“The most important thing we can do is unleash the full power of half the people on the planet—women. We know that women need the tools of development, but development needs women.” - Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation
While it might seem like a *little* bit of a stereotype, women are naturally giving creatures. And we’re not just talking about our maternal instincts. With women controlling over 51% of personal wealth in America, more and more women are choosing to give back -- not only from their purses (although a study from 2014 found that 64% of charitable donations were made by women), but with their time, talent, and treasure. Joining boards of nonprofit organizations, volunteering at higher rates than ever, and embracing causes such as diversity, inclusion, children's advocacy, social issues, and education.
Women have never been as impactful or giving as they are today, and we have a feeling that’s not stopping anytime soon! From entrepreneurs to investors, the following women have found amazing ways to make an impact on others.
Dallas-based entrepreneur Lyda Hill was one of the few women to land on the 2014 Forbes list of top 15 entrepreneurs who give back. She is known for actively seeking out opportunities to fund efforts that result in significant advances in science and nature on a local and global scale. She aims to give away her entire fortune in her lifetime, saying, “I will enjoy seeing it spent. I want it to go down with me.” In 2019, Lyda Hill Philanthropies committed $25 million to efforts that work to close gender gaps in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields.
Upon receiving the Global Fund for Women’s Global Philanthropist Award, Jennifer said, “My role is to work as hard as possible to pay it forward to other girls and women.” Alongside her husband, Peter Buffett, the couple founded the NoVo Foundation, which empowers girls and women worldwide while working diligently to end violence and exploitation against them. As the foundation’s president, Jennifer oversees the strategy and implementation of this vision while developing relationships with partnering foundations and nonprofits.
Tory Burch may be most well-known for fashion, but this businesswoman has channeled a great deal of her wealth and knowledge into the Tory Burch Foundation, an organization focused on empowering women in their entrepreneurial pursuits. About her fashion brand, Tory said, “We started the brand with a founding principle to be purpose-driven and knew that a foundation would be a big part of that.” In 2017, The Tory Burch Foundation launched an #EmbraceAmbition initiative to destigmatize ambition in women, while providing them with funds, education, and digital resources to pursue their goals as entrepreneurs.
Alex and Ani is an eco-conscious jewelry line founded by Carolyn Rafaelian that has donated over $50 million to charitable organizations around the world. In large part, these funds are the result of sales from their Charity By Design collection. Upon reaching $50 million in donations, Carolyn said of the milestone, “There is a universal law, the more you have, the more you have to give, and when the right intention is set, there is nothing more powerful on Earth than human connection.”
As a college student, Lauren Bush Lauren was inspired to help combat world hunger after traveling with the UN’s World Food Programme. Her experience with the UN resulted in her founding FEED in 2007, with the idea to create lifestyle products that give back to the world’s hungry and malnourished. From home goods to accessories, each FEED product is associated with a number of school meals that are donated to the vulnerable children of communities around the world. By supporting FEED, consumers can feel good about every purchase they make, knowing the impact it is making through providing meals!
When her mother passed away from ovarian cancer, Nyla Rodgers traveled to Africa, where she discovered that her mother had been funding small projects proposed by the local villagers of Kenya. Compelled by her mother’s efforts, Nyla founded MAMA HOPE, an organization that provides funding and training to grassroots projects that contribute to sustainable outcomes in the realm of health, education, and food and water security. On the topic of philanthropy, Nyla says, “For us to have a true legacy it’s really about what we give, and I think so much of the time we get caught up in what we have… We can’t take any of that with us.”
Angie Janssen founded Donii, a system for pairing material goods with the people who would benefit from it the most. This idea was born from her desire to donate a like-new guest room bed to a family or individual who might really need it, but she found that it was difficult to identify a recipient. Donii provides a kiosk system for donations to be made, matched, and received between those who are willing to give and those who would like to receive such items, at any convenient location.
In the world of fashion and fine jewelry, Kendra Scott saw a void in the jewelry market for quality styles and stones at affordable prices. As she set out to create quality luxury products that would make fashion and its trends accessible to all, she paired that goal with some serious dedication to philanthropy. Now, a portion of all proceeds from Kendra Scott purchases gives back to impactful causes supporting women and children. In particular, the brand focuses on enriching programs dedicated to health and wellness, education and entrepreneurship, and empowerment. To learn more about their philanthropic model, tune into our SheCares Wellness Summit for a workshop by their Head of Philanthropy, Sheena Wilde.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, is most well known for her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. However, she also founded the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation alongside her husband to further initiatives aimed at developing a more equitable world. The main initiatives of the foundation are LeanIn.Org, which empowers women with programs that counter gender stereotypes, and OptionB.org, which helps individuals reach a place of resilience when faced with adversity. Most recently, Sheryl committed to donating $5 million to women impacted by COVID-19.
Sara Blakely may have created Spanx to make women feel good, but she created the Sara Blakely Foundation to do good! She has said, “I pledge to invest in women because I believe it offers one of the greatest returns on investment. While many of the world’s natural resources are being depleted, one is waiting to be unleashed--women.” Since 2006, the foundation has donated millions to charities that empower women and girls, especially in underserved regions. This year, in the wake of COVID, Sara established The Red Backpack Fund to support female entrepreneurs during these, especially trying times. In fact, SheFactor is a proud recipient of a Red Backpack Fund Grant!
This list of incredible humans is only a small fraction of women who are doing great things in the world. It is through these philanthropic efforts that they all will leave a lasting impact on the world and its people. So… feeling inspired yet? What mark will you leave?