What is a Giving Circle? A giving circle is a group in which each donor has a financial commitment, funds are pooled, and members democratically choose the grantees.
Our giving circle is dedicated to the insight, so powerfully expressed in the book Half the Sky, that the key to peace and economic progress lies in tapping the potential of half the developing world’s resources: women. It turns out the best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower women and girls.
The four appalling realities that prevent women’s full participation in society around the world are: maternal mortality, human trafficking, sexual violence, and routine daily discrimination that cause girls to die at far higher rates than boys. The key tools to fighting these challenges are girls’ education, family planning, micro-finance, and “empowerment” of women and girls. Within these areas we aim to support organizations that:
1. Have proven and efficient means of reaching and sustaining their goals.
2. Have meaningful, local leadership so programs will be well-attuned to the nuances of the community they serve.
3. Have management we believe in, and will use our funds wisely.
4. Are of a size for which our money can make a difference, but have a diversified funding base so that they are not overly reliant on our funding.
5. Are trustworthy and have clear financial reporting.
6. Have the ability to present back to us on their work and progress, either in person or electronically.
The Inspiration for One Sky
The inspiration for the One Sky Giving Circle comes from the wonderful and powerful book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book’s title comes from the Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky.” The name of our giving circle builds on that idea, and reminds us that we all coexist under that one sky, and must work together to, proverbially, hold it up.
As Bill Gates, Sr. wrote in his review of their work, “Kristof and WuDunn’s book lays out the case for why empowering women in the developing world is both morally and strategically imperative. Their essential message is that lifting women lifts the world.”
Here are some key quotes and bits of data that inspire us further:
“One study after another has shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty. Schooling is also often a precondition for girls and women to stand up against injustice, and for women to be integrated in to the economy. Until women are numerate and literate, it is difficult for them to start businesses or contribute meaningfully to their national economies.” -N. Kristoff and S. WuDunn, Half the Sky.
“When a girl has seven or more years of education, she will marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children.” United Nations Population Fund State of the World Report, 1990.
“When 10 percent more girls go to secondary school, the country’s economy grows by 3 percent.” The Girl Effect.
“When women participate in public life, government corruption declines.” The Girl Effect.
“When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.” Chris Fortson, Women’s Rights Vital for Developing World, Yale News Daily, 2003.
This compelling data, among many other supporting data points, led Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to declare that women should be a foreign policy priority:
“When women are free to vote and run for public office, governments are more effective and responsive to their people. When women are free to earn a living and start small businesses, the data is clear: they become key drivers of economic growth across regions and sectors. When women are given the opportunity of education and access to health care, their families and communities prosper. And when women have equal rights, nations are more stable, peaceful, and secure.”