PLATINUM2023

WomenStrong International

WomenStrong International funds, strengthens, connects, and shares local women-led organizations’ solutions that help advance gender equity globally by promoting women’s and girls’ health, safety, education, and economic security.

aka WomenStrong   |   New York, NY   |  www.womenstrong.org

Mission

WomenStrong International advances progress toward gender equity by partnering with grassroots women-led organizations in urban and peri-urban areas who are dedicated to improving the lives of the girls and women they serve. Through trust-based funding, capacity strengthening, and working together in our Learning Lab, we move power and money into the hands of local women-led organizations that know best what their communities need.

Ruling year info

2015

Principal Officer

Dr Susan Blaustein

Main address

PO Box 4668 #26644

New York, NY 10163 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-1707504

NTEE code info

International Relief (Q33)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-PF.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Around the world, interconnected inequities in health, education, economic empowerment, safety, and climate justice pose fundamental threats to the wellbeing of women and girls and the economic development, peace, and prosperity of entire communities and nations. Organizations working on the frontlines to serve the world’s most vulnerable populations are constantly threatened by various crises, which affect women and girls disproportionately. Local women-led organizations are experts in what is needed for women and girls to thrive in their communities, and it is estimated that investments in advancing gender equality have the capacity to add up to $12 trillion. Yet, of the mere 1.6% of US giving to initiatives focused on women and girls, only a small share of it reaches local women-led organizations. These initiatives are too often compelled to operate without the financial and technical resources, networks, and visibility needed to put their innovative solutions into practice.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Trust-Based Funding

By providing unrestricted, trust-based grants, our partners can address the evolving needs of the women and girls in their communities with speed, flexibility, and greater effectiveness.

We find our partners through an open invitation process. We hold exploratory conversations with those organizations that meet our criteria, finding out as we do whether the organization would have an interest in participating in our Learning Lab. We do not require proposals but discover through dialogue whether prospective partners are a good fit for our support.

Our grants are unrestricted, and we have no geographic limitations. We do not require our partners to submit extensive reports. Our aim is to minimize our partners’ administrative burdens, enabling them to focus on their missions. Our trust-based grantmaking offers greater equity in our partnerships and ensures that our partners feel able to take strategic risks.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

WomenStrong partners have their own capacity and organizational strengthening goals, but many of them lack the resources to pursue them.

We explore the organizational strengthening needs of each partner, and then we co-create a plan for addressing those needs. We talk with each partner, listening as they identify what they would like to achieve, improve, and strengthen in their organizations. After these first conversations, we co-create individual capacity strengthening action plans with each partner. Along the way, we value different ways of knowing, different forms of knowledge, and varied interpretations of success.

We work with partners to find resources, materials, or other support that they can use to meet their needs. Many of our partners also share similar organizational strengthening priorities that can be addressed collaboratively through our Learning Lab. Many of our partners are keen to learn from the experiences and expertise of other WomenStrong partners.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

Through our Learning Lab – held in virtual space or, when possible, in person – we create opportunities for our partners to strengthen their capacity, exchange information, gain insights from each other, and share knowledge on gender-sensitive and -transformative programming.

In the Lab, partners have opportunities to explore collaborative learning and collaborate cross-regionally on events, products, reports, podcasts, and joint advocacy efforts. These activities nurture connections and community, provide knowledge and tools, and encourage peer-to-peer exchange toward strengthening partners’ capacities and developing a collective agenda. In these ways, our partners contribute to global efforts to achieve equity for women and girls worldwide.

The Lab's goals encompass four key pillars: peer learning and collaboration, community capacity strengthening, collective power, and voice and visibility.

Our unique approach is partner-led and partner-driven and centered in equity.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of grassroots organizations supported

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Women and girls

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

WomenStrong’s goal is for our partners to be better equipped to meet the needs of women and girls in their communities. To reach that goal, we believe that a multilayered approach is essential. We base our approach on three foundational pillars:

1. Trust-based funding: By providing unrestricted, trust-based grants, our partners can address the evolving needs of the women and girls in their communities with speed, flexibility, and greater effectiveness. Partners found this type of funding particularly helpful during the COVID pandemic, when, given their intimate knowledge of their communities’ needs, they became first responders in their communities.

2. Capacity strengthening: By calling on our staff’s expertise or that of others, WomenStrong supplies training, resources, and support to help strengthen partners’ capacity, programs, systems, and structures.

3. Learning Lab participation: Our partners join the Lab, where they can work and share knowledge and expertise with partners in their regions and with those working across the globe on girls’ and women’s health, education, economic security, and preventing violence against women and girls.

WomenStrong’s partners receive unrestricted financial support; capacity strengthening as requested, to help them become more effective and resilient; and the opportunity to participate in a Learning Lab, where they can build a community, share their experiences with their peers, and showcase their solutions on a global stage.

In combination, our Capacity Strengthening Program and Learning Lab provide partners with knowledge and tools, strengthen their technical and organizational capacity, encourage peer-to-peer exchange, and promote a collective agenda that is building a community of practice spanning the globe. We do all of this while respecting the diversity of our partners’ backgrounds and perspectives and ensuring that our work is inclusive and promotes equity among partners. Out of this community, WomenStrong seeks to raise our partners’ visibility, so that their learnings can be
heard by peer non-profits, international non-governmental organizations, and bi- and multilateral agencies, and so their solutions can be implemented wherever they might improve the lives of women and girls.

