Women in Philanthropy
In our latest philanthropy podcast - released in the week of International Women’s Day 2022 - we discuss the growing and evolving role of female donors, and why addressing gender inequality is so important.
Juliet Agnew, our Head of Philanthropy, is joined by two speakers at the forefront of supporting female causes - Swatee Deepak, an experienced advisor to Foundations and Families; and Sonal Sachdev Patel, who is CEO of her family’s foundation, the GMSP Foundation.
At a time when female wealth holders are becoming more prominent and more proactive, the podcast is a timely exploration of motivations, challenges, and lessons learned.
You can stream this podcast by scanning the QR codes with your smartphone camera or clicking the buttons below.
Juliet Agnew: Hello, and welcome to this Barclays Private Bank Philanthropy podcast, a series which shines a light on personal stories, trends and approaches that are shaping the landscape of giving.
My name is Juliet Agnew and I run the philanthropy service at Barclays Private Bank. Today, during the week of International Women’s Day, I’m delighted to be talking about an exciting development which is women in philanthropy, the new approaches that they’re taking and the lessons from this, and more broadly the case for supporting women and girls.
I’m really pleased that we’ll be joined by two experts with hands-on experience who are leading the way in this space.
First, we have Swatee Deepak, who works as an advisor to Foundations and Families. Swatee was previously Director of the With and for Girls Collective, the world’s only fund administered by and for adolescent girls, and prior was Director of the Stars Foundation. She’s a founding member of several collectives working across philanthropy and social justice movements. She’s also a practitioner in residence for LSE’s Marshall Institute and serves on the board of the Global Fund for Children and EMpower.
Secondly, we have Sonal Sachdev Patel, who is CEO of the GMSP Foundation, a family foundation established by her parents in 2006. GMSP takes a values-led approach to supporting frontline organisations in the UK and India that are advancing the rights, dignity and happiness of the communities with whom they work. Sonal serves on the UK board of Dasra, a strategic philanthropy advisory organisation in India, and acts as an advisor to both UK and Indian-based charities. Welcome to you both.
I’m delighted to be covering this topic of women and philanthropy, not only because it’s a very personal one, obviously, but it’s also very timely. We’re living through a moment in time where wealth demographics are changing, they’re shifting. We’re seeing more prominent female philanthropy happening globally, and we’re noticing that women are tending to give in a different way, and I think there are real lessons to be learnt here.
But it’s also an interesting time because the crises of the past year have really laid bare the realities facing women today, which are complex. On the one hand, more women are leading the way and wielding their wealth for good. But on the other, disadvantaged women and girls are falling behind in troubling ways. We’re seeing millions of girls dropping out of school, violence against women increasing, and the poverty rate for women worldwide increasing significantly, just under 10% according to statistics, during the pandemic.1
These are some of the realities and stories that sit behind the headlines and may not be visible to everyone. So on that note, I’m going to kick off with questions for Swatee.
Swatee, given your experience, what is the case for philanthropy to support women and girls’ issues? And why is this still so important now?
Swatee Deepak: Thanks so much for inviting me on to this podcast, Juliet, with you and with Sonal. I think it’s a really good question to ask, and I think whenever we are working through philanthropy and asking ourselves, what are some of the inequalities that we want to address – gender inequality is one of the oldest and the most pervasive forms of inequality in the world. It denies women their voices, it devalues their work, and it makes women’s position unequal to men’s from the household to national and global levels.
While there has been a lot of emphasis, a lot of work that’s been done to address gender equality, and here we are celebrating International Women’s Month and International Women’s Day, there’s no country that women have achieved economic equality with men, and women are still more likely than men to live in poverty. Some of the statistics that you mentioned earlier, just to add to those, are very sobering.
