Collection ID: MSS066
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Collection context


Women & Philanthropy
Women & Philanthropy incorporated in 1977 with the purpose of elevating the status of women as decision makers in philanthropy and increasing the amount of funding for women and girls' programs. The organization's research-based advocacy served as the foundation for its agenda. Providing evidence that women were under-represented in a variety of key areas in the field of philanthropy, Women & Philanthropy developed ways to combat the problem and while providing a resource for women in the field to become educators and advocates for their gender. In 2007 Women & Philanthropy ceased as a separate organization and became a special project of the Council on Foundations. Materials in this collection cover the whole of the organization's history from its beginning until its incorporation into the Council on Foundations and provide an excellent resource for understanding the role of women as leaders in the foundation world.
39.4 cubic feet (38 cartons, 2 document boxes, 1 pamphlet box, 5 cassette boxes, and 2 video cassettes)
Materials are in English .
Preferred citation:

Women & Philanthropy Records, 1975-2008, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis.


Biographical / Historical:

In 1975 a group of individuals concerned with women's issues in philanthropy met at a luncheon "for women only" during the Council on Foundations Annual Meeting. This group determined that meeting the needs of women was vital to responsible philanthropy. Two planning conferences were scheduled. During the first, held in 1975, a planning committee for women in foundations was created. At the second, held in 1976, the planning committee affirmed the necessity of a separate organization focused on women and women's issues. The planning committee emerged from the second meeting as the official steering committee for Women in Foundations/Corporate Philanthropy (later renamed Women & Philanthropy) and formally incorporated the organization in 1977.

Women & Philanthropy began as a membership organization comprised of individuals active in the philanthropic community. The Board of Directors operated as the decision-making body of Women & Philanthropy and governed the overall direction and policy of the organization in cooperation with the President and staff of the organization. The board was further divided into committees that included Executive, Membership, Nominating, and Action Research. As the organization expanded its efforts, the paid staff grew to include the President/Executive Officer, program director, and administrative staff.

Initially, the organization operated with a two-fold purpose: to increase the amount of money for programs benefitting women and girls and to enhance the status of women as decision makers in philanthropy. In order to reach these goals, the organization focused its energy on the areas of education and advocacy, research, networking, and membership. Throughout the 1980s Women & Philanthropy developed its programs with these areas in mind. Education and research played a vital role in the initial years of the organization. In an effort to substantiate the premises that women and girls received very small percentages of foundation funding and that women were underrepresented in foundation leadership, the organization undertook a series of research studies. During the course of these research studies, foundations throughout the country were surveyed to determine their giving trends and leadership composition providing evidence that women and women's projects did not receive equal funding.

In 1988 the Board adopted a five-year plan that built on the discoveries of the organization's first decade and recognized that the struggle for equity continued. The following year Women & Philanthropy released Far From Done: The Status of Women and Girls in America; A Survey of Needs and Resources, 1980-1990. This report documented the progress of women and highlighted the need for continued efforts. It also served as the basis for the research efforts of the next five years. As a result of this publication, the organization began the Far From Done campaign under the direction of the Action Research Committee. This program included extensive research about how women in the foundation world viewed their position and foundations' funding of programs for women and girls. The organization released a number of studies focused on the needs of women from diverse backgrounds and challenged those in philanthropy to further expand their support. Through interviews with female foundation executives, surveys of women working in foundations, and secondary research, the organization provided evidence emphasizing the need for gender-conscious funding and hiring in the philanthropic sector. The organization's efforts served as a challenge to increase the representation of women as executives and trustees with the understanding that this would bring about an increase in the dollars granted to women and girl's causes.

By 1994 the Far From Done campaign ended and the organization adopted a new mission: to mobilize the resources of the community to achieve equity for women and girls. While the representation of women in foundation leadership positions increased during the 1980s, funding for women's programs changed very little. Research during the Far From Done campaign determined that barriers existed for women in foundations and prevented them from becoming advocates within their own organizations. With this in mind, the organization developed the Leadership for Equity And Diversity (LEAD) campaign to train and encourage women to become advocates. Unlike the previous initiatives where the organization's efforts focused on a statistical, quantitative approach to change, the LEAD campaign began with an emphasis on qualitative ways to change the culture, leadership practices, and perspectives in philanthropy. In 1997 the LEAD Award was instituted as an annual award recognizing individuals making particular contributions to the improvement of the status of women and minorities.

