Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Tyeshia Wilson, director of engagement for Philanthropy Together.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
Working in philanthropy is one of the most rewarding and self-fulfilling careers, ever. I’m altruistic, I’m a humanitarian, and I’m passionate about service. Looking back, I only wish I had been exposed to the idea of a career in philanthropy earlier. If I was aware of this alignment between my heart and the work of this field, I would have started in this profession much sooner and likely pursued philanthropic studies in school.
2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?
A huge piece of our work in philanthropy is restoration because we pour so much into our communities. As a working professional, mother of five and wife, as well as someone committed to self-care, my greatest professional challenge is finding the right balance. I am so passionate about my work and community that I often bring it home with me. As rewarding as this profession is, it’s a heavy lift and requires a healthy work/life balance to avoid burnout. You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? To ensure that I show up and pour into others everyday, I have to remember to fill my cup and always strive to strike a healthy balance.
3. What inspires you most about your work?
I am inspired by the people I get to work with to advance the giving circle movement and the power of human connection. My work at Philanthropy Together emphasizes the importance of connecting like-minded individuals to create a more just and equitable society, and I’m constantly inspired by the lives, personalities and stories of the communities we serve. I find so much joy being in community with people, loving and supporting mankind in spite of our differences. It truly is a treasure and pleasure to be part of a people-centric field.
4. How does your gender identity inform your work?
I am a woman first. My work is informed through this lens. Women are leading the giving circle movement and blazing the trail in this space and across the philanthropy sector at large. When I show up to work each day, I bring my perspective, experiences and thoughts as a woman, which is especially relevant in a women-led movement.
5. How can philanthropy support gender equity?
Philanthropy can support gender equity by investing in and supporting Black women in leadership. We must address the persistent gender inequities as well as the racial inequities in the charitable giving field. Black women are at the helm of running grassroots nonprofit organizations, yet research shows us that organizations supporting Black women and girls have been neglected. Less than one percent of philanthropic giving goes toward organizations that specifically target minority women and girls. Philanthropy can step up and not only support Black leadership, but also organizations specifically supporting Black women and girls. We need to get comfortable with calling it out to raise awareness and then do the work together to address and change the narrative and disparity.
6. In the next 10 years, where do you see gender equity movements taking us?
I see the gender equity movements flourishing and promoting a balance for better living, bridging wage disparity, offering paid maternity leave, promoting better policies and investing in young women and girls. As we march toward the next phase of gender equity, we must eliminate the barriers women face and rid ourselves of boxes that limit our potential. If we keep doing the work, 10 years from now, the next generation of young women working in everything from philanthropy to sports to policy, will be set up and paid equitably to do the necessary work in our country without jumping over hurdles.
More on Tyeshia Wilson:
Tyeshia “Ty” Wilson (she/her) is a spirited entrepreneur, philanthropist and social good advocate with more than 15 years of experience as a relationship manager. Wilson is passionate about people and service. She currently serves as Director of Engagement for Philanthropy Together, a global nonprofit democratizing and diversifying philanthropy by strengthening and scaling collective giving, and is a founding member of the HERitage Giving Fund, one of the first African-American giving circles in Texas that serves Black-led nonprofits serving Black women and girls. She holds a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington and a M.S. in Public Leadership with a concentration in Nonprofit and Community Leadership from the University of North Texas at Dallas.
In The News
Candid launches ‘U.S. social sector’ dashboard | Philanthropy news
Developed with funding from Amazon Web Services and Vanguard Charitable, the dashboard offers key data and insights about the makeup and impact of civil society, including previously unreleased statistics on the racial composition of leaders and funding flows to charities. According to the dashboard, the social sector, which employs 12.5 million people, comprises more than 1.81 million nonprofit organizations: 501(c)(3) charitable organizations (80 percent), which include public charities (73 percent) and private or community foundations (7 percent); 501(c)(4) advocacy and social welfare groups (4 percent); 501(c)(6) business associations (4 percent); 501(c)(7) social and recreation clubs (3 percent); labor unions and other 501(c)(5) groups (3 percent); and fraternal societies categorized as 501(c)(8) and 501(c)(10) organizations (2 percent).
According to the dashboard, religious organizations currently make up 18 percent of public charities, followed by those focused on human services (17 percent), community and economic development (15 percent), education (14 percent), sports and recreation (8 percent), arts and culture (7 percent), philanthropy and nonprofit management (7 percent), health (7 percent), and the environment and animal welfare (4 percent). In terms of funding flow, in 2018 public charities received $292 billion in contributions from individuals, $76 billion from foundations, $40 billion from bequests, and $20 billion from corporations; $174 billion in government support; and $1.6 trillion in earned income.