So, only 49% of countries have actually achieved gender parity, which means equal access for boys and girls to primary school education. So almost 130 million girls are not in school2. 80% of people displaced by climate change are women and girls3. Every 10 minutes, a girl dies as a result of violence4. There are only – and I find this so hard to believe – but only 10 countries in the world give women all the same legal rights as men.5
And, as you mentioned, COVID exacerbated a lot of these inequalities. So, according to the UN and the World Bank, an additional 47 million women fell into poverty in 2021 as a result of COVID6. So whilst we have made a lot of gains and a lot of changes, there is a real case for continuing that progression and also addressing this huge rollback that’s happened specifically because of COVID and the factors around it.
So, wherever you are as a philanthropist, or working in philanthropy as a foundation, if you’re interested in solving any form of inequality, gender plays like an important role. So whether you look at poverty, at health, at education, livelihoods, violence, climate change, there is a gendered component and dimension to all of that, and statistics show you that that is the case.
Juliet Agnew: Thanks, Swatee. Some really sobering statistics. I just wanted to reflect on the other side of the coin here, which is this rise in female philanthropy that we are seeing. So, some of our listeners may have seen in the press some high profile examples, for example, Melinda French Gates and her philanthropy, MacKenzie Scott. I’m wondering if you can talk us through what you’re seeing in terms of the trends here? And any useful lessons that you think we can glean from the ways that women give?
Swatee Deepak: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s great to know that women now control a third of the world’s wealth and that’s increasing. So, according to statistics, they’re adding $5 trillion per year to the wealth pool7. And a lot of that I think is also to do with women’s access to rights. They, more women are able to work and earn that money, but they’re also able to inherit and keep a hold of that wealth, more than any other time in history before.
So, you are seeing more and more women philanthropists. There was research done actually, by Fidelity, that nine in 10 women want to do more to create social change in the world and they actually cite philanthropy as a significant part of their lives.8
So, whilst you’re getting more women who are increasing the wealth pool, you’re also getting a huge number of them that are citing philanthropy as really, really important. And when I look at the sort of trends of how I see a lot of female philanthropists specifically coming into this work, you can see a lot more women are working collaboratively with one another. So they access a lot more personal networks, other female philanthropists, others that are working in this space.
Sonal and I have been part of a group of wonderful, incredible philanthropists and people working in philanthropy who have really been sharing these journeys of giving, getting advice from one another, discussing dynamic strategies, just sounding out, and actually that’s a trend, although experienced personally, I can also see across the sector.
So, you have networks that are specifically geared at women coming together to inform each other about philanthropy, or even moving money in a more collaborative way as well. So, sort of pooling their resources together to invest into some of that. And you can see that at all levels. So, you had mentioned Melinda French Gates or MacKenzie Scott. I think it’s really interesting to see that they are both working together.
You know, they cite one another, they follow a lot of each other’s trends in philanthropy. And I think what I love about those two philanthropists’ approach to the way that they’re giving at the moment is that they are both working in a trust-based philanthropy way and that means that they are, their relationship with who they’re giving to is built on a foundation of trust.
So they’re giving unrestricted money which means funding for core support of organisations, so not project-based funding, not sort of saying, well, I want the money to go to these specific issues, but seeing the project as a whole and wanting to invest in the organisation in that kind of core support way.
They are also funding groups that are led by the most marginalised, giving groups that room to grow, and also you can see that they’re really funding in the Global South. And those are groups that statistically we know have not been receiving the kind of massive flow or, or the largest proportion of resources.
The other thing that I see a lot of women philanthropists doing is also that they’re really open to learning. They welcome that learning. They’re also documenting and sharing the ways that they’re learning and they enjoy being challenged on what they’re doing.
They’re really open to the fact that they don’t want to get things absolutely right in the first strike, they understand that a relationship that’s based on trust with organisations also means an openness to critique and an ability to change with that. They’re also, I think, reframing what risk means. So usually we look at risk from, you know, philanthropically from a fiduciary or a legal perspective.
And whilst those factors are important I think a lot more female givers are asking the questions, well, what’s the risk of not resourcing this work? What if we don’t do this, what are we going to lose? What more are we going to roll back on?
