Women are more likely to give, and to give more, than men in similar situations. Research at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has found consistently that women and men give differently. In one study, baby-boomer and older women gave 89% more to charity than men their age, and women in the top 25% of permanent income gave 156% more than men in that same category.
Institute has found evidence that women give more than their male peers at virtually all income levels, even though women in general earn less and have less money in retirement than men, and have a greater life expectancy. In other words, even though women tend to have fewer available resources as they age, they are giving larger portions of their wealth to charity than men.
In trying to explain such differences, our research has found that women tend to be more altruistic and empathetic than men, partly because of the way men and women are socialized regarding caring, self-sacrifice and the well-being of others. Research also suggests that men tend to make charitable gifts when an appeal frames the donation as being in the man’s self interest or as a way of maintaining the status quo, while women tend to give to promote social change or help others who are less fortunate.
nother possible reason that women give more than men is the two sexes have different attitudes toward money. For men, money may represent power, achievement or prestige, while women tend to view money in terms of personal security, freedom and a way to achieve goals. A 2013 U.S. Trust survey on women and wealth found that “women are nearly twice as likely as men to say that giving to charity is the most satisfying aspect of having wealth.”
Research also finds that marriage has a positive effect on giving. Married couples tend to give more than single-head households. Recently, we explored the extent to which the income of each member of a couple affects giving. For high-net-worth couples, changes in a partner’s income did not affect giving. In the general population, however, changes in men’s and women’s income affected a couple’s overall giving differently.
A $10,000 rise in the woman’s income is associated with a more than 5% rise in total household giving, while a similar rise in the man’s income is associated with a nearly 3% rise in total giving. This study supports earlier research suggesting that women influence household charitable decision making. These findings demonstrate how complex and nuanced charitable decision making is for both sexes, as well as for couples.
Let this be a wake-up call to nonprofits everywhere. A better understanding of gender’s role in charitable behavior can help organizations engage men and women more effectively—according to how they wish to be engaged.
Dr. Mesch is Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy and Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Warren Buffett, the 86-year-old billionaire who committed most of his wealth to charity, said he expects younger entrepreneurs, such as the co-founders of Airbnb Inc., to be better messengers than him about the benefits of donating a fortune.
“Every one of them is worth about 10 of me,” the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman said Tuesday in remarks broadcast by video to the Concordia Summit, a gathering of business, government and non-profit leaders that encourages partnerships to address the world’s most pressing challenges. “Because you’re going to have young people, particularly in this day and age, that get wealthy very early, and they’re going to look to the people that are their heroes.”
More than 150 individuals and families have signed The Giving Pledge, an initiative that Buffett started with Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 to encourage billionaires to donate the majority of their wealth. Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founders of home-sharing company Airbnb, signed on this year. Billionaires who take the pledge are asked to post messages, in hopes that their words will motivate others.
Chesky drew inspiration from an older generation in making his pledge. One of his interests, he wrote, will be to show kids that their potential should not be bounded.
“Walt Disney once said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it,’” Chesky wrote. “I would like to help them dream.”
By highlighting the opportunity available to young philanthropists, both to support worthwhile causes and to inspire others, Buffett is building on remarks by Bill Gates. The Microsoft Corp. co-founder said in India in 2011 that people depend on self-made millionaires and billionaires to donate money before passing their wealth on to less-generous heirs.
Buffett acknowledged Tuesday that some billionaires around the world are reluctant to make the pledge. He said that in China there was concern that supporting public education or health initiatives could be seen as sending a message of disapproval with the government’s efforts. Buffett is pleased by changing attitudes, however, and cited an example of someone encouraging wealthy parents to donate most of their fortune. He didn’t identify the family.
“Cultures change slowly but I think you will see a world, not just the U.S., but I think you will see a world that 20, 30, 50 years from now where people think about philanthropy in a big scale, at an earlier age,” he said. “We’re going in the right direction.”
The majority of Buffett’s Berkshire stock will go to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over time. That organization has donated more than $36 billion, including for projects that expand access to immunizations in developing countries and provide financial services to poor communities.
