Billionaire Lady Philanthropy—A Difference in Store?


May 21, 2013; Fast Company, “Co.Exist”

NPQ likes the question posed by Anya Kamenetz in FastCompany, but is not in love with this article, primarily because of this paragraph:

“But does the tendency to make giving personal really make for the most effective giving? Or does it cut against the grain of impact analysis and bottom-line-driven accountability? The multiple scandals plaguing girls’ schools started by both Oprah and Madonna in Africa are cautionary tales of what can happen when the desire to identify with a cause eclipses due diligence—though arguably they are examples of the weaknesses of celebrity philanthropy, not women’s philanthropy per se.”

Such confusion of observations and assumptions! Just in the last week, NPQ covered the emergence of Laurene Powell Jobs and Sarah Blakely onto the billionaire philanthropist scene, and it will be interesting to see if there is any kind of difference that emerges from their giving behaviors. There is, by the way, a special Women’s Philanthropy Institute set up within the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Its 2012 report is here.

By the way, we are also not happy with the expressed hope that “Powell Jobs, Blakely, and future women who ascend to positions of real power in the nonprofit world will follow the same tendencies that make women, statistically, better investors than men: a lack of overconfidence, a desire for self-control and financial discipline that stops them from chasing a risky market.” So much for innovations, marked as they are by risk.—Ruth McCambridge