I think our greatest success is when the people that we brought to speak then go off and work together, and that is happening constantly
This profile is a part of our “Philanthropists in Action” case study series, which looks at emerging trends in the philanthropy landscape, as the ESG agenda and creating social impact climb the priority list of Family Offices and ultra-high net worth individuals around the world.
Philanthropy takes many different forms. Some individuals will simply want to provide the funds that are so often needed; others give of their expertise and time to offer value. And then, there are those individuals that give both, building and making connections across continents, between philanthropists, businesses, NGOs, and grassroots campaigners to make a difference.
Atalanti Moquette, philanthropist and founder of Giving Women is one such individual.
Image: Atalanti Moquette in conversation at Giving Women event
Philanthropy has been at the heart of Atalanti’s family for generations. Her grandfather having created a successful shipping business in Greece instilled a legacy that with wealth comes a responsibility to support those less fortunate. It was an ethos carried forward by her own parents and one that she is passing on to her children, too.
“Giving was natural,” explains Atalanti. “It was something we didn’t think about, we just did it. We grew up with this enormous respect for all people. My father would say that one day we could have dinner with a king and the next an electrician – there was an inclusivity, a set of values that have been passed on.”
This has stayed with Atalanti throughout her working life, working both in an art gallery and a refuge for abused women where she passed on life skills.
What has grown, however, is Atalanti’s commitment to making a difference in progressively bigger ways; she has worked to continually strengthen the professionalism with which she approaches philanthropic activities in order to deepen the impact that she has, and widen the opportunity for others to make an impact too. This is at the heart of what Atalanti does at Giving Women.
Giving Women is not a grant-making foundation. Rather, it is a membership association that seeks to build a community of informed women philanthropists who, like Atalanti, are seeking to make a meaningful difference in the lives of woman and girls in need.
It is a capacity-building organization that is seeking to democratize philanthropy, mobilizing social capital, connecting philanthropists with projects sharing expertise and learning, mentoring, and community building by making connections that enable not-for-profit organizations to deliver better on-the-ground support.
“Projects that approach us say that first and foremost they need money,” says Atalanti. “But when we dig deeper, we often realize the considerable amount of work needed before they can actually reach out for the big grant or approach donor foundations and their rigorous due diligence processes.
“That is where we can help.”
Giving Women helps projects by analyzing where their needs are and helping them to professionalize by looking at things like their organizational structures, governance, communication strategies and more. Following this, the organization can help make the connections to potential funding and the best partners for the organization.
For some, that may lead to mentoring, capacity building by Atalanti and the Giving Women team, and subsequently connecting them to private and institutional donors. Education too plays an important role, with the Giving Woman annual conference drawing some of the biggest names in industry and NGOs from across the world to speak alongside individual project leaders ― always delivering a strong call to action.
“It is the accessibility, the inclusive human-approach to the work of Giving Women that sets it apart,” says Atalanti, “It’s in the DNA of who we are.”
The challenge of measuring impact
Because Giving Women is not directly involved in on-the-ground projects, measuring impact can be a challenge. This calls for open and honest conversations, explains Atalanti.
“We feel strongly that we should not overstate impact,” explains Atalanti. “When I see people writing that ‘they have touched 10 million people,’ I ask what does that mean? Numbers can be deceptive.
We have to look deep down and ask, what are we actually doing and who are we impacting?”
Atalanti shares the following example where she mentored an inspirational organization in Northern Nigeria, helping young women through secondary education under constant threat from external pressures.
The organization helps women by providing education into leadership roles, finding jobs and training. They approached Giving Women as they
The philanthropic landscape has changed tremendously in the last few years, and that is happening more and more. But we need education… I can't underplay the importance of educating philanthropists.
were at a transformation stage wanting greater independence from their United States university sponsor.
“Giving Women provided the mentoring and the support needed to drive forward that change agenda,” explains Atalanti, “and then we stepped down.”
On revisiting the project one year later when preparing an impact report, the project leader was able to report that all Giving Women suggestions had been adopted, her advisory board changed, and she had scaled up support to extend across five Nigerian states and three ground partners.
Image: Giving Women
We can’t claim impact in terms of beneficiaries, of the many thousands of women the organization has helped – it’s their success. But we made a big difference.
You really do need to be open and honest about measuring impact and understand deeply the affect you are having.”
The importance of family
Atalanti has a great enthusiasm for perpetuating philanthropy, and she takes pleasure in seeing the next generation of philanthropists emerge.
“They are really professionalizing the philanthropic landscape,” she says.
A mother to three children, Atalanti’s two daughters are likewise deeply involved with philanthropy, one with her own philanthropic organization and, the other, working for a grant giving foundation as well as a director of Giving Women. Her son, a serial entrepreneur, has signed a Giving Pledge; a commitment to dedicating a part of his wealth to giving back.
“Philanthropy brings our family closer together, we are a super-connected family,” says Atalanti. And that passion for giving is carrying on down to the next generation – her grandchildren.
“We have started to think about it now as a family and how we go forward with this. We are aligned on where we want to give and so we’re creating something a little more formalized to carry our vision forward.”
About Giving Women
Giving Women is a membership association which seeks to build a community of informed women philanthropists and to make a meaningful difference in the lives of women and girls in need. It pools together time, knowledge, professional experience, financial means and ideas in order to be more informed and effective givers. Giving Women forms a bridge between women in need of support and women in a position to support them.