Since no good deed goes unpunished, the federal income tax rules for deducting personal charitable donations are complicated. Here’s what you need to know to claim your rightful deductions:
Charitable deduction basics
Depending on the type of charity and whether you contribute cash or other stuff, your charitable write-off can potentially be limited to 20%, 30% or 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). AGI is the number at the bottom of Page 1 of your Form 1040. It includes all taxable income items and selected write-offs such as the ones for alimony paid and moving expenses. Contributions that exceed the applicable AGI limit can be carried over for up to five years and hopefully deducted in those future years.
Documentation requirements You can only deduct donations for which you have the required documentation. Here are the details on the documentation rules.
Cash donations under $250 To deduct a cash donation of $250 or less, the best proof of your generosity is a canceled check or credit card statement. Preferably, you should also get a receipt from the organization showing its name, the date and place of the contribution, and the amount given. For small cash donations, say to your church when attending weekly services or to the Salvation Army around the holidays, keep a log to satisfy the IRS.
Noncash donations under $250
To deduct the donation of a noncash item worth less than $250, you need a receipt — like the familiar slips you get for donations to Goodwill. The receipt should show the organization’s name, the date and place of the donation, and a description of what you donated. You may have to fill in most of this information yourself. You must also place a value on the donated item(s). Finally, you must have the receipt in hand by the time you file your return to claim your rightful deduction.
Cash donations of $250 or more
To deduct cash donations of $250 or more, canceled checks or other evidence supplied by you is not good enough for the IRS. Instead you must collect from the charity a contemporaneous qualified written acknowledgment (more detailed than a simple receipt) that meets IRS guidelines. You need to have this acknowledgment in hand by the time you file your return in case you get audited. If you do get audited and don’t have it, you lose the deduction even though there may be no doubt you made the donation.
An acknowledgment meets the contemporaneous requirement if you obtain it on or before the earlier of: (1) the date you file your Form 1040 for the year you made the donation or (2) the due date (including any extension) for filing that return. If you don’t have a qualified acknowledgment in hand by the applicable magic date, you won’t be able to get credit for your charitable deduction.
Noncash donations of $250 to $5,000
To deduct a donated noncash item worth $250 to $5,000, you need a contemporaneous qualified written acknowledgment plus written evidence that supports the item’s acquisition date, its fair market value, how much it cost, and so forth. You’ll need this information to fill out IRS Form 8283 (see below). Keep the acknowledgment and the written evidence (which may simply be notes that you’ve prepared yourself) with your tax records, but don’t file them with your return.
Key point: If your total noncash donations for the year exceed $500, you must fill out IRS Form 8283 (Noncash Charitable Contributions) and include it with your return.
Noncash donations of more than $5,000
To deduct the donation of an item valued at more than $5,000, you generally must collect a contemporaneous qualified written acknowledgment, file Form 8283 with your return, and obtain a qualified written appraisal for the item. You must have the appraisal in hand by the time you file your return. Stricter appraisal rules apply to contributions of artwork worth $50,000 or more. You can write off the appraisal fee as a miscellaneous itemized expense that is subject to the 2%-of-AGI deduction threshold.
Key point: No appraisal is required for donations of publicly traded securities.
Donations of clothing and household items
For donated clothing and household items (such as furniture, furnishings, electronics, and appliances), all the preceding documentation rules apply. In addition, the general rule for these items says you can only claim deductions for stuff that is in “good condition or better.” However, you can deduct the fair market value of an item that is not in good condition or better if you attach a qualified written appraisal that values the item at more than $500. For example, this rule might apply to a donated antique that’s fairly valuable despite being in not-so-great condition.
Donations of appreciated securities
When you contribute appreciated securities, please be sure to give away only those you’ve owned for more than one year. That way you can deduct the full market value and permanently avoid any capital gains tax on the appreciation. In contrast, when you donate appreciated securities you’ve held for 12 months or less, your deduction is limited to the cost of the securities, which may be much lower. As mentioned earlier, no appraisal is required for donations of publicly traded securities.
Donations of vehicles, boats, and planes
You’ve probably heard many radio and TV ads asking for charitable donations of used vehicles. In addition to all the aforementioned documentation guidelines, special rules apply to donated motor vehicles, boats, and planes.
