In 2013, Women’s Funding Network worked alongside
more than 160 members in over 25 countries. Together,
we examined the challenges that face women today.

Janet Sape with Jane Sloane, Women’s Funding Network Board Member, Vice President of
Programs at Global Fund for Women, and long-time supporter of Janet’s work


In 2013, Women’s Funding Network worked alongside more than 160 members in over 25 countries. Together, we examined the challenges that face women today and identified ways that women’s funds and foundations can fuel change. We also lifted the voice of our Network, sharing our insights in new spaces and with new partners to strengthen the movement of women-led social change. The following stories are just one look at the impact of our Network – join us on Twitter and Facebook to see our community in action every day.

Connecting for impact: our 2013 Conference

Photo Gallery Headline

From April 10 to 12, 2013, more than 225 changemakers from over 15 countries gathered in Detroit, Michigan, USA for the annual conference of Women’s Funding Network. Together, we explored new models for giving, impact, and collaboration within and beyond the women’s movement.

Being in Detroit was a symbolic nod to a city that is testing its resilience and innovating to meet new economic realities. In many ways, Women’s Funding Network and our members bear witness to this same test every day, in the innovative ways we invest in change and the people we engage around the world.

keynote speakers

Lisa Hall

CEO, The Calvert Foundation “Beyond Grantmaking: The Power of Impact Investing”

Rebecca Sive

Political Strategist and Author of “Every Day is Election Day” “What’s Next in Women’s Public Leadership”

Cecile Richards

CEO, Planned
Parenthood Federation “The Potential for Progress: Women’s Reproductive Health Care in the 21st Century”

Memorable Moments

member co-hosts

Lead award

Honoring Risk-Takers: The LEAD Award

When we gather as a community of changemakers, pausing to celebrate our achievements is just as important as the time we spend exploring challenges in our work. The 2013 Women’s Funding Network conference reflected this in a very special way as we recognized the work of Janet Sape of Papua New Guinea.

Janet was honored with the Leadership in Equity and Diversity Award (LEAD), for her work in creating Women’s Micro Bank, the first bank in the Pacific region to be operated solely by and for women. She undertook the ambitious project after a twelve-year banking career, during which she encountered women trapped in extreme poverty and abusive relationships due to the absence of a pathway to financial independence.

Support from Global Fund for Women, a member of Women’s Funding Network, enabled Janet to travel to Detroit and accept the LEAD Award at our 2013 conference. Following the award ceremony, Janet embarked on a world tour of speaking engagements and diplomatic encounters with world leaders and enlisted a high-powered delegation to attend Papua New Guinea’s first national Women Leaders’ Conference. Perhaps the most significant endorsement of Janet’s work came from the government of Papua New Guinea, which allocated a portion of the national budget to bolstering the Women’s Micro Bank.

Janet attributes many of the global networking opportunities, and the resulting surge in financial and social capital for Women’s Micro Bank, to the spotlight that Women’s Funding Network shed on her work. Women’s Micro Bank is now 30,000 members strong and continues to grow. Our Network is proud to have played a role in this ongoing story – it is a powerful testament to the economic and social returns of investing in women.

More about the LEAD Award

This award celebrates outstanding risk-takers and innovators in the philanthropic community who, through their determination and leadership, have increased funding for programs that promote gender equity and diversity. The LEAD Award seeks to shine a spotlight on bold and inspiring bodies of work marked by significant accomplishments – efforts that not only intentionally benefit diverse women and girls, but also recognize the critical role they play in bringing about broader social change.

Partnership for Women’s Prosperity

Creating Pathways to Economic Security for 17,000 Women and Girls

The Partnership for Women’s Prosperity continued in 2013, building on its successful launch in 2012. This Partnership is a collective effort to unleash the economic power of economically vulnerable women, community by community.

As part of the initiative, six Women’s Funding Network members are making innovative grants and connecting with new community partners to strengthen women’s economic security. The funds and foundations have invested $3.2 million in more than 75 programs designed to support financial literacy, job training, and increased access to education, credentials, and degrees. As a result, over 17,000 women and girls have been engaged. Of those:


Completed Job Training


Secured a Job


Completed Leadership Training


Increased Financial Knowledge & Assets


Earned Credits, Credentials, or Degrees

As the members learn which programs and resources are most effective to achieve these results, Women’s Funding Network is gathering their knowledge, strategies, and practices to be shared across our movement. By amplifying the successes and lessons of the Partnership, we hope to strengthen the work of any member funds and foundations that is invested in women’s economic security.

Participating members

Learn more about the impact our members make in their communities through the Partnership for Women’s Prosperity.

  • The New York Women’s Foundation


    A $630,000 grant making investment turned into $4.8 million in income (estimated projection) through employment for women in New York City. The Foundation made 10 grants to local nonprofits focused specifically on job placement and workforce development strategies.  As a result of this targeted investment through a range of community identified strategies that address the local need, 248 women gained employment (12% of women served by these grantees during the 2013 calendar year). Together, they earned $4.8 million in 2013, benefitting an estimated 744 family members who depend on them. Close to 78% of women that gained full-time employment reported a earning a livable wage ($13/hr or greater).

    One NYWF grantee partner, which received core-operating support, was Hot Bread Kitchen. The investment spurred exponential growth for the nonprofit and provided contextualized developmental education and vocational training leading to jobs in the artisanal food services, with many of the women engaged were immigrants women. Hot Bread Kitchen also delivers culinary business incubation services to strengthen other women- and minority-owned businesses.

