The Ms. Foundation: A Case Study in Feminist Fundraising

Center for the Study of Philanthropy (City University of New York)



Created in 1972, the Ms. Foundation was chartered as a public foundation three years later "to support the empowerment of women and girls in the United States." It was the first multi-issue national women's fund to concentrate on the full spectrum of women's concerns, from antipoverty initiatives to pro-choice campaigns. The Ms. Foundation also sought to combine grantmaking, political activism and technical education in new ways. The case study examines how a women's organization can move away from a reliance on shoestring budgets and self-sacrifice toward long-term sustainability and institutionalization. How can this be done in inclusive ways that bring traditionally neglected groups such as women of color and low-income women into decision-making processes alongside middle- and upper-class women in ways that sustain a sense of comfort and membership? The case examines how a foundation like Ms. can raise funds for feminist initiatives that may seem volatile to corporations and threatening or unimportant to legislators and foundations? Finally, how can it persuade even women donors to give gifts publicly rather than anonymously?



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