The “Family” in Philanthropy: Women and Giving

April 30, 2013

Anne Mosle, Executive Director, Ascend

Anne Mosle, Executive Director, Ascend

Today’s Gems of Philanthropy luncheon in Sarasota was an inspiration.

A program of Giving Matters, part of the Southwest Florida chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the annual event inspires women who want to transform their community and our world through philanthropy.

Special guest Anne Mosle, a vice president of the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend, reflected on the power of women—how far we have come and the work we have yet to do.

Sophia Smith’s story makes our progress and our opportunities in giving come alive.  In 1871, Sophia left a bequest chartering Smith College. She used her family fortune of $400,000 to make outstanding education possible for women as it had been for men but not for herself.

The gift was transformative and its impact continues today, but one aspect of “modern” philanthropy could have made the experience more complete for Sophia—the opportunity to frame and celebrate her good work with others.

Anne believes that our greatest individual potential can be uncovered through our work with each other–whether that “family” exists within our circle of friends or in passing the values of philanthropy along to our children.

As we explore how to make a bigger impact together, women’s giving circles can broaden our individual perspectives, amplify what we could do alone, democratize giving, and expand our relationship with philanthropy to encompass mutual joy and achievement.

Pooling resources—dollars, brain power, creativity and collective ideas–will help us do more with giving than we could do alone. And, says Anne Mosle, it can be a lot more fun.

We share a responsibility for what is happening (or not happening) in our own community, and the philanthropic approaches we take are strengthened through collaboration. Similarly, solutions to difficult issues like poverty are more successful and lasting when they include a two-generation approach.

In either case, a healthy dose of respect is essential.

  1. Respect yourself.
  2. Respect each other.
  3. Respect the community.

Congratulations to Giving Matters, the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and all of the people who made the event possible.

Huge kudos to the very accomplished and poised Laura Alston, 2013 Young Woman Philanthropists Award Winner. Knowing that Laura has already set sail into the world of good makes us all sleep better at night.

To steal Anne Mosle’s own words for a moment, we would most definitely classify her as a “SHEro.”  We loved her closing thought: “Women are like snowflakes. Alone we melt; together we stop the traffic.”


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