For a vehicle (or boat or plane) valued at $500 or less, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV). If the FMV exceeds $500 and the charity simply sells the vehicle (or boat or plane), your deduction is limited to the sale price. Since charities often sell donated vehicles at used car auctions, the sale price might be significantly less than FMV. On the other hand, if the charity uses the vehicle in its tax-exempt purpose (for example, to deliver items to the needy), you can deduct the full FMV. Ditto if charity makes significant improvements to the vehicle (for example, rebuilding the engine or transmission). Minor dent removal and a paint job don’t count as significant improvements. No deduction is allowed for donating a vehicle (or boat or plane) for which the claimed value exceeds $500 unless you receive a contemporaneous qualified written acknowledgment from the charity. Usually, the charity will supply you with IRS Form 1098-C (Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats, and Airplanes) as the acknowledgment. Limitation on deductions for noncash donations
If you contribute a noncash item (other than securities), your deduction is limited to the item’s tax basis (generally what you paid for it) unless the item is used in the charity’s exempt purpose. For example, if you donate a painting with a basis of $2,000 and a FMV of $75,000 to a children’s shelter, your deduction will be only $2,000. But if you donate the painting to a museum that will display it in a gallery, you can deduct the full $75,000 FMV. Big difference!
Phase-out rule for high-income individuals
Unfortunately, itemized deductions for charitable donations are affected by a phaseout rule that can potentially wipe out up to 80% of your otherwise deductible amounts. (This phaseout rule also affects itemized write-offs for home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and most miscellaneous deduction items.)
For the 2015 tax year, the phaseout rule kicks in when adjusted gross income (AGI) exceeds $258,250 for singles, $309,900 for married joint-filing couples, $284,050 for heads of households, and $154,950 for married individuals who file separate returns. AGI is the number at the bottom of Page 1 of your Form 1040. It includes all taxable income items and is reduced by selected write-off such as alimony paid and moving expenses.
Under the phaseout rule, the total amount of affected itemized deductions is reduced by 3% of the amount by which AGI exceeds the applicable threshold. However, the reduction cannot exceed 80% of the affected deductions that you started off with.
Key point: Most folks are untroubled by the itemized deduction phaseout rule, and even when it does apply it does not make a big difference unless you are really raking it in.
Itemizing versus claiming standard deduction
You can claim either the applicable standard deduction or itemized deductions, but not both. If you have enough itemized deductions to exceed your standard deduction amount, you should itemize using Schedule A (Itemized Deductions), which is filed with your Form 1040.
If you don’t have enough itemized write-offs, claim the standard deduction. For 2015, the standard deduction amounts are $6,300 for singles, $12,600 for married joint-filing couples, $9,250 for heads of households, and $6,300 for married individuals who file separately.
How should we balance the rights and responsibilities for women’s economic empowerment? Elizabeth Fraser from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women takes us through her views.
It is a triumph of gender activism that women’s economic empowerment has won increasing recognition as an issue of human rights. As more and more women join the ranks of entrepreneurship, they are poised to make a real difference, not just to our economies but to the very essence of our societies. For that to happen, they must be empowered to balance their economic rights with their economic responsibilities. Efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment must address both sides of the equation.
Efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment must address both sides of the equation.
Research shows that social entrepreneurship is a top business interest for women worldwide. While men still make up the majority of the world’s social entrepreneurs, the gender gap in this field is significantly smaller compared with commercial counterparts. Studies also show that male entrepreneurs are more likely to focus solely on making a profit, while women are more likely to emphasise social goals and values. The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women empowers women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging economies and our experience confirms this trend, as many of the women entrepreneurs we support run businesses which seek to generate social impact as well as financial security.
One of these women is Nonkululeko, a South African mentee in our Mentoring Women in Business Programme. She founded a non-profit enterprise which assists young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education. Another mentee, Sofia, runs a business which supports Mexican artisans to supply their goods to the tourist industry, while other women entrepreneurs in our programmes operate enterprises which tackle a range of social issues like violence against women, environmental sustainability and unemployment.
