Profiles Resources

Philanthropy’s Most Formidable Females

Melinda Gates
Melinda Gates IMG: JStone /

Inside Philanthropy recently released its list of the 15 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy, a roster of some of the most formidable female leaders in America. You already know that women are just as innovative and influential in the realm of philanthropy as their male counterparts, right? Even still, it’s always great to be reminded that just because they’re not necessarily making headlines as often, the following women are changing our world for the better.

The list of the 15 most powerful women in U.S. philanthropy is as follows:

  1. Melinda Gates
  2. Susan Buffett
  3. Patricia Harris
  4. Marilyn Simons
  5. Susan Dell
  6. Pam Omidyar
  7. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey
  8. Jennifer Buffett
  9. Carol Larsen
  10. Laurene Powell Jobs
  11. Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen
  12. Laura Arnold
  13. Priscilla Chan
  14. Margaret Cargill
  15. Cathy Catalyst

According to David Callahan, who spearheaded the formation of this list, “Women are a fast-rising force in philanthropy. More women are making their own fortunes than ever before and women are also exercising growing leadership in family philanthropy, shaping how wealth made by spouses or earlier generations is given away,” he says. Additionally, women are often top networkers and innovators of modern philanthropy.

Women who made this list of powerful female philanthropists had to meet the following criteria: “(A) She directly, or jointly, controls a boatload of money, or strongly influence how a huge fortune is used; (B) She’s actively deploying that money for philanthropic ends in a hands-on way; and (C) She’s having an impact with her philanthropy, either directly or through her ideas and the example she sets, or both.” Given such a strong list of inspiring women, I think it’s safe to say that many of them possess all three of these categories, and are not only making the world a better place because of their fiscal generosity, but because of how they inspire others to follow suit.

Learn more about these women and what it means to be a “powerful philanthropist” by visiting

Organizations Profiles

Laura and John Arnold Foundation Opens Up on Metrics

John and Laura Arnold
IMG: via Arnold Foundation

Known for shaking up the approach to philanthropy, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation continues to stress the importance of evaluating metrics when making a charitable contribution.  The foundation wants to answer questions about what sort of impact will be made and whether the money given will do the most possible good.  As part of the innovative process, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation created The Reporting Commitment.  Sixteen other organizations have signed up for the commitment, which promises to provide maximum transparency for each grant given through each respective foundation.

The Arnolds and the VNA Foundation, which is organized by Visiting Nurses, launched the initiative last October.  The Reporting Commitment holds nonprofits of any size more accountable and encourages collaboration and cooperation by making all grant information publicly available on a quarterly basis.  Another part of the initiative is to collect data and make nonprofits more efficient and smarter about decisions overtime.  All data for the initiative is licensed under Creative Commons.

Other organizations that have joined the Reporting Commitment are the W.K. Kellog, Bill and Melinda Gates, The William and Flora Hewlett, MacArthur and The Rockefeller Foundations.  Currently foundations are missing central data bases that can assist them in metrics, evaluation and processes.  So far, the commitment has also created more camaraderie among the foundations, which combined manage billions of dollars in assets.

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has three main teams.  The criminal justice team is currently developing tools that assess the likelihood of repeat offenses or make court dates.  The research integrity initiative staff is funding scientific research, including a massive study on obesity and nutrition.  The third arm is for public accountability, which is working on evaluating social programs for efficiency and effectiveness.

To read more about Laura and John Arnold, read our profile.

Organizations Profiles

Former Enron Gas Trader Moves to Make the World Better

IMG: via http

At forty years old, John Arnold is one of the highest profiting hedgefund managers of all time.  John and Laura Arnold are worth an estimated $4 billion dollars and plan on giving all of their wealth away to charity.  After managing his fund out of Houston for several years before closing in 2012, one could look at his story and wonder if it was all some sort of diabolically genius plan to take from the rich and give to the poor.

John Arnold’s approach to philanthropy is different than many charitable billionaires.  A month ago, he agreed to fund a $26 million study on obesity, after speaking with dozens of top experts to identify exactly what kind of study would provide specific, quantifiable results.  He believes the right way to make major changes is through funding the best possible science and data projects, then shifting to putting pressure on policy makers to use the science to implement positive social change.  In a world that is shifting to specific details in marketing and nonprofit interaction, The Laura and John Arnold Foundation chooses to focus on the big picture: research on criminal justice, education, and nutrition.

For John Arnold’s entire profile, click here.