And one of the things that I also think about is a conversation actually just last week that I had with Ai-jen Poo, who leads the National Domestic Workers Alliance in the US. And she was sort of drawing on the example of the film Hidden Figures, if either of you have seen it.
So it’s, you know, about these incredible black women who literally worked at NASA and put people on the moon. And I think what she sort of drew from that was when you watch the film, you really see every single form of inequality that these women have to face because they’re women, because they’re black, because they’re living in segregated America at the time. And yet, they persisted through all of those inequalities to put someone on the moon.
And when we think about what the world could look like if we were to remove those barriers of inequality, that are caused by compounding issues such as race or such as gender, just think if they didn’t have to go through all of those changes, what more could be possible, what more we could achieve, what more they could achieve. And I think that’s an invitation that you see a lot more female philanthropists leaning into is really thinking about not just addressing some of the issues, but also focusing on what are these incredible possibilities that are in front of us. What more could we be dreaming, achieving, reimagining in the future if this was to happen?
Juliet Agnew: Thanks, Swatee. Really interesting insights there. And I think just to build on that point, the rise of sort of more collaborative philanthropy really lends itself to that kind of creative thinking. It’s something that I’ve seen and actually something I spoke to another female philanthropist about, an amazing lady called Cristina Ljungberg who I interviewed in December, she talked about the creative support you get from working with other philanthropists, you get a lot more inspiration.
And the thing is that you can get quite isolated as a philanthropist. That’s something especially when you’re starting on the journey, you don’t often realise how isolating it can be but when you actually work with your network, so many rich possibilities are there when you can leverage off the inspiration and the connections and the network of that collective group.
One of the things you mentioned was women getting more involved, I think as I understand it, in the root causes of issues as well, and thinking more about the system rather than just, for example, funding a project, but thinking a bit bigger than that. And I think there has been more philanthropy getting involved in not just project funding but social movement funding, for example, and ecosystem funding. Can you explain how and why donors might support this kind of work?
Swatee Deepak: Yeah, absolutely. I also just want to acknowledge that this is coming out on International Women’s Day, and I think for those of you that might not know the history of it, actually, International Women’s Day is celebrated because the origin of this day goes back to women garment workers who actually organised together in New York to demand better working conditions and draw attention to women’s rights.
And I think I just want to draw on that because whilst we’ve talked about all these horrific statistics around, you know, the inequalities that women and girls face around the world, it’s also really important to know that they have always been organising, they’ve always been demanding and asking for something better.
Social movements don’t just go, well, we need to change the legislation around girls, you know, getting into child marriages. They actually address all the ecosystem that allows girls to be married and keeps that OK in society. So they will address some of the policy changes or the legal changes that are needed, but they’ll actually work in communities with people to sensitise them that it isn’t right to get your child married.
It’s, you know, you should be sending children to school, you should be addressing some of those kind of root causes that stick at the core of why people can’t actually access those changes. And when you look at the greatest changes that we’ve achieved in the world, they have been as a result of social justice movements. So think about the Civil Rights Movement, think about climate change at the moment.
And actually philanthropy traditionally, largely has taken a short-term focus to those long-term issues. So, a lot of projects just address some of the symptoms of deep-seated problems, such as giving girls access to school or helping place women in jobs, instead of really understanding what prevents girls from going to school or why women are not able to travel far for work, the harassment that they may face going to work.
And also, if that woman is able to work, does she even have the legal right to have a bank account to be able to, to get her savings, to be able to have a right over what she earns as well. And that’s why, you know, looking at the ecosystem approach is a much better way of thinking about, and also accelerating all the other investments that you might have in philanthropy.
And in terms of some of the ways that I’m seeing how philanthropists can do something to actually support social justice movements, in some research from The Bridgespan Group and Shake the Table, they’ve really been looking at this dynamic and really how can philanthropists lean into social justice movements. It’s really asking some of the questions, who has privilege and power in this dynamic of where I’m putting my money? Who’s making some of those decisions? Whose narrative is dominating? Whose voices are missing? What are the origins of why these are problems in these communities?