And among reporting nonprofits, 60 percent of CEOs identified as white, 10 percent as Black, 5 percent as Latinx, 3 percent as Asian/AAPI, 1 percent as Native American/Indigenous, 3 percent as multiracial/multiethnic, and 1 percent as additional ethnicities, while 17 percent did not disclose. Among board members, 66 percent were white, 15 percent Black, 7 percent Latinx, 5 percent Asian/AAPI, 1 percent Native American/Indigenous, 2 percent multiracial/multiethnic, and 0.4 percent additional ethnicities, while 4 percent did not disclose.
“Candid exists to get people the information they need about the social sector to do good. Many of our tools focus on one organization, one grant, or one issue at a time; that kind of focus can be critical for decision makers,” said Candid executive vice president Jacob Harold. “This new dashboard builds on that focus by offering a fuller picture of the social sector as a whole. We hope that this tool will help people build a better understanding of the nonprofit and philanthropic ecosystem and its central role in our society.”
(Photo credit: GettyImages/Prostock Studio)
UW–Madison receives $20 million for Letters & Science building | Philanthropy news
The University of Wisconsin–Madison has announced a $20 million lead gift from brothers and alumni Jeff Levy (’72) and Marv Levy (’68, JD ’71) in support of a new academic building in the College of Letters & Science.
Construction on Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall, named for the parents of Jeff and Marv, is expected to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2025. Once complete, the building will establish a unified home for the Department of History and nine other L&S academic departments, programs, and centers that currently are spread across eight facilities on campus. The five-story building will feature nineteen classrooms as well as a space where students can gather and interact informally with each other and their instructors to maximize collaboration.
The Levy brothers own and operate Phillips Distributing Corporation in Madison. Their commitment was contingent upon the Wisconsin state legislature and governor including the project in the 2021-23 state budget with $60 million in state support, which occurred earlier this year.
“We envision this vital new facility as a highly collaborative and state-of-the-art learning environment for all,” said College of Letters & Science dean Eric Wilcots. “We are immensely grateful to the Levy family for their support of this vision. Our students deserve classroom space that enhances interactive learning and engagement through cutting-edge technology. They also deserve a building that inspires, rather than intimidates. The Levy family’s gift will reverberate through future generations, touching many lives.”
“We are proud to help make this building a reality. We hope it will be a central educational location for the undergraduate experience at UW-Madison,” said Marv Levy. “Our hope is that by honoring our family legacy of charitable giving with this gift, we can offer to future generations some of the opportunity that the UW has provided us.”
U.S. nonprofit sector uneven in impact and recovery, report finds | Philanthropy news
While nonprofits have contributed significantly to U.S. society and economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health of the sector is uneven in both impact and recovery, a new report from Independent Sector finds.
Based on aggregated survey and research data from multiple sources in four categories — financial resources, human capital, governance and trust, and public policy and advocacy — the second edition of the Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector (43 pages, PDF) found that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic varied by subsector and organization size, with arts organizations and those that rely on fees for service hit especially hard. Yet, even as 40 percent of nonprofits saw declines in total revenue and all subsectors except social services saw drops in gross output, the sector contributed 5.9 percent of GDP in 2020 — up 0.4 percentage points from 2019. And while 57 percent of nonprofits cut overall expenses, 64 percent suspended services, 44 percent reduced the number of programs or services, and 47 percent reported serving fewer people in 2020, Independent Sector’s Trust in Civil Society survey found that, as of early 2021, 57 percent of surveyed Americans had received nonprofit services and 84 percent expressed confidence in the ability of nonprofits to strengthen American society, up 3 percentage points from 2020.
According to the report, the sector’s advocacy efforts in 2020 helped secure notable federal resources that served as financial lifelines to nonprofits, particularly through the Paycheck Protection Program, payroll tax credits, and temporary universal charitable deduction. In addition, a study by Nonprofit VOTE found that voter engagement efforts helped reach underrepresented communities and narrow participation gaps.
The report outlines recommendations in each category to strengthen the sector, including prioritizing flexible funding, developing a shared understanding of equitable financing, promoting evidence-based practices to close workforce diversity and equity gaps, building capacity of virtual volunteering, improving the quality and depth of metrics for equity and “healthy” governance, improving digital access and literacy, and establishing public policy advocacy as a core competency of nonprofit management and governance.
“We have much to do to build the nation we, as changemakers, dream of becoming,” wrote Independent Sector president and CEO Dan Cardinali in the report’s foreword. “What can galvanize us to greater positive action? It’s that the everlasting human qualities of resilience, kindness, and collaborating for collective progress do not fade easily. They are within our grasp every day, giving all of us hope and confidence. The health of our nation is the sum of the richness and diversity of our members and sectors working together, elevating dignity, honoring our differences, and building for the common good.”
(Photo credit: Los Angeles Regional Food Bank)
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