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Philanthropy is no longer the preserve of the ultra-wealthy as more women from various walks of life are taking up the philanthropic role. Eager to make a change in the world, these women are using philanthropy to push positive change by contributing their money, time, leadership and experience to social enterprises and charities.

Women’s role in philanthropy has changed since the 19th century. In times of war and disaster, women would often give their time to assist wounded soldiers and their families. Wealthy women, in particular, could often be found volunteering and donating to assist the poor in society and widows. The Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children, for example, was one such organisation in the late 1700s that supported hundreds of women and children.

A century later, organisations formed that supported women by providing education and training. In these times, female philanthropists were accepted by society, with much of their giving tied to their family or spouse’s wealth. Through philanthropy, women in those days played active roles in issues of public and social interest, helping to shape attitudes on family and society through their commitment to various causes.

Modern Times

The rise of the non-profit sector in the economic market has helped to provide women with a platform to lead and provide support to societies around the world. In places such as the United States, women have played a key role in the development of the formal non-profit sector, and by leading, volunteering and contributing, women have built portfolios that support the powerless and underprivileged in society. Their leadership roles in philanthropy have allowed them to push positive social policy changes and gain influence in public.

When women contribute or volunteer their time and expertise to a cause, they typically tend to do so from a solid foundation of principles such as values, responsibility and compassion. Around the world, women are involved in various types of philanthropic giving and fundraising that are helping to make the world a better place, not to mention developing and being role models for other female leaders to emulate.

One aspect that’s working to women’s advantage is that their personal wealth is increasing, enabling them to participate on boards and take charge of fundraising efforts. When they do decide to put their wealth to work, many women choose to do so for issues that improve issues that matter to the public. Joey Horn, a Managing Director based in Norway, is among many women leaders who support charities and regularly contributes to worthy causes.