Three Woman Philanthropists to Celebrate on International Women’s Day

March 8, 2018

Now more than ever, women are changing the game in philanthropy. Not only do women make up 43% of the nation’s top wealth holders, but their wealth is only expected to grow – and research shows that women may be more likely to give, and when they do, they give more.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th, here are three donors whose generosity and innovation highlight women’s significant contributions to philanthropy.

Beth Sawi

As the former Chief Administrative Officer of Charles Schwab, Beth Sawi approaches her philanthropic projects with an eye for financial strategy and a willingness to be hands-on in her work. In her position as a board member of the Alameda County Food Bank and the Ms. Foundation, she has been able to contribute volunteer time and raise significant funding towards the organizations’ missions. Although she’s devoted much of her time to philanthropy since retiring, she describes her giving as an ongoing learning experience. “This new phase was really dedicated to learning how to do it right and support the most capable nonprofit leaders.”

Oseola McCarty

Oseola McCarty’s remarkable story exemplifies the idea that anyone can be a philanthropist, regardless of their background. Born in rural Mississippi in 1908, Ms. McCarty quickly learned the importance of hard work and frugality. In sixth grade, she dropped out of school to take up work as a washer-woman and help support her family. Over the years, she saved almost all of her earnings, which accumulated to over $150,000. In 1995, she used her savings to establish a scholarship program at the University of Southern Mississippi, which to this day provides financial assistance to low-income students of color.

Laurie Tisch

Born into a well-established family of donors, Laurie Tisch was no stranger to philanthropy, having grown up watching her family fund projects including New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and the Tisch Children’s Zoo in Central Park. Inspired by her parents’ generosity, Ms. Tisch discovered her own passion for giving and launched the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund in 2007. The Fund takes a strategic approach to supporting projects in New York City spanning issues of education, arts, health, and public service. One of the Fund’s most well-known and transformative projects is the Green Carts, which sells fruit and vegetables to underserved communities in food deserts throughout the city.

To learn more about women’s contributions to philanthropy, read Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ Women and Giving guide from our Philanthropy Roadmap series.

Written by Melissa Blackerby of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Communications Team.