Women, Philanthropy, and Social Change: Visions for a Just Society

Jane Addams, the turn-of-the-century social reformer who started Hull-House on Chicago's Near West Side, wrote in 1902 that "[p]robably there is no relation in life in which our democracy is changing more than the charitable relation...[A]t the same time there is no point of contact in our modern experience which reveals so clearly the lack of that equality which democracy implies." Addams believed that the most effective form of giving is "work that leads to justice." Elayne Clift, the editor of this hefty collection of essays on women, philanthropy and social change, asserts that this perspective inspired, half a century later, the women's funding movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

As Clift, a scholar, writer and journalist who has worked on women's, health, communication, and development issues, notes, the social upheaval of the sixties and seventies caused many women leaders of the period to realize that if they truly wanted to create a movement that would bring about women's equality, they would have to raise the funds to support the movement themselves. Subsequently, during the 1980s, women in growing numbers began to work together to raise money for women's causes and organizations through a variety of philanthropic vehicles.

The essays in this collection are divided into two sections. Part 1 recounts the history of the women's funding movement and examines the motives and practices of women's philanthropies. It includes perspectives on the contributions of volunteerism and the value of partnerships, as well as a critical analysis of the women's funding movement.Part II looks at the relationship between women and social change, the contributions made by women philanthropic leaders, and how technology may change women's philanthropy in the future.

In the book's afterword, social entrepreneur Jing Lyman, a founder and former chair (1978-1980) of Women & Philanthropy, relates the axiom, first encountered years ago in a start-up enterprise magazine, that "Men go into business as a strategy; women enter business as a way of life." Lyman further asserts that women have always been social entrepreneurs —— that their creativity and resourcefulness naturally lead them to connect social needs with economic reality. It's an observation borne out by various essays in the book, in which the authors describe how they or other women developed new ideas to help women and girls more closely align the social and economic roles available to them.

In closing, this collection does a solid job of relating the growth and expansion of the women's funding movement through the eyes of women who were in the forefront of that movement and is essential reading for anyone interested in both the history and future of women's philanthropy.