Social justice is a crucial motivator for many of the women entrepreneurs we support. Take Comfort in Ghana, for example. Comfort saw an opportunity to support women who gather and process shea nuts – strenuous work which is often poorly paid. To help support these women and give them fair wages, Comfort started her own shop selling shea products. Today her company works with over 300 shea producers across the country, including a number of women-led cooperatives, and over 5,000 shea nut pickers.
It is encouraging that many women entrepreneurs develop business models which not only meet their own needs but also generate some kind of social impact and, in many cases, actively advance gender equality. But we cannot assume that women will naturally choose to employ responsible business practices, or that they will have access to the tools and skills needed to do so. Projects that seek to promote women’s economic empowerment must therefore support women to both realise their rights and fulfil their responsibilities.
Capacity building programmes for women, for example, could incorporate training on the importance of practices such as purchasing goods from ethical supply chains and implementing policies around safe working conditions, fair pay and maternity leave. This is particularly pertinent given that women-owned businesses are often concentrated in sectors like retail and services, where exploitation of cheap female labour in supply chains is prevalent.
Projects that focus on women’s economic empowerment could also implement measures which create a ripple effect. Send a Cow, for example, encourages its beneficiaries to give their first female calf to another family, in order to multiply the impact of its work. Our own Mentoring Women in Business Programme encourages women to pass on the skills and knowledge they gain during their time as a mentee; a recent evaluation showed that 80% of women shared what they had learned with others in their communities, with 50% going on to mentor others.
Policy-makers, activists and economists alike are quick to champion the economic rationale for women’s empowerment, citing compelling evidence which shows that closing the gender gap in economic activity will dramatically inflate GDP. But economic growth should not be the bottom line. Profitable businesses are not necessarily ethical businesses.
Empowering women to run businesses which are both financially successful and socially responsible will offer an even more powerful return on investment. Instead of lifting individual women or families out of poverty this strategy would help to forge a more equitable labour market for all.
Philanthropy has become big again. Some of the world’s richest people have recently been seen giving away vast portions of their amassed fortunes to a variety of international causes. Some, like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have reacted to the current global economic crisis by encouraging their fellow billionaires to give generously. Others have been doing it quietly ever since they made it big.
While most of history’s biggest givers are from the boom times of the recent era, not all of them are. It is possible that the greatest philanthropist of all time lies in the murky histories of Ming China or Malian West Africa, both of which were times renown for their wealth. We could try to trace back the threads of time to long past eras, find their richest individuals and calculate their philanthropic contribution in modern currency. But, that would be exceedingly complicated. Better to stick with what we know for sure. That being the case, our 10 most generous individuals are all from fairly recent history.
Based on total amount pledged or actually given, these are the top 10 biggest philanthropists of all time.
10: Michael Bloomberg: $2.4 billion (current total Net Worth of $31 billion)
The three time, and current, mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg has donated $2.4 billion to a wide range of education, technological, and healthcare efforts. Bloomberg made his money by offering Wall Street traders quick, and high quality business information. His company, Bloomberg LP, later expanded into an international news agency with two business magazines, a radio station, global television network, and wire service.
Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bloomberg has donated $2.4 billion to replace coal as an energy source, fight tobacco and polio, streamline municipal governments throughout the US, and support the arts of New York City.
9: Eli and Edythe Broad $3.5 billion (current total Net Worth $6.9 billion)
The son of a house painter and dressmaker, Eli Broad has spent the last decade giving generously to scientific research, early education, and the arts of Los Angeles. Broad made his billions through successfully running two Fortune 500 companies. The first, a Detroit home builder called Kaufman and Broad, and the other, SunAmerica, a billion dollar retirement savings company Broad forged out of a century old family insurance company.
After selling SunAmerica in 1999 for $18 billion, Broad, with his wife Edythe, turned his attention to philanthropy full time. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has given $3.5 billion to support human genomics and stem cell research, urban public schools, and the museums and art collections of Los Angeles.