The next area is really about how can you actually fund feminist funds that exist in the Global South that are really working at the root of those communities? And the Global South, what I mean by that is countries outside of, you know, the developed OECD nations to some extent. When you look at global aid flow, only 1% of all philanthropic funding actually goes direct to the Global South, which when you look at where all the issues are in the world, is a huge issue.
Another one is really around shifting your practices. So how can you actually expand some of your sourcing as a philanthropist? How can I find these groups? And other philanthropists are also asking or maybe addressing some of the same things. So how could you be asking some of your peers and others around who they’re giving to and why.
And also I think the last is measuring what matters. I think what’s different to funding social movements, as opposed to projects, or funding in a way that addresses the ecosystem is that change takes time and you can’t necessarily measure in these like one to three-year cycles the change that’s happened or occurred. So, really being in that dialogue or that relationship with communities allows for you to actually measure what matters.
Juliet Agnew: Thanks, Swatee. That’s really interesting insights and practical tips there. I’d like to turn over to Sonal now. Sonal, you’ve had personal hands-on experience managing a foundation and your family’s foundation too, so that must have been an interesting journey. So I’d like to start just by asking you, please, how did you come into this work?
Sonal Sachdev Patel: Hi, Juliet. Well, I started my career in strategy consulting, which was a really good grounding for me, but when I look back and think about when I joined our family foundation, I realise how naïve I was. And I thought that all you needed was a strong strategy, a clear implementation plan, and a great team, and that progress would surely follow. My parents had set up GMSP Foundation in 2006 and they were giving project-based support in Gujarat, which is where our family is originally from.
And I had the option of joining the family business like I guess a lot of multi-generational families do, but my heart lay in the work of the Foundation so I was really fortunate to take the lead under the vision of my parents in about 2015.
Juliet Agnew: I’m really curious as to how that journey has gone. You’ve mentioned some interesting family dynamics there, all the naivety that you had in the beginning, so can you talk me through some of your approach that you take with the Foundation and what you’ve learnt along the way?
Sonal Sachdev Patel: Yeah, sure. I feel like I’ve learned so much and it’s hard to kind of distil it down, and I continue to learn every day. But I think if I try and sum it up to three broad areas, the first is something that Swatee reflected on as well. It’s the importance of being open to learning and evolving your own views. I think that we put this pressure on ourselves as philanthropists to kind of arrive at the table knowing the answer, partly because, you know, we may have been successful at some other area of life and it feels almost shameful to come and say, do you know, I really don’t know how to solve these problems.
I’ve got this foundation, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it. So I have found that a great learning has been listening to the people that have experience working on the frontline and, and mainly people with lived experience. So, for example, in the UK, we fund work in homelessness and historically we never asked the question, does the organisation have lived experience of people that have been homeless?
Because if you have slept with your head on the pavement, you understand homeless in a completely different way to someone who may have studied it, and studied the factors around it, and written a report on it. And so I think listening to those voices is really important and accessing the right people. It’s the same if you look at communities. We know that the majority of homeless people come from black and minoritised communities9, so where are they in leading the organisational response to that? And, and those are the voices that we should be listening to.
So we as philanthropists can be asking questions like, where is this representation on your board? Where is it in your senior management team? So that’s sort of an important learning. And I think particularly in the last two years, I have learned the importance of examining the unconscious biases that sit within myself, and that although I’m a woman of colour and I’m the daughter of immigrants, I recognise that I’ve grown up with great privilege.
And this really affects the way that I look at the world, my education, the fact that I worked in a multi-national consulting firm, it impacts the way that I like people to communicate to me, what I think is good, in inverted commas, and bad. And examining these complex topics of race, of gender, of class, privilege, power, it takes time and it’s really uncomfortable to, to question it in yourself.
But I know that if we as philanthropists want to do more and address more of the symptoms that, you know, you’ve both talked about, and not just look at the short-term issues, then we have to do this difficult work. And only then will we begin to dismantle these structures of power and imbalance that exist right in front of our eyes but, you know, which sometimes not knowingly, but unknowingly I think we haven’t been aware of.