  • Washington Area Women’s Foundation


    In the Washington DC area, funding through the Partnership assisted over 5,700 women through access to education and job training, supportive services, and asset building opportunities. Participants included Willena, a 32-year-old mother, who had dropped out of high school in the 12th grade when she became pregnant. Willena found Academy of Hope, a leading adult basic education provider in DC, and decided that she needed to obtain her GED to improve her life and that of her children. The Academy of Hope built her confidence, which was critical as she stepped into the working world again. Willena is now a Leasing Consultant and Property Manager and has two daughters. She highly values education and is proud that both her daughters are straight A students.  “They are absolutely going to college!” says Willena.

  • Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis

    The Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis granted $680,000 to six local nonprofits to help 2,000 chronically unemployed and underemployed women and their families increase their earning ability, income and assets. These organizations are providing women and their families with wrap-around services that include basic job skills training and job placement, education, and financial literacy. Beneficiaries included Sandra, who was dependent on the bus or a paid driver to get to the grocery store or to her job. After saving $1,000, Sandra was awarded $2,000 in matching funds from the RISE Foundation’s Save Up program. With this support, Sandra purchased a car and was able to commute to a higher paying job. She has since received a “Saver’s Perseverance Award” and continues to manage her budget to accrue savings.

  • The Women’s Foundation of California

    The Women’s Foundation of California has contributed to the movement for women’s economic security through its participation in a learning community of researchers, policy advocates, and strategic grantmakers who seek to inform and influence policies that directly benefit the economic stability of women and families. With four decades of experience and expertise related to elevating a gender analysis on systems and practices that impact women and families, WFC brings tremendous leadership to its community of changemakers. In 2013, the Foundation initiated a workforce development project called The Bridge to Living Wage, which leverages the combined power of its learning community members by investing in effective programs and services that facilitate the transition for low-income women into jobs that pay family supporting wages.

  • Women’s Foundation of Minnesota


    The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota received a financial boost for its girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) Fund with a $650,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. This grant allowed the program to reach an additional 1,100 girls throughout Minnesota. Measures of success include:

    – girlsBEST participants have a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to 65-93% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
    – girlsBEST participants have a 97% post-secondary education enrollment, compared to 34-54% in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.
    – girlsBEST participants have a teen pregnancy rate of 3 per 1,000 in Minnesota overall, compared to 32-132 per 1,000 in Minnesota overall, depending on ethnicity.

  • Women’s Foundation of Mississippi


    In Mississippi, a $160,000 grant was awarded to the Community College Board to provide tuition, childcare and transportation to low-income women who are enrolled in technical courses that will prepare them for better paying jobs, such as Information Technology courses. In 2013 WFM granted approximately $500,000 to help young women access medically accurate sex education, teen friendly reproductive health services, and opportunities that will lead them to economic security.



women & the new economy convenings

In June 2013, Women’s Funding Network launched Women & the New Economy, a series of regional convenings to explore patterns, practices, and partnerships that affect women and girls in today’s changing economic landscape. Over the course of the year, we brought together more than 100 leaders from women’s funds and foundations in the northeast, southwest, and southeast United States.

The convenings offered an intimate space for leaders within the women’s funding community to meet new colleagues, share stories about their work, and workshop new strategies for community-based philanthropy.

We were also joined by a slate of dynamic speakers from organizations such as Brookings, Pew Research Center, True Child, and the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The research and insight that these speakers offered was continuously paired with the question: What is the role for women-led philanthropy?

Across the convenings, leaders from women’s funds and foundations answered that question with  long-term grantmaking strategies and innovative approaches to evaluation and storytelling.

why it matters


of grants within the women’s funding community are directed to women and girls with little to no income.

By connecting our members to share grantmaking strategies and make use of the latest research, we help ensure that those grants are more effective for the women and girls they are intended to serve.



Energizing 600 Donors to Join the Movement

One of the most common challenges that Women’s Funding Network members share with us is a need for fresh strategies and messaging that will engage new supporters in their work. When this need is combined with a complex issue like reproductive health, the task to engage donors can become even more daunting.

That’s why Women’s Funding Network spearheaded the creation of Raising Leaders, Raising Millions. This two-year initiative was designed to equip women’s funds and foundation to engage new donors and secure larger donations focused on reproductive health, rights, and justice work.

By the end of 2013, three U.S.-based and two Africa-based women’s foundations involved in the initiative had raised $1.1M from more than 625 donors. These dollars are funding programs that seek to improve women’s health by reducing maternal mortality and unplanned teen pregnancy rates, increasing access to health care, and decreasing the incidence of domestic violence.

In the second year of Raising Leaders, Raising Millions, we partnered with Women Donors Network to offer a multi-day leadership retreat in New York City. The retreat brought together women leaders, donors, and health experts to discuss research and engagement strategies related to reproductive health.

Initiatives like Raising Leaders, Raising Millions demonstrate the power of a network like ours. By bringing our members together for learning and action, new philanthropy takes root… enabling more changemakers to take on the most essential issues of our time.


> $1.1M


> 625


highlights of this initiative

toolkit + webinars

Put the Power in Her Hands is a toolkit, tutorial, and set of webinars designed to provide practical training on how to boost effective messaging that inspires and engages donors.


A multi-day retreat in New York, where donors and women’s foundations worked together to share their knowledge and identify new strategies to foster donor leadership. Speakers included leaders from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Ultraviolet, and Fenton Communications.


Funding for seven participating member women’s funds or foundations to improve their strategic communications efforts.


Ongoing work to adapt messaging and create culturally relevant strategies for new audiences, including African and millennial populations.