8: George Kaiser: $4 Billion (current total Net Worth $10 Billion)
One of the top 100 richest people in the world, George Kaiser inherited Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. from his uncle and parents in 1969. In 1990 he bought the Bank of Oklahoma, putting him on Forbes list of 400 wealthiest Americans.
Through the George Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser has funded efforts to fight child poverty, develop alternative sources of energy, and combat drugs and poverty throughout his native city of Tulsa.
7: Carlos Slim Helú: $4 Billion (current total Net Worth $74 billion)
From 2010 to 2013, Carlos Slim Helú was the richest person in the world, before being toppled by Bill Gates in 2013. Through his Fundación Carlos Slim Helú, the native of Mexico has given $4 billion to providing health care, digital education, access to improved nutrition, and disease prevention throughout Latin America, in one case paying for 50,000 cataract surgeries in Peru. Carlos Slim Helú has also sponsored the Museo Soumaya, a free admissions museum in Mexico City.
6: Chuck Feeney: $6.3 Billion (current total Net Worth $2 million)
Dubbed by Forbes “The Billionaire Who Is trying To Go Broke”, Chuck Feeney has been trying to give away as much of his amassed $7.5 billion fortune as he can to worthy charitable causes since 1984. His foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies has donated 6.3 billion of Feeney’s fortune into global efforts for education, science, health care, aging, and civil rights. Best of all, Feeney has been doing it as quietly as he possibly can.
5: Gordon Moore: $6.8 Billion (current total Net Worth $4.6 billion)
Gordon Moore made his fortune as a co-founder and chairman of the Intel Corporation, and is famous as the author of ‘Moore’s Law’, which is typically called upon to explain the big steps in computing capability over the past several decades.
Through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Moore and his wife have directed nearly $7 billion towards higher education, environmental conservation, nursing education, and the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii, the largest optical telescope in the world.
4: George Soros: $10 Billion (current total Net Worth $20 billion)
Originally from Hungary, Soros emigrated after WW2 to study at the London School of Economics while surviving as a waiter and railway porter. Soros excelled in the financial field, developing the economic theory of reflexivity, and becoming infamous as ‘The Man Who Broke the Bank of England’ during the 1992 UK currency crises.
Soros has long been a supporter of human rights and open democratic societies. During the 1970s, Soros funded both black students living under South African apartheid, and dissidents behind the iron curtain. He is also credited with being instrumental in the transition from communism to capitalism in Hungary during the 1980s.
In 1993, Soros founded the Open Society Foundation, a public policy grant network that promotes social reform, human rights, and democracy. Among the billions Soros has donated, 1.7 billion has gone to human rights efforts, while another 1.6 billion has gone to education.
3: Warren Buffet: $25 Billion (current total Net Worth $58.7 billion)
One of the world’s wealthiest people, Warren Buffet is also one of the most generous on the list of billionaire philanthropists. Notable for his personal frugality, and consistently successful investment advice, Buffett, in alliance with Gates, created the Giving Pledge in response to the current economic crises, encouraging America’s billionaires to invest the majority of their wealth in philanthropic causes. Buffett himself has committed $25 billion of his fortune, largely to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
2: Bill and Melinda Gates: $28 billion (current total Net Worth $74 billion)
Perhaps the most successful entrepreneur of the information age, Bill Gates amassed an immense fortune as the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, holding the title of the world’s richest man multiple times, including in 2013. Since 1999, Gates has poured money into his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which, in alliance with the efforts of Warren Buffett, has become one of the world’s leading philanthropic foundations, primarily focusing on global healthcare, poverty, education, and increasing access to information technology.
1: Andrew Carnegie: (Estimated after adjustment $75-297.8 billion out of a total Net Worth of $298.3 billion)
One of history’s richest men, Andrew Carnegie, the namesake of Carnegie Hall, died nearly a century ago and is still the biggest philanthropist of all time. After amassing one of the largest fortunes ever seen through the burgeoning U.S. Steel industry ($298.3 billion in 2007 dollars according for Forbes), the Scottish immigrant spent the last twenty years of his life giving away over 90% of his wealth. Carnegie donated liberally to education, establishing universities, schools, and nearly 3000 free public libraries across the English-speaking world. The steel tycoon also supported the construction of civic institutions, 7000 church organs, and, perhaps his most famous monument, Carnegie Hall.