The second thing I wanted to talk about, just because I think again it’s one of those things that we shy away from, is the topic of family dynamics. So, I think when it comes to family businesses, we can be more proactive about addressing the fact that it maybe, say, parents and children working together or siblings working together. And I’m really lucky to have very open and supportive parents, but I find it incredibly helpful to put a structure around how our Foundation works.
And so we have clear roles and responsibilities and accountability, and that’s still anchored in the love and the trust that we have for one another and that run through our approach to philanthropy. But it means that everybody knows what to expect, and we can step out of the roles that we have within the family dynamic and kind of step into slightly different roles within the Foundation. And so that is something I would advise other family foundations to really be brave about thinking about.
And the third thing that I’m continuing to learn is to not be fearful. And again in the sort of self-reflection of examining how I approach my philanthropy, I realise that actually I’m fearful of a lot of things. I’m fearful of getting it wrong. I’m fearful of not making a difference when it matters the most. I’m fearful of saying something that’s politically incorrect, particularly when I’m around a bunch of activists who I feel like they know so much more than me.
I’m fearful of letting down women and girls who I know are in a much more difficult position than I am, through no fault of their own. And I’m fearful of disappointing my parents and their legacy. It sounds like such a long list, but I think it just encourages me when I recognise those fears to say, take the example of those women that are on the frontline and be a little bit brave. Look how brave they are. And I think, you know, we’ve talked about MacKenzie Scott and some of the other amazing examples of brave female philanthropists.
I think we have to be really mindful to say, I’m going to approach this as a female because we have to celebrate who we are and we have something really unique and authentic to offer. And I think also in philanthropy, if we understand where we sit in the funding landscape, we can see that, actually, there is an opportunity for us to take a little bit of risk.
And again, I’m not comparing that to the risks that frontline grassroots leaders are taking, but more in terms of we don’t necessarily have shareholders, we don’t have customers, so we can fund more difficult work. So, for example, at GMSP Foundation, we give unrestricted funding in the long term and we fund work that’s complex, where results take time and it isn’t easy to track what the results are.
And then lastly, I wanted to talk about a specific example that I’ve had of fear, which is that historically, I was really afraid to lead with our values, and I think that it comes back to this whole, perhaps, imposter syndrome that many philanthropists have, where I felt like I wore two hats. This one hat which was the hat that I should be professional and I should show off to the world, and here’s our theory of change and these are the metrics we have, and this is what we’re tracking, and aren’t we so clever? And then this other hat which was, no, this is the reality of who I am.
But I realise that it's the values of our family that really underpin our Foundation, and those are values of trust and love and humility, and they’re so authentic to us because it’s who we are, so we’re not having to pretend to be something that we’re not. And it’s that feeling of shared humanity, or what I like to call spiritual solidarity, that when you see other human beings as part of your own family then the way that you look at your philanthropy changes.
Juliet Agnew: Thanks, Sonal. I think a lot of philanthropists feel that. I hear it sometimes from the clients that I work with that people are worried about getting it wrong, they’re worried about not coming across like they have all the answers. And I think it has to be OK in philanthropy for us to not have the answers and for us to be asking questions, and for that to be the starting point. We have to be able to get it wrong sometimes even with all the good intent. Failure is part of growth, failure is part of innovation and creativity.
I did want to ask you if you could try to hone in on what tips you would have for other donors, others who are interested in getting involved in philanthropy or even if they are already doing philanthropy what would you suggest to them would be your top tips for having more impact and for giving in a more trusting way based on some of the conversation that we’ve had today?
Sonal Sachdev Patel: Thanks, Juliet. That’s a question that I often ask other people, like give me your top tips. And in fact that’s the question that we ask our grantee partners, tell us what to do differently, tell us how we can be better. Please, you know, coming back to this power dynamic, please don’t feel like you can’t tell us because if you don’t tell us, we will never get better.
