FAQ About Women’s Funds

What is a women’s fund?

“Women’s funds seek to achieve lasting community gains by addressing the root causes of social problems and transforming systems, attitudes, and social norms.” ~Women’s Funding Network

Women’s funds aim to help women reach their full potential. They do this by seeking out initiatives that have the same goal and providing them with the funding to fuel their efforts. By investing in various programs, they provide organizations and community leaders with the resources, funds and skills to build women up and give them the confidence to realize that they can reach their greatest potential. Some of the main goals include eradicating issues such as poverty and violence, making healthcare and education more accessible, and providing leadership and development skills as well as economic empowerment. There is also a significant focus on youth development and empowerment.

How did women’s funds begin?

In 1972, editor at Ms. Magazine Gloria Steinem and her co-editors founded the Ms. Foundation for Women, which was the first and largest national women’s fund. The goal was to redistribute profits from the magazine to the efforts of the women’s movement at the time. Then in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, the concept gained momentum. The idea of women’s funds as a way to grant money to facilitate the empowerment and assistance of women became a key topic and women’s funds were founded in the region. Today there are women’s funds in all over the world.

Why are women’s funds important?

An investment in a women’s fund yields a return of the transformation of the lives of women for the better. This betterment of the situation of the women in the community leaves a lasting impact on the communities to which they belong.

According to the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, philanthropy, such as the type that women’s funds provide, serves as a vehicle for relief, improvement, social reform and a positive response that leads to more philanthropy. The good that is supplied by women’s funds is a never-ending cycle of people helping people.

How are women’s funds unique?

  • They focus on qualitative and concrete solutions such as policy changes that contribute to improving societal opportunities for women
  • They are need-based, with the majority of women’s funds supporting programs that provide assistance to women with low or no income
  • They help to kick start new local organizations and efforts
  • Many women’s funds are run for women by women

What are some examples of the initiatives that women’s funds support?

Domestically, organizations such as the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Children’s Futures, Wellesley College, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Smith College, National Women’s Law Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America receive significant amounts of funding.

There are also many international organizations that receive funding, such as the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, the World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

What does the future of women’s funds look like?

Fortunately, most women’s funds are growing in size and revenue. This chart from The Role of Women’s Funds: Accelerating Change for Women and Girls published by the Women’s Funding Network shows this growth:


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