WomenStrong today is a learning organization. We help our partners measure and evaluate their progress in strengthening their capacity, so that they can continue to learn and grow to better serve their communities. At the same time, we measure WomenStrong’s own effectiveness, to understand how we can most efficiently and sustainably help local women-led organizations grow stronger.

With learning at our core, and with our single-minded focus on strengthening women-led organizations worldwide, WomenStrong positions itself within the women’s rights landscape and the wider philanthropic community as a replicable model for gender-transformative development that merits sustained investment.

WomenStrong's Founder spent more than a decade leading Columbia University’s Millennium Cities Initiative, an eight-country effort to help sub-Saharan cities chart their own path out of extreme urban poverty. There, she saw very clearly that the best ideas were those developed by women and girls.

WomenStrong is passionate about investing in organizations with an entrepreneurial spirit that need support to validate or advance their early-stage, non-traditional ideas for tackling the greatest challenges facing women and girls. We want to fund organizations where a small investment will have a large impact.

We find our partners through an open invitation process. We hold exploratory conversations with those organizations that meet our criteria, finding out as we do whether the organization would have an interest in participating in our Learning Lab. We do not require proposals but discover through dialogue whether prospective partners are a good fit for our support. Our grants are unrestricted, and we have no geographic limitations.

We ask that our grantee partners join the WomenStrong Learning Lab. The Learning Lab is a (mostly) virtual community that brings our partners together to share, learn, and disseminate findings that can advance the evidence base for what works, to improve the lives of women and girls.

Our Learning Lab is a platform where women’s organizations can learn together, share what’s working, and improve their own effectiveness in serving the girls and women in their communities. By sharing proven resources, and through a combination of peer-, staff-, and consultant- led conversations, WomenStrong is able to offer tailored technical assistance and strengthen organizational effectiveness in such areas as monitoring and evaluation, fundraising, communications, leadership training, and self-care.

WomenStrong provides additional resources and opportunities specifically focused on capacity strengthening for our grantee partners. Some partners have highly specific capacity and organizational strengthening needs. In these cases, we work with those partners to find resources, materials, or other support that they can use to meet their needs. For example, some partners request assistance from short-term consultants familiar with their local context or program participants. To respond to these requests, we have put together a database of vetted consultants with experience working in the partners’ countries, languages, and/or with specific populations.

WomenStrong is currently employs 11 fulltime staff who work individually and collectively to support our grantee partners. We also contract with several subject-matter experts based in Lower and Middle Income Counties with experience implementing international development projects to provide technical assistance and guidance to our partner organizations.

WomenStrong International is dedicated to the belief that local, women-led organizations are experts in what is needed for women and girls to thrive in their communities. Our founder came to this deep understanding after more than a decade working in 11 sub-Saharan cities in eight countries, where she witnessed the rich world fail to deliver on its promise to help eradicate extreme poverty. Yet, local women leaders always knew what their communities needed in order to thrive – they simply lacked the technical and financial resources to put their solutions into practice. WomenStrong launched in 2014 to leverage those resources for dynamic, women-led organizations in cities across the globe.

As WomenStrong has grown, we’ve seen continuously how much our partners have in common and how eager they are to learn from each other. WomenStrong is unusual in prioritizing the widespread sharing of partners’ solutions, knowledge, and experience well beyond each partner’s local settings. We do so across geographies, so that our partners’ most effective strategies can be adapted and implemented in other communities across the globe.

WomenStrong currently supports 19 women-led partner organizations in the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia that address the most critical needs of women and girls: keeping girls in school, accessing lifesaving reproductive healthcare, preventing gender-based violence, and creating pathways to economic security.

Since our founding in 2014, WomenStrong has partnered with 27 local women-led organizations in 23 countries, through an initial seed investment of more than $25 million, with more than $17.4 million going toward grants and programming. Each year, our partnerships connect us to more than 300,000 individuals.

We trust our partners to identify and use their own definitions of success, and their own desired outcomes, for their programming. To ensure that our approaches are aligned with our partners’ needs and interests, we encourage them to provide feedback to us regularly. WomenStrong measures our success by the value we bring to our partners, including whether and how we have strengthened their work to help women and girls thrive.

We also seek to build a community of collaborative learners and to amplify their solutions more broadly, deepening the field’s understanding of how best to address gender inequality, further social progress, and contribute to equitable, sustainable human development.

In an external evaluation conducted in 2020, our partners told interviewers that the flexible funding, tailored technical assistance, and capacity-strengthening we have provided have helped meet their organizational needs, generated trust and risk-taking, and engendered a shared interest in peer learning across our Learning Lab. To-date, they have also shared their solutions beyond their Lab partners, with thousands of other women’s organizations and development practitioners, through events, publications, and the media.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection

Financials

WomenStrong International
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

WomenStrong International

Board of directors
as of 11/30/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Susan Blaustein

Catherine Lee

Geeta Mehta

Peggy Shepard

Stephen Kass

Pamela Schutz

Howard Mandel

Heather Mendelow

Robin Smalley

Joyce Malombe

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/17/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/17/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.