Thursday December 1, 2011


Benevolent Women

Tips for the holiday philanthropist

Released by Canadian Women's Foundation


he Canadian Women's Foundation is challenging women to embrace a new holiday gift idea; one of empowerment for women & girls.


During the holidays, Canadians manage to step out of the hustle and bustle of shopping, gift-wrapping, and over-eating to remember those less fortunate.


As a culture we tend to seek ways to help others, but how do we choose the organizations to support that are right for us?


Studies show that finding the right charitable match is especially important for women. More and more, women are taking a pivotal role in strategic philanthropy that benefits women and girls not just during the holiday season, but all year long. Today, women have more financial freedom than at any time in history. They are earning and inheriting more money and are deciding for themselves how to spend that money. The financial power women hold was first felt in the philanthropic world nearly forty years ago in 1972, with the creation of the Ms. Foundation, the first-ever women's fund. Since then, the women's funding movement has become a global phenomenon and is gaining momentum every day.


"Women have a different approach to philanthropy," says Bev Wybrow, CEO of the Canadian Women's Foundation. "Women want their giving to address the root causes of society's issues. They aren't especially motivated by seeing their name on a plaque, but they do care about using their philanthropy to join with others who share their values. They also want their giving to benefit other women and girls, because they believe that creates a ripple effect that benefits whole families and entire communities."


According to Sheila O'Brien, a long time donor to women's causes and Canadian Women's Foundation Board Member, "We can't continue to keep putting band-aids on everything and think it's a sustainable option. At the Canadian Women's Foundation, we don't do that. We aren't focused on "triage". We are focused on "the cure". At the Canadian Women's Foundation I have found a place where my views are resonant and where their views are resonant with me."


Jinger Forde, a passionate donor, who herself lived through economic hardship and was once without a home, is now a role-model for women about what is possible and says, "Women who have picked themselves up and moved forward are now paying it forward. I'm proud that I'm now uniting my strength and resources to do something - it gives me power."


To help you make the choice that is right for you, here are 10 women-friendly tips for the holiday philanthropist.


Respect your own thinking. As women gain financial power and move into positions of leadership, there is a growing respect for the so-called "feminine" values of listening, collaborating, sharing power, building relationships, and emotional intelligence. The impact of these values can be seen in every field, from business to international development. Without women's perspective and active participation, it is impossible to fully understand the nature of social and economic problems or create effective solutions.


Raise your blood pressure, just a little. Give to a cause that makes your heart beat faster. Never give out of guilt or obligation.


Start a giving circle. At your next holiday pot-luck celebration gather your extended family, co-workers, book club, moms' group or friends and pool your holiday donation to make a bigger impact. Talk about how you can help most and find a charity that you can all feel passionate about.


Involve your kids. This year include the little ones in your holiday giving traditions. Give each child their own money from your holiday giving budget, whether it's $5 or $20, and help them find a charity to support that excites them. You can incorporate this spirit of giving all year by allocating a portion of their allowance for helping others.


Help yourself, too. Find a cause that will not only make the world better for others, but for you too.


Curl up with a book on a cold day. Grab a cozy blanket, hot beverage and add a book to your holiday reading list that is about an issue you've always had an interest in.  When you take time to learn more about issues, you can better focus the power of your charitable dollar.


Think long-term. Really long term. While it is essential to feed a hungry person, remember the old saying: "Feed a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." But it's even better to think in terms of future generations: "Teach her how to take care of the river, and her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will never go hungry."


Giving is the new shopping. A gift to charity is always in style, but if shopping is one of your favourite parts of the holiday season why not purchase products with a cause?  Retailers like Winners or HomeSense offer a "Sweet Charity" line of beautiful and affordable gifts that help move low-income women out of poverty through the Canadian Women's Foundation.


Find your tribe. Do you know a woman who has been assaulted? A single mother struggling to make ends meet? A girl who hates her body? Don't believe the myth that women have achieved equality. For every woman with new financial power, hundreds of others face extraordinary barriers. One in seven women in Canada is poor, including 350,000 single mothers who are raising their children in poverty. On average, every six days another woman in Canada is killed by her husband or boyfriend. Every day, over 3,000 women are forced to stay in emergency shelters because they are not safe at home. Give to causes that align with your values, and support organizations that see the world through your eyes.


Dig deep. Give just a little more than is comfortable. A donation in lieu of a traditional, commercial present gives twice. You'll feel great. And your loved ones will too. Isn't that what the holiday season is all about?


About Canadian Women's Foundation 

The Canadian Women's Foundation is Canada's public foundation for women and girls. We invest in the power of women and the dreams of girls. We are a community of individual women and corporate donors empowering women and girls in Canada to move out of poverty, out of violence, and into confidence. We take a positive approach to address root causes of inequality, and study and share best ways to create long-term change. We believe that helping women creates safer families and communities, and a more prosperous society for all of us. Since 1991, we have invested in over 1,100 community programs across Canada. We are now one of the ten largest women's foundations in the world.

For more information please visit



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