- based nonprofit partner, LitWorld. I have witnessed astonishing changes in thousands of girls around the world as they become confident self-advocates and leaders who are emboldened to follow their dreams. Their stories light my path and fuel my drive to expand our work to promote an “upward spiral”, a beautiful image which depicts the way an empowered girl alters the trajectory of her own family which, in turn, transforms her community and ultimately, changes the world.

March 20-24, 2017 marks a milestone in Global G.L.O.W.’s work as we co-host the 2nd annual Global HerStory Summit, to be held in partnership with UN Women at the 61st Annual Commission on the Status of Women. At the Global HerStory Summit, we will bring 60 Youth Ambassadors from 12 countries together, at the United Nations in New York City, to represent their communities. Together, Youth Ambassadors will develop Community Action Projects to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) for education, gender equity and women’s empowerment. These goals impact poverty reduction, health improvement and economic growth, around the world. Each Ambassador will have the opportunity to present their action plan to an audience of UN officials and global leaders. Upon their return home, Youth Ambassadors will implement their Community Action Projects with the support of the HerStory Campaign, local leadership and our global partners. At this time next year, I look forward to sharing stories of success, growth and girls’ empowerment that arise from these global Community Action Projects.

I have seen, firsthand, the power of girls’ voices when they are educated and encouraged to share their stories. I have witnessed the profound impact a girl can make on her community. I have shared in the transformative moments that occur when a girl is mentored to become a leader. These moments define me, they inspire me and they light my path.

To attend or to support the HerStory Campaign and/or the Global HerStory Summit, please visit: http://globalgirlsglow.org/contact-us/.

Kylie Schuyler, PhD – Founder, Global G.L.O.W. & Founder, California Bliss (Social Enterprise supporting Global G.L.O.W.)

 

Natalie Rekstad on Claiming Your Superpower as a Female Philanthropist

The following post is authored by friend of Women Moving Millions, Kiersten Marek of Inside Philanthropy.

“What box?” Natalie Rekstad has a reputation for being an “outside-the-box thinker” who is so innovative, the box is no longer relevant.

She has advised dozens of local and global nonprofits, including the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Campus Election Engagement Project, Pencils of Promise, Bridges to Prosperity, and World Pulse.  With her gift for reaching the hearts of donors to make big things possible, I wondered if she had any advice for women with lesser financial resources who want to become more involved in philanthropy.

“You have to look at your own life experiences to find your purpose, to figure out what unique perspective and power you can bring to bear on an issue,” she said. “So if you don’t have a lot of money, maybe the best way to be a philanthropist is to start giving in a way that feels vital to you, that feels essential. You might start by giving your time and gain experience from that,” said Rekstad, in a recent interview with Inside Philanthropy.

Read the original post here.

My Passion, My Philanthropy

lauren blog photoLauren Embrey on Giving Bold and ‘Now’
Author: Lauren Embrey (Member, Women Moving Millions)
Originally posted on August 9, 2016 on Women’s E-News

“There is no such thing as a lesser person.” That is the motto of the Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University, and something I innately knew from birth.

When I was young, I wanted to drive a moped, but was told I couldn’t “because I was a girl.” I did not understand this. When I was a few years older, I was asked to train for the Olympics in swimming, but my mother’s response was, “Why would you want green hair and big shoulders?” I didn’t understand that either.

Then at the elite girls’ school I attended in Dallas, my hometown, the message changed. I was taught that I could accomplish anything any man could. I was not to consider myself “lesser” in any regard, and definitely not because of my gender.

Read more from Lauren here.

What’s In a Name?

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Author: Cynda Collins Arsenault (Member, Women Moving Millions)

As someone who grew up reading Little Women and Five Little Peppers and feeling that the way to happiness was to be poor and struggle together, I had “issues” with people who had money.  Attending Berkeley in the late 60’s only confirmed those issues.  When my husband’s business began to be successful, I definitely struggled with being part of the 1%. As I began my philanthropic journey, I saw no reason to have my name on donations and reveled in my “anonymity”.  I felt that by giving secretly I was beyond the “ego trappings” associated with the feel good component of philanthropy. But gradually as I became more serious about what money can actually DO and saw how other women were stepping into their power to have serious impact, I recognized that being public had its advantages too.

I like to think that I bring my whole self into my philanthropy. It’s not just about writing a check but trying to think strategically about the world I would like to see and how I can contribute to it. I am personally involved with most of the organizations I fund and firmly support their missions by sharing the work they are doing with others. This often means leveraging my donations.  I have found that by sharing my passions with others, I am often able to bring in additional funding for the organization.