Despite the fact that 96 percent of Zimbabweans have cell phone services, according to a report by Afrobarometer, a pan-African and non-partisan research network, most women and girls in the country remain unconnected compared to men and boys.
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MISC) 2014, testifies that 85.2 percent of young women aged 14-24 years and 88.6 percent of adult women aged 15-49 years used mobile or non-mobile phones during the last 12 months compared to 85.6 percent of young men aged 15-24 years and 90.3 percent of adult men aged 15-54 years.
This disparity in the gender digital divide, which is not only an equality as well as social issue, but also a critical challenge to growing economic sustainability is also visible in Kenya where, according to a 2010 survey, at least 49 percent Kenyan women aged 16+ owned a cellphone.
Further, countries such as Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have a mobile gender gap of more than 30 percent.
Women and girls in the African continent, notes the book “Rethinking Approaches: Reconsidering Strategies”, are 23 percent less likely to own cell phones and with the multiple uses of feature and smart phones, it sadly means they are at a greater disadvantage.
Sharing the same views, Tumi Chamayou, Ericsson’s vice-president, strategy and marketing for sub-Saharan Africa, affixed that despite significant progress in mobile penetration over the past few years in sub-Saharan Africa, the region is home to more than 300 million unconnected women.
Cost, without doubt, is the greatest barrier to using and owning a handset.
Forlornly, the disparity in the gender digital divide, caused by lack of connectivity, is not only violating women’s rights but also hindering their full contribution in all spheres of the society.
To promote full gender balance as well as full participation of women in all spheres of Zimbabwean society, as provided in Section 17 of the country’s supreme law, journalist and gender activist Garikai Mangongera says women need to be empowered technologically.
“Gender inequality remains deeply entrenched in many African societies and many girls and women in Zimbabwe and other southern African countries still do not have equal access to ICT tools,” he said.
“Accordingly, there is need to upscale the number of girls and women who own and use cell phones.”
Mangongera adds that cell phones are important tools for advancing gender equality, women and girl’s empowerment as well as a more equitable and prosperous continent.
Vaidah Mashangwa of the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, says access to ICT tools such as cellphones can be essential for women entrepreneurs in starting and growing a business.
“Women in rural set-ups, for example, can use cell phones to market their farm produce, their crafts and their livestock locally and regionally,” she says.
One project by the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation, adds Mashangwa, helped women in Tanzania to use ICT to develop businesses.
Beneficiaries of the project have described how something as simple as owning a mobile phone can help promote a grocery business as well as attract more clients.
ICT expert, Stalyn Chingarandi, says ownership of cell phones can enable girls and women, especially in rural Zimbabwe to send and receive money through mobile platforms like Eco-cash, Tele-cash as well as One Wallet.
“In line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which states that women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres, owning a simple cell phone can transform the lives of girls and women.
“They can receive life changing messages as well as send and/or receive money via mobile platforms such as Eco-cash, Tele-cash and One Wallet,” he said, adding that instead of travelling to the nearest towns or cities, they can actually cut transport cost by receiving money from their rural homes.”
Chamayou believes giving girls and women cell phones will not only increase gross domestic product of most – if not all – African countries, but will also have a trickle-down effect on numerous industries critical for growth, including agriculture, health, financial services and across-the-board innovation.
“Instances of this correlation are being seen all over Europe,” he says, adding: “One of my favourite examples of how ICT innovation is specifically addressed to women is the Mobile Midwife by the Grameen Foundation, a global non profit organisation that works with government agencies, the private sector as well as civil society to develop mobile health solutions to improve health outcomes for the poor.
“This is a free mobile service that enables women and their families to receive SMS and voice messages in their own language offering relevant and timely information throughout pregnancy and the first year after birth.”
Frankly, ownership of simple ICT tools such as cell phones is essential to women’s empowerment not only in Zimbabwe, but in most countries in southern Africa and other parts of the continent; therefore, policy decision makers and regulators in the region should ensure that girls and women, as well as boys and men, at all social levels and in all countries, can access and use such simple technological tools.