In 2005 the organization initiated a new long-range planning process to insure the future success of the organization. A partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation developed to study future trends and plans for the organization. As funding difficulties became more pressing, the organization considered the possibility of disbanding. The organization's leadership began negotiations with the Council on Foundations and in 2007 reorganized to become a project of that organization.

Two major outreach components of Women & Philanthropy were its Annual Conference and the Joint Affinity Groups (JAGS). Throughout the organization's history, meetings and conferences were essential to its goal of creating networking opportunities for women in philanthropy. The annual meeting brought together women nationwide to network and disseminate key findings in research. Each year, the organization chose a central theme addressed at the conference and provided a variety of venues for attendees.

The organization also developed a network of foundations and minority organizations. Women & Philanthropy used these contacts to help bring these organizations together as a collective force for change. Both regional groups and Joint Affinity Groups emerged and worked with Women & Philanthropy to educate and inform constituents in their areas of influence of the needs of women and minorities in the field of philanthropy. Throughout the year, in cooperation with these groups, Women & Philanthropy sponsored conferences focused on needs of a specific area or group. Issues included teenage pregnancy, violence against women, cultural awareness, and economics.

Emerging at a time when gender equality in all sectors achieved national attention, Women & Philanthropy sought to raise awareness within its own field and left a lasting legacy for generations to come. Its contribution to the nonprofit sector lay in its research and advocacy efforts on behalf of under-represented groups. By raising awareness of the problem and backing it with solid research, the organization was able to chart growth of women's prominence in the field while providing a venue for achieving gender equality.

Scope and Content:

The Women & Philanthropy Records are comprised of five series: Board of Directors Records, Administration Records, Conference Records, Program Records, and Publications. These materials detail the whole of its history from its inception at an informal luncheon to its restructuring as a special project of the Council on Foundations.

Board of Directors Records, 1976-2006, include the materials related to the governing body of the organization. Specific records include information about board meetings, committees, board members, strategic planning, and board orientation materials. These records are the best resource for an overview of the organization, its programs, and its strategies. The board minutes are complete through 2006. Generally included with the minutes are detailed meeting packets containing reports, and background materials related to the discussion topics.

The committee files contain correspondence, minutes, and reports from different committees convened throughout the organization's history. The best documented committees include the Action Research Committee and Executive Committee. The Action Research Committee began as an umbrella committee overseeing the organization's research projects. This committee's files are a good place to find information about research planning and programs. The Executive Committee was the committee of officers and staff responsible for decision making and governance issues arising between board meetings. The records of this committee include meeting minutes, agendas, and correspondence and are complete through 2004 with only meeting information from 2000 missing.

The final segment of the board records deals specifically with board members. Information about individual board members includes small amounts of correspondence and biographical information. Photographs of several board members are also available.

Administration Records, 1975-2007, contain the business and operating files of the organization. Included in this series are development/fundraising materials, executive officer files, correspondence, financial records, historical information, program officer files, and the organization's transition materials. This is the best place to find information about the internal office operations, fundraising, and executive officer activities. The founding documents, articles of incorporation and bylaws, are also located in these files. An important portion of this series documents the transition of Women & Philanthropy from an independently-run organization to a project of the Council on Foundations.

The largest section of this series is the development and membership files. This segment covers membership recruitment efforts and fundraising for specific projects. The largest portion of the files is from individual foundations. These files include correspondence with foundations concerned with women's issues and are focused on the development of partnerships between the foundations and Women & Philanthropy to promote various projects. Also contained in the foundation files are grant requests and reports.

The Executive Director files include correspondence, biographies, and office files of the organization's leadership. While several of the executive officer's tenures are covered in the general correspondence files, the files of Kim Otis are more extensive and include her both her office files and general correspondence.

