WOMEN & PHILANTHROPY
“Women in the United States have been active philanthropists since the colonial era. Beginning in the late-eighteenth century, middle- and upper-class white women (and to a lesser extent, women of color) fostered the development of a wide array of charitable services and social reform movements for women and children, created parallel power structures that resembled, but rarely precisely replicated, the political and economic functions of government. Most of these organizations were built on a foundation of voluntarism rather than cash.
“These patterns began to change in the 1980’s with the emergence of women’s funds, which are designed to channel money into organizations that focus on women and children, and to do so in ways that involve recipients, as well as, the donors in the allocation of grants. In effect, they are designed to cut across the barriers of class and race. One of the innovators in this area was the Ms. Foundation. Created in 1972, Ms. was the first national, multi-national public women’s fund. Ms. has funded a variety of efforts, providing funds to prevent sexual abuse, to aid battered women, to curb sexual harassment in the workplace, to promote the passage of pro-choice legislation, to develop income-generation programs for poor women, and to train women at all levels of society to assume more visible leadership roles.”