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. Women are also emerging as the top networkers and catalysts in modern philanthropy, bringing people together to mobilize huge resources for different causes.
Too often, though, the quiet power of women philanthropic leaders is overlooked. Again and again, famous rich men are afforded the lion's share of the credit for big gifts or initiatives actually masterminded by their wives or daughters. Meanwhile, some of the most influential networkers in philanthropy operate well outside the limelight.
That has to change—not just because it's unfair, but because to understand today's big philanthropy, you need to know the women who are so often behind the new mega giving. That's why we developed this list. Many of those on it aren't just the most powerful women in philanthropy. They are the most powerful people, period.