Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Half the Sky and Women Donors

Kristof and WuDunn’s Half the Sky takes me back to Mumbai and Colombo and Beijing and Tegucigalpa where I’ve listened to stories from women who have suffered--many of whom live to tell their story with a mind-blowing hope that gives me confidence to believe in a destructive force of good that will ultimately strip the power from the evil that tortured them.

Half the Sky guts you with the ravaged vulnerabilities of women and girls but builds a rousing case that women’s power as “economic catalysts” can transform the world.

Kristof and WuDunn focus on unlocking the economic power of women in poverty, and this must happen. But women in poverty have allies in their sisters with resources all over the globe. These woman have been a major source fueling the increase in giving to many of the international causes that rescue and care for the women who tell their stories in Half the Sky.

Turns out that a particularly loyal group of donors are professional women in their late 30’s. According to research by Daryl Upsall and Owen Watkins and reported in the Chronicle of Philanthropy 38-40 year old professional females have staying power as compared to a large percentage of 20-something donors who gave after face-to-face recruitment but stopped giving within the first year.

Human trafficking, gender-based violence and maternal mortality—abuses on which Half the Sky focuses—are complicated, messy and require multi-faceted, multi-sectoral responses.

Donor fatigue can be a threat to sensationalized causes like these that succeed in cashing in on short-lived emotionally driven contributions. Perhaps the faithfulness of this new donor makes her an ally to be cultivated by thoughtful organizations committed to the long-haul. Additionally, many donors are guilty of a willingness to only fund new projects, perhaps this cohort of generous and committed professional women are also more likely to be contributors who stick to longer term efforts freeing up organizational capacity and giving effective organizations the ability to out-run, out-wait and out-maneuver the evil that victimizes with a seemingly bottomless supply of creativity.

-Heidi Metcalf Little
Deputy Director
Center for Global Prosperity

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