11 of the Most Influential Female Philanthropists in the U.S.

11 of the Most Influential Female Philanthropists in the U.S.

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Women have exerted their time, capital, and brainpower in supporting charitable causes since the 1800s, and their philanthropic impact has grown markedly during the early part of the 21st century. Consider these figures from 2009-2011 alone:

2009 – Women in the U.S. donate nearly double the percentage of their income to charities than men.

2010 – Homes led by single females account for 57 percent more charitable contributions than those led by single males.

2011 – Women lead or hold equal partnership in 90 percent of donation decisions made in high-net-worth households.

That women outperform men in charitable giving is supported by data more recently compiled by the BMO Wealth Institute. Its numbers confirm that the female demographic in the United States now represents the majority in private wealth control (51 percent), and it also projects that the $14 trillion of wealth held by women in 2015 will reach $22 trillion within the next four years. More disposable income and wealth has translated to more capital dedicated to philanthropy in many cases.

Beyond the numbers, women are setting trends by identifying new and innovative ways to benefit a wide range of causes. The following list of eleven high-power female philanthropists highlights their charitable endeavors and achievements they have made in each:

  1. Tara Ford Spiegel

A successful interior designer at Room By Room, Tara Ford Spiegel is a board member at the Ronald McDonald House. For the latter, she leveraged her background in the entertainment industry and talent management to organize a Masquerade Gala that generated more than $750,000 to aid children with cancer.

  1. Priscilla Chan

Co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Dr. Priscilla Chan supports causes ranging from healthcare to immigration, and in 2013 she helped organize a $1 billion donation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Like other philanthropists such as Tim Cook, Dr. Chan announced plans with her husband to dedicate $45 billion, the vast majority of their wealth, in the coming years in support of various social issues.

  1. Lauren Bush
Lauren Bush
Lauren Bush | Image courtesy | Flickr

Fashion model-turned-philanthropist Lauren Bush is the founder of the FEED Foundation, which sells burlap bags and other products to raise money to feed people who do not have access to sufficient food. Since 2007, she has raised more than $10 million to help those in need around the world.

  1. Julie Sandorf

An advocate for multiple causes, Julie Sandorf has held positions as president of the Corporation for Supportive Housing and co-founder of Nextbook, which supports Jewish arts and culture. Currently, she leads the Charles H. Revson Foundation, where she directs multi-million-dollar grant writing for programs ranging from biomedical research to urban affairs.

  1. Rosario Dawson

Perhaps best known for her work in the movie industry, Rosario Dawson is also an advocate for the Housing Works organization, and she has served as an honorary chair for the Design on a Dime initiative. Through her involvement, she has assisted with securing funds to help more than 20,000 people in New York with low incomes and no homes who have HIV/AIDS.

  1. Julia Fehrenbach

Julia Fehrenbach has amassed years of experience in the non-profit sector, and she currently serves as co-founder at Building Blocks for Change. Ranked among New York’s Top 20 Young Philanthropists, Ms. Fehrenbach organizes fundraising events worldwide in support of the BBFC vision for laying successful social foundations in communities in need.

  1. Jennifer Fisher

A renowned jewelry designer, Jennifer Fisher balances her professional schedule with membership in the Council of Fashion Designers of America and participates in their Fashion Targets Breast Cancer Initiative. Having survived cancer, she now supports the organization, which has generated nearly $50 million for related charities by selling pieces for women to wear in memory of those who have had the disease.

  1. Michelle Javian
rosario dawson
Rosario Dawson | Image courtesy Asim Bharwani | Flickr

Passionate about helping heart patients and the people in their lives, Michelle Javian is the CEO of Harboring Hearts, which she co-founded in 2009. She leads efforts to provide multiple forms of support to people during medical treatment. In addition, Ms. Javian holds a board position at New York Presbyterian Hospital New Leaders.

  1. Jane B. O’Connell

President of the Altman Foundation, Jane B. O’Connell oversees all the organization’s operations for funding and awarding grants in and around New York City. Two notable donations that she has signed include $500,000 to the Fund for Public Schools and $450,000 to the Queens Borough Public Library.

  1. Masha Pearl

Masha Pearl focuses her charitable efforts on helping survivors of the Holocaust who are living in the U.S. She oversees financial assistance programs for these individuals as executive director at The Blue Card, where she has helped expand the number of donors to the organization considerably. Apart from her role at The Blue Card, she sits on the board at Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) Leadership Group, a provider of pediatric heart care for children in countries without modern resources.

  1. Judith Rodin

Judith Rodin is the president at the Rockefeller Foundation, which supports causes nationally and internationally. She has guided the organization’s involvement in responding to such issues as Hurricane Sandy relief, as well as raising money for the Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund.

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