9 Female Leaders Offer Advice on How to Rethink Philanthropy

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We often think of philanthropy as a kind of pastime activity for socialites, or those with enough time and money to contribute to the causes they believe in. But the definition of philanthropy is expanding, and now people of all socioeconomic backgrounds can participate. Committees, charity work, fundraising, and activism include people from diverse backgrounds working together towards a common goal. 

CircleAround featured a number of female philanthropists from all walks of life. Here are their words on what philanthropy means to them and how they are fighting to make the world a better place. 

  1. Shannon Bhatia Supports Organizations She Believes In  

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“I'm always on the lookout for new and disruptive organizations with a focus on social impact because I think that's the only reliable way we're going to drive change… At the end of the day, my most gratifying moments come from understanding the needs of people, and rising to meet the challenge of working to make that a priority… That's what we hope to achieve — meeting the requests of motivated, skilled employees by providing them the opportunities to innovate within the social sector and keep their day jobs. Everyone wins, theoretically.” 

- Shannon Bhatia, co-founder of Innovate With

2. Elizabeth Einhart Values Treating All People With Dignity and Respect 

“People with special needs are often discounted. As a society, we have a long way to go to put things right. To treat all people with dignity and respect.” 

- Elizabeth Einhart, executive director and vice president of the Theresa Foundation

3. Kim Polman Places Importance on Loving Herself and Others 

“We do need to love ourselves, and there is this balance that we have to constantly deal with, satisfying our own needs, but then also helping others. That balance is different for each one of us. So we need to respect that in ourselves, but also in others. Listen to others to learn what they need, have courage, and take action when possible.” 

- Kim Polman, co-founder of Reboot the Future

4. Rhiana Gunn-Wright Suggests Joining Movements Already in Motion 

“I always point people to local organizations, because often they have been fighting about specific issues for a long time. You can learn a lot from activists and be part of something bigger than yourself by taking part in movements already set into motion. You can say, ‘This thing moves me the most, and this is what I want to work on.’” 

- Rhiana Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the Roosevelt Institute

5. Cydney Koukol Prioritizes Corporate Responsibility

“We have always encouraged our colleagues to take time to volunteer and we understand that much of that will take place during a workday. Last year, we added a full day that each colleague can spend volunteering for their favorite non-profit.” 

- Cydney Koukol, executive vice president of communities at Talent Plus, Inc.

6. Verneda Adele White Works Toward Inclusion and Equality in Her Industry

"The depths of systemic racism plays out at every level of the fashion industry in terms of a lack of representation, opportunities and equity for people of color. As we push to address sustainability in our environment, it can only be achieved long-term by a meaningful commitment to creating opportunities for inclusion and equity, from designers and labor to marketing and retail.” 

- Verneda Adele White, social entrepreneur and event director

7. Eva Haller Thinks About Her Personal Mission and Goals To Enact Change 

“I always regret what I cannot do, and so I tried very hard to justify my existence...This is probably the most important part of my philosophy: how do you validate yourself? How do you justify your existence? There is always more we can do, and so we must justify our existence as much as possible. Otherwise, what are we doing? How are we changing the way the world thinks?” 

- Eva Haller, Holocaust survivor and philanthropist 

8. Gloria Walton Says Become the Leader You’d Like To See

“All too often, we simply accept that the people we elect are leaders — as opposed to seeing ourselves as leaders, too. So to witness a moment when someone claims their leadership and owns their power, their voice, and their story — this moment is transformational. It changes the perspective of people sitting in a room, it helps to pass a policy that protects their community or prevents a toxic site from being built in their neighborhood. These are moments that expand the very meaning of leadership and power — and who has the power to affect change.” 

- Gloria Walton, president and CEO of The Solutions Project

9. Laura Bulluck Sets a Positive Example for Others To Follow

“When you work so hard to impact the lives of women, community, and the world, I have learned that someone is always watching, learning, and placing value on the contributions you are making.” 

- Laura Bulluck, founder of Hope's Crossing

Tags: Philanthropy, Women in Business

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA, and we make financial distributions to benefit the next generation of Girl Scouts. We strive to make the world a better place by supporting each other today and emboldening the women leaders of tomorrow.

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