I have also found that through my membership in affinity groups such as Women Moving Millions, Women Donors Network, and Beyond Our Borders I learn so much from the other women. I gain new insights into funding strategies, I learn about new opportunities and I experience the power of collective funding for greater impact. I am proud to have my name associated with others.

When my husband and I first started our philanthropy, I spent a couple years reading, researching and trying to figure out what to do. I read about social change, philanthropy, evolution, evaluation, peace, etc. and had an “aha” moment when I recognized that we live in a world that has been “male” designed. From a species viewpoint, there may have been a reason for this (strength, linear focus, survival, etc.) but now the world desperately needs what women have to offer (nurturing, collaboration, communication skills, etc).

This is not about women claiming their place at the table of existing power structures.  It’s about reaching that tipping point of women who create a paradigm shift to bring about a world that is more just, sustainable and peaceful. I want to be a part of that world and so I am proud to put my name out there and be “all in for her”.  Won’t you join me?

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Cynda Collins Arsenault is co-Founder and President of Secure World Foundation, an operating foundation working for the secure and sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of humanity and contributing to global stability on Earth. She focuses her personal philanthropy on women, peace and security. She is active with Women Building a Just Peace Circle in the Women Donors Network and part of the Women, Peace and Security Working Group of the Peace and Security Funder’s Group. She is on the family Boards of One Earth Future Foundation and the Arsenault Family Foundation.

Giving Out Loud

natalie lrGiving Out Loud
Author: Natalie Lynn Rekstad (Member, Women Moving Millions)

As I mark my 50th year on earth, I reflect upon a harrowing and rich “soul curriculum” that fuels a passion for impact, particularly around issues facing women and girls.  In short, our deepest passions often spring from our deepest wounds. 

I discovered this truth early, moved to action by seeing a filmstrip in my 3rd grade classroom of starving children in Africa.  By then, I’d already had my share of deeply painful experiences and I found it baffling that the teacher would share haunting, heartbreaking images with a room full of eight-year-olds, yet offer no way to help solve the problem.  I staged backyard fundraisers, which led to the realization that I didn’t have to sit with heartbreak, but could take action toward creating a better world.

A notable discovery was that I was resource-rich in a way that had nothing to do with money; in fact, at the time, my mother, four siblings, and I were living on food stamps and other government assistance.  While today I have financial resources added to my arsenal, my heart of service, strategist brain and grit trumps my bank account in terms of the level of impact I’m able to have upon the world.

This resource-richness is a cornerstone of effective philanthropy.  Giants like Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Melinda & Bill Gates, Abby Disney, Pierre & Pamela Omidyar and more have two key things in common:  They lead with humility and are strategically outspoken about their giving.  By putting a very public stake in the ground for the issues they want to help solve, they awaken others to their own potential as change agents.

Yet as I consider the journey toward impact, I admit my motives were not always lofty.  Having founded and run an arts-based nonprofit for a decade, I found it was a vehicle for recognition and accolades, landing me on magazine covers and in the national arts press.  I loved being behind the podium, aware of a “Look at me” quality that I grappled with.  It wasn’t a “Look at me, I’m so great” missive; it was a “Look at me, I have worth” plea.

The stories that shaped that need to be seen and valued are all too common among women of my generation who spent their early years being marginalized or worse. The more I suffered through those identity-shaping experiences, the more I developed a “Not on my watch” warriorship on behalf of others.  Yet, after bequeathing my nonprofit to the Denver Art Museum in 2011, I became an increasingly private person.  My ego sated, a servant quality to my philanthropy reemerged.  I found myself among the throngs of women who shy away from philanthropic recognition, feeling it sullied the purity of the intention.  I found peace in the decision to back away from the spotlight.

Within a year, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado invited me to share my story publicly to help inspire others to bold action and giving.  I initially declined for a number of reasons many private philanthropists identify with; but at the end of the day, I have a strategist brain and a voracious appetite for impact.  While I gave financially and served quietly, I realized I had taken my two most powerful resources out the narrative:  my voice and my ferocity.

And I felt like a hypocrite.  All my life I knew, deep in my bones, that if I lived during the Civil Rights movement, I would have marched.  If I had lived during the Civil War, I would have spoken out against slavery.  Yet, by flying below the radar, I stopped inspiring others to think about their resources, financial and beyond, diminishing my own effectiveness.  There is nothing to be gained for causes by keeping quiet about philanthropy, as it is a powerful call to action for others.  It is also an indescribable joy, bringing kindreds together in a fulfilling and world-changing way.  In the words of social impact leader Jonathan Lewis, “It’s as much fun as I have in public.”

