The first time I made a monetary donation, I was in the third grade. The nuns at my primary school were collecting money for the "Poor Children's Fund." I listened to the stories the nuns told about the less fortunate children and how they couldn't afford education and the supplies they needed to learn. I felt compelled to give. All I wanted to do was help.
They would pass around a silver tin box and ask us to give our spare change to the fund. I was too young to carry money, but I wanted to do something. When I went home, I asked my parents for donations for the fund. Before they gave, they asked, "Why is giving this gift important to you?"
Looking back, I appreciate the lesson my parents aspired to give me. They wanted me to see that philanthropy is about giving money to work that is important to me. It is a philosophy I have applied all throughout my career and in my personal philanthropy.
I use a strategic approach to donate money to organizations that support women and girls. My giving funds work that is providing solutions. I do this for two main reasons; women are more likely to reinvest in their community and women and girls issues only receive 7.3 percent of philanthropic money. For me, this sheds light on the incredible impact and need for directing support to nonprofits that improve the lives of women and girls. If women don't support other women, who will?
The women's funding movement has had an incredible influence on how we view philanthropy. Women's movements, especially here in the United States, were a catalyst for growth within the nonprofit sector. Women's funds brought attention to social and economic issues that weren't "mainstream problems" by providing the financial resources to address them. In fact, the women's funding movement has changed what we know of philanthropy altogether.
Organizations like the Ms. Foundation and the Women's Funding Network have helped the world understand the connection between economic security, health and social issues such as domestic and sexual violence. They also have served as a key motivator for women trying to understand why they should donate and how to get involved.
Women look at philanthropy as their "duty." Recently published work shows that more women also understand the connection between money and systemic change. Studies indicate that women give more than their male counterparts, are more actively involved, and require an understanding of where their dollars are going.
And like me, women give because they want to make a difference in the lives of others. They see their philanthropy as a way to inspire the next generation. During this charitable season, donate to an organization that is working to improve the lives of women and girls and you will make a difference in communities.
Follow K. Sujata on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ChiFdn4Women