You need to use your head as much as your heart nowadays to be certain you’re giving to the charity that will most effectively steward your contribution. After all, you give because you want to support the cause, not pay for an organization’s overhead or peripheral activities like fundraising.
To make the biggest impact with your dollars, follow these steps.Sharpen Your Focus
Rather than waiting to be asked for a donation by a friend or fundraiser, identify the causes you care about most. “Create a plan with your family to support the things you are most passionate about, and then set yourselves a giving budget,” says Babbie Jacobs, program director of Bolder Giving, a nonprofit focused on helping Americans give more effectively.
The average household donated $2,030 to favorite causes last year, according to the 2015 Giving USA report. That’s a sizable amount—but not when it’s divided among a dozen or so nonprofits. For every gift there are certain fixed costs associated with handling it, so the smaller the gift, the larger the percentage of your donation that goes to transaction and administrative costs. “Keep in mind these charities are investing in you as well,” Jacobs says. “They may be putting you on mailing lists, sending you materials or thank you coffee mugs, and all that may cost them more than you are giving.”
That doesn’t mean you need to limit your giving to just one or two organizations. Bolder Giving recommends using the 50/30/20 rule: Focus half your giving on one charity, or a select few, that are most meaningful to you. Set aside 30% for community gifts—places like your church or synagogue or your children’s school. The remaining 20% goes toward “impulse” gifts, such as unplanned donations to support disaster relief or a friend’s fundraising drive.
If you are just getting into supporting a cause, gifting smaller amounts to several organizations in that space can help you determine which charities’ programs and level of donor engagement you prefer, says Jacobs. And remember, adds Otar Makharashvili, also a program director at Bolder Giving, “any gift is a good gift, no matter how small.”Conduct an Audit
Once you’ve settled on your preferred causes, treat your donation like an investment decision. Investigate the charities you’re considering to be certain they are legit and spending funds wisely.
Your first stop should be GuideStar.org, where you can pull the IRS forms and other financial reports of 1.8 million nonprofits. “You can look at the work they are doing, the money they’ve raised, who is on the board, and other financial information,” says Timothy Seiler, a professor of philanthropic studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Also check out CharityNavigator.org and Give.org, which provide rankings of charities based on their finances, transparency, and accountability. You’ll want to stick with nonprofits that limit their administrative and fundraising expenses to less than 25% of their budget, says Sandra Miniutti of Charity Navigator.
Note that charities that are just starting out or work on marginalized causes that are harder to raise money for may have higher overhead expenses for legitimate reasons, says Seiler. It’s fine to call the charity and ask for more information about this issue. If you can’t get answers that satisfy you, Seiler cautions, then don’t make a contribution.Ask Around
Expense ratios are only part of the picture when trying to determine a charity’s effectiveness. To really find out which ones are doing the best work to support their mission, you’ll need to crowdsource.
Myphilanthropedia.org pulls together experts to recommend and evaluate charities in 31 different areas, while greatnonprofits.org functions as a kind of Yelp of the nonprofit world, offering reviews of the work charities are doing by volunteers, donors, and other beneficiaries.
Other sites such as GiveWell.org, GivingWhatWeCan.org, and TheLifeYouCanSave.org do the work for you by evaluating and testing individual charities to compile their own top-rated list of organizations they think are doing great work, managing costs, and capable of effectively using more funding.
Other easy ways to check out your selected your charity: ask a community of like-minded donors or friends who’ve given to the charity before about their experience, get involved directly by volunteering, or look up their website to see how they spell out their mission and measure progress, suggests Seiler.Commit for the Long Term
When you feel confident in an organization, consider giving to it on a multi-year basis. To really see the impact of your giving, it pays to build up a relationship with the charity you support. You’ll feel more engaged in the the progress of their programs, says Jacobs, and they will know they can count on you.
Many of the top women to ever serve in French government have teamed up to decry the pattern of sexual harassment they say they all experienced.
In an open letter signed by 17 leading women from government, including International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, they say the behavior of France’s male elite must change.