The causes I care about need me to take my full space in the world.  I ultimately got out of my own way, taking bold action toward greater impact by launching Black Fox Philanthropy and joining Women Moving Millions.

While I don’t seek the spotlight, I no longer shy away from it because it isn’t really about me.  It’s about living a fully expressed life as a woman in an era that needs every woman’s voice at the table, at the podium, and in the halls of power that shape our world.  Together, we are a FORCE.

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Natalie Lynn Rekstad is an innovative strategist who helps raise vital funds for social change organizations around the globe via her consulting firm, Black Fox Philanthropy.  She is a frequent panelist, speaker, and resource for a variety of organizations on the topic of philanthropy.

An active supporter of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado since 2007, Natalie now serves as a Board Trustee, and her firm funds the scholarship “Black Fox Scholars,” rewarding high school girls for excellence in philanthropy.  Her ultimate vision: A world where men and `women lead together with full opportunity and equality. In addition to being a Women Moving Millions member, Natalie is an MCE Social Capital Guarantor, infusing $1 million in microfinance to women throughout the developing world; and is on the Global Advisory Board of World Pulse.

“Band of Brothers”: The Very Young, Very Male Face of Boston’s Church Planting Movement

emily njAuthor: Emily Nielsen Jones (Member, Women Moving Millions)
Originally posted on July 20, 2016 on Missio Alliance

 
Did you know that since the year 2000, over one hundred church plants have been started in Boston, by over ten networks, most of which recruit young men from other states? Whereas the leadership table for women in evangelical churches here in Boston had been slowly expanding, these church planting initiatives being imported from other states have sadly shifted the tide.

The majority of these church plants are part of a growing “men’s movement” which defines spiritual leadership as exclusively male and sees the discipleship of men as the center of its church growth strategy.

Read more here.

In philanthropy trust is far more than a five-point word

The following post is authored by our partners, Debra Mesch, Ph.D., Director, and Andrea Pactor, MA, Associate Director, Women’s Philanthropy Institute

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Trust may be a five-point word in Scrabble but to nonprofits, it is priceless.  And, to women’s funds, trust in the women’s fund is a clear motivating factor for donors to support them as our new report, Giving to Women and Girls:  Who Gives, and Why? illustrates.

Researchers have long held that social capital, including trust, is an important factor in philanthropic behavior.  In our study of high net worth women who belong to a giving network, we found that high net worth women in general are more likely than their male counterparts to have a greater deal of confidence in the ability of nonprofits to solve domestic or global problems (50.4% vs. 33.8%).  The study also found that women who belong to a giving network have more confidence than women who do not belong to a network in the ability of nonprofits (54.2% vs. 47.4%) and individuals (54.5% vs. 39.9%) to solve domestic or global problems.

Now, for the first time, empirical evidence affirms that trust also matters to women’s funds donors.  Our study, Giving to Women and Girls:  Who Gives, and Why? found that donors to women’s funds saw these organizations as having particular expertise and trusted them to distribute grants effectively.

Donors reported that they gave to women’s fund because they

  • believe the women’s funds have the best connections and know which organizations in the community are doing great work;
  • trust the women’s fund will do the right thing; and
  • trust the women’s fund to deliver the desired result.

Trust is one factor that motivates donors to support women’s funds.  Our study also found other factors such as personal experiences and a desire for gender equality in society.  One donor was drawn to support women’s funds because they are “underfunded” and “underdogs.”  She mentioned as motivations for her support that these organizations “still aren’t even with men’s organizations.”  Another donor stated she supports women’s funds because “We have to have women who are empowered and have economic stability to be able to provide the next generations with stability.”

The more nonprofits understand what motivates donors, the better able they will be to meet donor expectations and to engage donors according to their interests. Building trust is reciprocal from the nonprofit to the donor and from the donor to the nonprofit.  While our new research illustrates the importance of trust in women’s funds to donors, more research is needed to better understand donors’ perceptions of that trust.

What factors contribute to building that trust?  What are best practices for nonprofits to build trust with donors?  What do donors look for in trusted nonprofit partners?  What happens when that trust erodes from either side?  How important are timely communications, accountability, transparency, and statements of impact to strengthen that trust?

This research report, Giving to Women and Girls:  Who Gives and Why? is the first in a series of studies we are working on with support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  We look forward to sharing new findings with you over the next several years.