Why should a philanthropist know the answer? They haven’t grown up in that community, they haven’t grown up, maybe they have, but most likely they haven’t, they haven’t experienced those issues. There’s no reason you should know the answer. So I will distil to you what I have learned from our grantee partners and other people sort of working in the area, and I’ll try to be as practical as possible.
So the first thing is to think about your interaction with your grantee partners. And a specific example of that, which we’ve evolved over some time, is our grant form. So we’ve really simplified that down because some of our partners tell us, we spend two out of 12 months of the year filling in application forms for funding that, you know, asking us questions that are really irrelevant to our work. So our form is really simplified. Some of it we can fill out for them. You know, their time, whatever time they’re using filling in these forms is taking them away from the actual work that they’re meant to be doing.
And then rather than requiring lengthy reports each year after funding, we have update calls with them, and I find that that is so much better of a way of forming a deep relationship, but also understanding what they’re doing and learning how else we can support their work. And again, I think with reference to what Swatee said earlier, this helps us to think around what is this power dynamic like? Are we as open and transparent with them as we expect them to be with us?
Do we just pick up the phone every year and say, you know, can we get on a call, like what’s our relationship like? And that kind of leads me to my second tip which is to think about impact, which sounds like a funny thing to say because I think philanthropists are so obsessed with talking about impact and it’s a little bit of a bugbear of mine, not because of course we don’t want to make a difference, of course we’re in this business because we want to make a difference, but I think we have to ask ourselves if the impact metrics that we’re asking for are actually indicative of change.
When you form this relationship with your partners then you begin to understand the complexity of the work that they’re doing. So for example, we work with black and minoritised women in the UK that face violence, and we know that BME and migrant women experience higher rates of domestic abuse-related homicide and that they’re three times more likely to commit suicide than other women in the UK10.
And of course that is really important data to know, but asking a counselling service to show how many women they’ve spoken to is almost meaningless because it doesn’t take into account so many factors. And if you look at the kind of issues that we’re all working on, then you think about how could you plot a graph of human dignity for example, how can you measure the value of someone feeling safe? And I think that we’ve become so obsessed with centring impact metrics that we’ve forgotten that we need to centre human beings in our work.
And I’m not discounting the importance of impact in certain areas. Of course, looking at the number of girls that go to school, of course looking at attainment rates are important factors, but there are certain areas where philanthropy plays a really central role, where impact metrics just really don’t give you the full picture. So that would be my second top tip. Look at the impact metrics that you’re looking at. Look at the work you’re doing. And talk to the people who are running the organisations. They know the answers, so just ask them and they’ll tell you.
The third thing, which again Swatee mentioned, is think about funding unrestricted and think about funding for the longer term. I think we’ve made good progress over COVID. I’ve seen a lot of organisations say that we’re going to move on to unrestricted funding which is wonderful, but I think that there is room for us to do a lot better and to really commit to the issues that we care about. At GMSP, we offer separate wellbeing funding for all of our partners because we recognise that without resilient organisations, this work can’t happen.
When we have these update calls with our partners, I go away feeling sometimes so drawn of energy because I can see how difficult the fight is that these organisations are doing day in and day out, and they have been doing it for so many years, that it just, it eats into your soul, honestly. And so understanding that funding wellbeing support is hugely important and it also is a step towards that solidarity.
It’s like I’m not just going to fund the line items on your bank statement. I understand that when you have to cancel 10 women a day who’ve faced the most horrific forms of violence that that has an impact on you as a human being and then when you go home to your children, you go home as a different person. So how can I invest in you as a whole person? And again, that feeds into this value of spiritual solidarity that we’re not machines, you know, we’re human beings, we have feelings, we have thoughts, we have dreams, so how can we really meet these organisations and be a real support to them?
So that sort of leads me nicely onto my fourth top tip, which is you’re more than just your money. Your expertise and your network and your access, these are things that are so hugely valuable to the cause – bring your whole self. And I think that is what gives real joy when, in philanthropy it isn’t about necessarily giving funding away and, let’s be honest, we only give the funding that’s in excess of what we need. It’s only when I think when you give of yourself that you have that real satisfaction.