The program director files consist of the office files for Carol Barton, program director at the beginning of the LEAD program campaign. Included in her files are correspondence, reports, and notes. These files help trace the beginnings of the LEAD program and give a sense of the ideology behind the program.

Conference Records, 1976-2007, contain the files of meetings and conferences hosted by Women & Philanthropy. Materials included are programs, speeches, correspondence, and meeting packets. The bulk of the records deal specifically with the organization's Annual Conference covering a vast range of topics and issues. The conferences are further documented by photographs and audio recordings.

Smaller conferences held apart from the Annual Conference are also documented. These conferences encompassed a variety of issues of significance to women and minority groups. Topics include health, gender equity, Native American issues, women and the law, women with disabilities, and adolescent pregnancy. The conference materials contain correspondence, programs, agendas, published findings and reports, photographs, and audio recordings.

Program Records, 1976-2008, contain materials related to the activities and research of Women & Philanthropy. These files consist of correspondence, reports, surveys, research, and interviews. Early program information focuses specifically on research and includes information related to education, adolescent pregnancy, career studies, and funding of women and girls' programs. Many of these initiatives are also detailed in the board minutes and in the Publication Files. The later programs more thoroughly documented in this series are Far From Done, the Internship Program, Joint Affinity Groups, LEAD, regional initiatives, and surveys.

The Far From Done project files include surveys of women working in foundations, interviews with female foundation executives, and anecdotes about the status of women as foundation leaders, donors, and grant recipients. Interviews contained in these files transcribed (the audio recordings are not included in the collection) and an excellent source of information about the role women played in foundations and philanthropy during the 1980s and 1990s. The published reports are located in the Publication Records.

Started in 1988, the Internship Program was designed to increase the options available to women of color in the field of philanthropy. Files from the Internship Program include correspondence, publications, and meeting information. While the publications talk of the overall work of the program through newsletters and directories, the actual structure of the program is more thoroughly defined in internship files of the specific regions and states. The best documentation is from North Carolina.

The Joint Affinity Groups (JAGs) were an area of specific interest to the organization. Materials in this program area include correspondence with specific groups and general information about JAG meetings. Reports and summaries related to the JAGs are also located in the board minutes.

While earlier programs focused on proving there was work to do, the organization shifted its focus with LEAD to doing the work. These materials look at the development of the program through correspondence, reports, proposals, and evaluation. One of the main aspects of this program was the LEAD Award that recognized individuals whose contributions helped to improve the status of women and minorities. Materials related to the award include the award nomination files containing interviews with potential recipients, correspondence, and biographies. This not only details the activities of the winners of this award, but also of those making major strides in the field. Information about the LEAD Program is also located in Carol Barton's files.

The organization also maintained strong ties to regional organizations for women in philanthropy and co-hosted events in these regions. The most predominate items in this section are related to the regional meetings sponsored or co-hosted by Women & Philanthropy in the various areas. Materials related to the organization's relationship to the regional organizations include correspondence, programs, and regional meeting information.

Publications, 1977-2007, include published materials, annual reports, membership directories, newsletters, and articles by and about Women & Philanthropy. These publications provide insight into the history of women in philanthropy and their struggle for equality in work and funding. Many of the publications tie directly into the research and programs of the organization, their findings and options for the future. Because several of these projects revisited the issues over a period of time, they are useful to chart progress and changes. The series of annual reports: 1980-1998/99, 2002/03 is complete (reports were not published in the fiscal years covering 1999/00-2001/02). A few volumes of the membership directory are missing although it is difficult to determine which years no directory was published and which years are missing from the collection. Issues of the official newsletter are missing during 1978 and after 2002.

Acquisition information:
Presented by Women Philanthropy,Washington, DC, 2000 2008. A2000/01-016, A2008/09-024
Rules or conventions:
DACS-Describing Archives: A Content Standard
General note:

Rights Statement: The text of this webpage is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).


Women & Philanthropy Annual Reports, 1980-1998/99.

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Women & Philanthropy Records, 1975-2008, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI University Library, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis.

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