The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

Click on the location markers below to read posts from women's funds around the world.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Woman Leader Under the Gun

Taking a break from sessions at the Women's Funding Network conference to post something that brings me down to earth with the realities women are facing in the world, but also inspires me to continue fighting for women's equality and for human rights.

Women are taking the lead in pushing for human rights all over the world and some of them are risking their lives to do it.

Mu Sochua, a parliamentarian and human rights activist in Cambodia who is also a Board member at Global Fund for Women, posted a letter on the GFW blog and Vital Voices that details the danger she is facing for voicing opposition to the Cambodian government.

Because she has urged for change and accountability and because she has called the government out for corruption, she is being threatened with an indefinite stay in an infamous prison.

Check out this profile of Mu Sochua at Independent Media Center, then read Mu Sochua's letter.

Mu Sochua is a role model for how women's leadership is bringing change. Please comment if you have any ideas for how we can urge fair treatment for her.

Live Blogging: Case Study in Fund Blogging with Lisa Kays of the Washington Area Women's Foundation

We're here at the Women's Funding Network annual conference in Atlanta in a workshop on how funds and foundations can start their own blogs, or participate here at The She Change. Deborah Siegel, of Girl with Pen, and Courtney E. Martin, of feministing, just outlined why blogging is a great opportunity for the women's funding movement, offering a bit about the nuts and bolts of starting one on, and are now welcoming Lisa Kays, who will be talking about her experience of blogging at the Washington Area Women's Foundation.

Lisa: When I came to the foundation, I had no experience as an organizational blogger. I had a personal blog, so I knew about the mechanics, but I had no idea how to start or build an organizational blog.

Starting tools:
probono webshop set up a blog
one enthusiastic staff person (intern or volunteer is great too!)
board buy in (sort of) [room laughs]
two board champions
an experimental open spirit (she was new, which was a blessing in some ways)
Lisa sees blogging as interesting, competitive, fun.

She started out writing very researched posts, light on opinion. Very straightforward. A board member said, "Could you please take this a little less seriously?" FREEDOM! And off she went.

Lisa now writes posts on economic security, but she also posts on Grey's Anatomy and Avenue Q. "Intersplice the personal. A blog is something you can play with," she says.

Question from the audience: have donors or board members emailed with concerns?

Lisa: Not once. If I have a tickle, I run it by somebody. You can be engaging and personal and interesting, without offending. It is a challenge.

Lisa points to the Blogging Guidelines that she wrote for the Washington Area Foundation. These became the "frame of her blog." This frame now guides readers, staff, and everyone else involved.

Question from the audience: How does an organizational blog develop?
Phase One:
Give thought to who you want to be; what do you want your content to look like?

Phase Two:
Reach out. Send personal emails to folks with blogs, invite people to guest blog, ask to be linked to or placed on the blog roll (for terminology, check here).
Lisa thinks of herself as the "branding czar." (She tried to get it on her card, but no luck.)

Question from the audience: When you have another voice posting on your blog, do you label it as such?

Lisa: YES, absolutely. Name on the post and a bio post. No anonymous posts.

Question from the audience: How many hours a week are you spending on your blog?

Lisa: It's gotten to be less and less. I think blogs actually save time. It's like a start up business. Now, I would say that I spend anywhere from half an hour to two hours a week. In the beginning it was an hour a day. If staff say something even remotely interesting, I would say, "That would make a great blog post!" Sometimes I ghost writes them, but a lot of times they blog themselves. Blogging is also a great way to reach out to donors and not ask them for money. After two and half years, I'm barely writing twice a month. Now I get emails requesting to blog. If you invest in being an evangelist for the blog early on, over time you're just setting up posts. Blog at least three times a week to keep it dynamic. After two and half years, we now get picked up by other bloggers without me soliciting them. We have a lot more guest bloggers. Readership is going up. It's been a great way to build relationships with our donors beyond asking them to write a check. Finally, I've also had success with grantee partners who want to blog.

Posted by Courtney Martin

Sunday, April 26, 2009

News Round Up: Women and Poverty (week ending April 24, 2009)

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a national foundation-led initiative, is excited to collaborate with The Washington Area Women’s Foundation to bring you the latest news and analysis on women and poverty.

Here’s this week’s news:

• The Chicago Sun Times reports on a charity that provides gowns to help low-income girls attend prom.

• A Miami Herald story on local African-American leaders highlights a minister who, herself having once been a homeless mother, has started an organization helping struggling women.

• The Boston Globe tells the story of a breast cancer survivor who received early detection because of a state insurance program for the poor.

• In a story on the troubled lives of Hispanic teenagers in a low-income suburb, the New York Times focuses on a young woman who has tried to reform herself after being a member of a local gang.

• The Pittsburgh Post Gazette profiles a young woman with an Ivy League education who will devote her first year out of college to serving the poor with AmeriCorps.

• Among the questions surrounding a law that could limit health care for illegal immigrants are its effects on screenings for breast and cervical cancer for low-income women, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

• The St. Petersburg Times runs a story on a clinic that has provided free cancer screening for hundreds of low-income women.

• The Associated Press reports that federal stimulus funds will allow New Mexico’s Women, Infants, and Children supplemental food program to serve 1,600 additional low-income women and their children.

To learn more about Spotlight, visit To sign up for our weekly updates with the latest news, opinion and research from around the country, click here.

Posted by Lisa Kays, Washington Area Women's Foundation; crossposted at Ask Us How: The Washington Area Women's Foundation

Sunday, April 12, 2009

News Round-Up: Women and Poverty (week ending April 10, 2009)

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, a national foundation-led initiative, is excited to collaborate with The Washington Area Women’s Foundation to bring you the latest news and analysis on women and poverty.

Here’s this week’s news:

• In an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution arguing against new, harsher penalties for speeders, the author cites the example of a single mother losing her license after getting pulled over on the way to work and to drop her kids off at day care.

• As noted in a McClatchy report carried in the Miami Herald, 50 advocacy organizations have come together to ask President Obama to support the hiring and training of women, minorities, and the poor to work on new federal construction projects.

• The Arizona Republic reports that a college scholarship fund for single moms has seen its applications jump from 40 to almost 300 within the past year.

• A South Florida Sun Sentinel article on a new program helping low- and moderate-income residents move into foreclosed housing focuses on a single mother excited to own her first home.

Posted by Lisa Kays, Washington Area Women's Foundation; crossposted at Ask Us How: The Washington Area Women's Foundation

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is a foundation-led, non-partisan initiative aimed at ensuring that our political leaders take significant actions to reduce poverty and increase opportunity in the United States. We bring together diverse perspectives from the political, policy, advocacy and foundation communities to engage in an ongoing dialogue focused on finding genuine solutions to the economic hardship confronting millions of Americans.