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'The GreatWealth Transfer' and Women's Giving

Nearly 26 years ago, Anne Arundel County resident Carol Thompson gathered other community-minded residents and formed what we now call the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County (CFAAC). Thompson’s efforts embodied the giving spirit reflected in other women philanthropists throughout history.

From Madame C.J. Walker, a self-made African American millionaire who created employment and scholarship opportunities for women, to modern-day philanthropists like MacKenzie Scott, women have had a front seat in driving change for good through their actions or finances. March is Women’s History Month, so it’s fitting to explore women’s roles in philanthropy past, present and future.

In the early 1900s, Walker was recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in American history. But more importantly, she was a philanthropist in every sense of the word, advocating for African Americans and women, offering them career and educational opportunities. Upon her death, she bequeathed nearly $100,000 and two-thirds of her estate’s future net profits to charity.

In subsequent years, Eleanor Roosevelt became a beacon of philanthropy with her extraordinary work for social justice. And today, the names of Scott, Melinda Gates and Oprah Winfrey are synonymous with philanthropy. Over the years, these three women have donated a combined $57 billion to charities.

Women have always been highly engaged in many forms of giving back through volunteerism, financial contributions and socially responsible investing. According to a study from the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Women’s Philanthropy Institute, as women’s incomes rise, they tend to give to charity more and donate more than their male counterparts.

Women also tend to participate more in giving circles, a form of collective giving, such as Anne Arundel Women Giving Together. This giving circle, a component fund of CFAAC, distributed $164,305 in grants last year to local nonprofits.

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