The letter, which appeared in a French newspaper Sunday, states that while their political beliefs span a broad spectrum, they stand united. “We defend different ideas, but we share the will that sexism has no place in our society,”
“As all women who have access to worlds exclusively male-dominated beforehand, we had to suffer and fight against sexism,” says the letter. “It is not the women who need to adapt themselves to those worlds. The behavior of certain men must change.”
The letter follows recent allegations in a book that French Finance Minister Michel Sapin touched a journalist’s underwear during the 2015 World Economic Forum. Sapin denied doing that, but admitted that his “words and gesture were inappropriate,” and apologized.
It also follows the resignation last week of Denis Baupin from his post of vice president of the French National Assembly, after accusations surfaced that he had harassed numerous women between 1998 and 2014. Although he resigned, he has denied the allegations.
The letter complains that many French women who complain about sexual harassment end up losing their jobs. It said that companies need to learn about their obligation to protect their employees from harassment and to punish harassers. It also urged women who are harassed to speak up.
“It happens every day to women in the …street, in the companies, in the universities. It’s enough. Impunity is over. We will no longer remain silent,” said the letter.
“We will denounce systematically all sexist comments, uncalled-for gestures, unappropriated behaviors. We encourage all the sexual harassment and sexual assaults victims to lodge a complaint.”
1Create a safe space: Women in South Asia often have nowhere to gather with other women and talk about issues like gender equity, women’s rights, or health. READ Centers provide a safe, trusted space for women to gather and learn.
“The Center is a safe place for women, and we don’t really need approval from our family to visit.”2Support independence and mobility: Most women in rural Nepal and India have to ask their husbands for permission to leave home. Because of their local READ Center, a large majority of women (75-77%) report being able to freely travel outside of their home unaccompanied.3Teach women to read: If you are illiterate, simple things like reading signs on a road, numbers on a phone, or directions on a medicine bottle make daily life a struggle. READ Centers teach thousands of women to read each year.
“[When I was illiterate], I felt like I was blind. I began to see the world after coming to the library.”
Share this blog post with your family and friends!
4Increase savings and income: 63% of women increased their savings or income after joining savings cooperatives at READ Centers in Nepal. Savings cooperatives allow women to invest money and then take turns receiving micro-loans to start micro-businesses or invest in education for their children.5Teach job skills and seed businesses: Women learn beekeeping, mushroom farming, sewing, and other income-generating skills through training programs at READ Centers. One in five Nepali women report going on to start her own income-generating business after joining a savings cooperative and taking skills training at a READ Center.6Build self-esteem and confidence: A majority of women (58-83%) report that their self-esteem or confidence has increased since coming to a READ Center – helping them to become more comfortable speaking in front of groups and sharing opinions.7Boost decision-making power: About two-thirds of women in Nepal (62%) and India (68%) say that they have greater decision-making power in their homes and communities as a result of coming to the READ Center.
“We were mostly busy doing household activities before… we now can travel outside of the village alone, [earn an income] in our family, and participate in decisions related to our children’s education.”8Impact health: Women report increased influence in their families and communities after receiving training or information from their local READ Center on health care, family planning, domestic violence and reproductive rights. Almost all READ Center users (88-97%) access health information and services at Centers that they would not otherwise be able to access.
“I learned about women’s empowerment, women’s rights, gender equity… Now I can raise my voice against any form of violence…”9Build networks: By building social networks, women have more support and greater opportunities to effect change in their communities. Three-quarters of women in Nepal and half in India and Bhutan report expanding their network through their local READ Center. Women say that once this network is in place, they are emboldened by the knowledge that they are not alone in facing issues like domestic violence, reproductive health or family planning, and that they are inspired to help other women in their community by sharing the knowledge they have learned about these topics.10Create public leaders: In South Asia (particularly Bhutan), women rarely hold public leadership roles. READ Centers provide leadership training for women to increase their presence in the public sphere. 61-65% of women report that they are now able to express their opinions in public or in their home. Women report joining committees, facilitating meetings, participating in protests, raising their voices against violence, and organizing community programs.
“Before joining the Center I had a belief that women were bound to be in the house as housewives. But [now] I realize that… women are also capable of doing everything.”