And the fifth point sort of stems out of that self-reflection I talked about at the beginning, which was thinking about why are you doing this. Of course we want to make a difference, but digging deep down, is it something that happened to you that makes you want to give? Is it your ego that makes you want to give? Is that why we have done project funding for so long, because when you’re funding movements you can’t say, oh, I did that. I was responsible for that school. I’m the one who, you know, who was instrumental in that law changing.
Or is that you want to create a legacy? Is it a fear of leaving this world without having had an impact on it? Is it guilt from all the wealth that you’ve inherited? What is it that is driving you to give away this funding? Because I think not only does that help us as philanthropists get the best out of what we’re doing, but it really helps our grantee partners, because I think the worst thing that I see is when funders just get up and change their mind and they say, sorry, we’ve had a change in strategy.
Actually, we’re not funding girls’ education any more, we’re going to fund sanitation, you know, we’ve had a different decision. And there’s no sort of understanding that the grantee partner doesn’t know what is going on in your head. If you can understand yourself, then you can be really clear and communicate to your partner, this is where I’m coming from, this is the change I would like to see. This is what I can give and this is what I can’t give. So I’m really honest with our grantee partners and I say, I’m a mother and I have young children, so I don’t have bags of time to give.
So I don’t think it’s about, you know, you have to be everything to these grantee partners but I think when you’re honest with yourself you can then be honest with other people and that is where you’ll see a step change in your philanthropy and that’s when I think we’ll go beyond funding a school or funding this particular organisation. So that was a lot but those are the sort of, I tried to boil it down into five tips.
Juliet Agnew: Thanks, Sonal. There’s so much rich material there and I love what you’re saying about really, you know, asking honest questions and bringing your whole self, and being really honest about why you’re doing this, because I think often we get so caught up in the doing that we don’t often take as much time as possibly we need to reflect deeply on those questions and really understand the impact that it can have when you truly do start interrogating yourself that way and asking those kinds of questions.
So we’ve had some really fascinating insights today and we’ve covered a lot of ground. So I’m going to open it back out again just to Swatee and Sonal, just to share any final reflections based on the diverse conversation we’ve had today. Swatee, can I hand over to you?
Swatee Deepak: Sure. Plus one to everything that Sonal said earlier as well. Lots of learning and reflections I think that are reflective of no matter where you are in philanthropy. So I would say final two things from me, one is authenticity is really powerful as a philanthropist. So share your learning journey and your limitations as well as a funder, so that it can actually encourage conversations of learning and adapting versus failure and successes, amongst one another.
And also I think the acknowledgement that change takes time and whilst we feel that a lot of these issues are urgent and they require our attention now, and of course they do, it’s important no matter where your starting point, that you actually commit to the work and make that kind of generational investment of your time, your resources, or your money.
Juliet Agnew: Thanks. Sonal, over to you.
Sonal Sachdev Patel: Yeah, I would just sum up, I suppose, by going back to what I started talking about at the beginning that change begins within each of us individually, and that we must push ourselves out of our comfort zones and question our biases, our privilege, our power, and our own views on gender, race, wealth, and class because it’s only then that we’ll see the kind of systemic change that will really make a difference.
But I do feel really hopeful about the future of women in philanthropy and my favourite quote is Arundhati Roy where she says, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
Juliet Agnew: Thank you. That’s beautiful. Thank you to all my guests today and our listeners. I hope you found the discussion inspiring and practical. We’ve covered a lot of ground. We’ve talked about the exciting rise in female philanthropy, we’ve talked about social movements. We’ve talked about family, privilege, power, fear, and we’ve also covered the issue of why it’s so important to continue to support issues facing women and girls globally, and we hope you take away some practical insights and tips from today to bring in to your own philanthropy.
Look out for our next Philanthropy podcast where we’ll bring you more fascinating speakers to discuss how your giving can make a meaningful impact in the world.
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