By now we’ve all received the memo: conspicuous consumption and ostentatious gifting are no longer considered an essential part of a festive holiday season. Rather than spending time selecting gifts for friends and relatives whose preferences they can only guess at and who have no use for the things they buy them, many people are choosing to give thoughtful donations instead. 

For this special holiday edition, we have selected three initiatives worth supporting this year – instead of or in addition to regular gifts. Click here to read about Operation Night Watch, our choice for historic preservation project to support. Click here to read about Ocean Conservancy, our choice for community service organisation to support. And read on to find out more about the Leadership Framework for Affiliate Leaders by Girls Inc, a worthy leadership development initiative.

The future is female. Fight like a girl. Nevertheless, she persisted. We should all be feminists. The sloganisation of feminism has finally made the movement so broadly appealing that even younger, less political, previously disinterested people are getting on board with gender equality and female empowerment. Time to harness that energy and pour it into an organisation that actually implements programmes that benefit young women. Girls Inc. is a US-based non-profit “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.” It was founded as the Girls Club of America in 1864, originally only at the local level without an overarching national structure.

Why Support Girls Inc.’s Leadership Framework For Affiliate Leaders

Today, the organisation’s Leadership Framework for Affiliate Leaders defines best practices, policies and procedures, creating an unchanging set of core elements that provide the scaffolding for specific activities. Programmes range from scholarships and after-school mentoring to economic and media literacy courses. The agenda of each affiliate (ie. local group) is determined by local knowledge of a community’s needs and the interests of the girls that could potentially benefit. Girls Inc.’s Executive Vanguard Group of affiliate executives and board leaders establishes a Leadership Framework which articulates the knowledge, skills and attributes required to lead a successful affiliate. The framework provides a basis for the selection, training, and professional development of staff and board members – who then go on to carry the framework into programmes within affiliates.

Dr Stephanie J. Hull, President and CEO of Girls Inc., explains why the organisation’s work – especially the focus on girls and young women – is so important: “All over the world, girls today face unique obstacles to their health and well-being. Girls Inc. gives girls the tools and opportunities to make positive choices, succeed in school and become change agents in their communities. We also address the systemic barriers that hold girls back.”

She also argues convincingly for financial support of the work Girls Inc. does to achieve these goals: “When you support Girls Inc., you are changing a girl’s life – and unlocking her potential to lead change for future generations of girls. That is the power of our work. That is the power of your investment. Your support will ensure more girls have access to research-based, proven programming that sets girls up for lifelong success and helps them reach their fullest potential. Your support equips girls to grow up strong, smart and bold. Young people are increasingly becoming catalysts for change in society. They are passionate, engaged and already making their mark. To the extent that poverty, prejudice and inequity continue to hold girls back, we can and must invest in their promise. Girls are innately powerful. They change the world, and we need their leadership now more than ever.”

This inspiring video sums up the core challenges faced by the girls the organisation serves:

Turn A Donation Into A Holiday Gift

If you are looking for a special gift for a young girl – or a budding feminist of any gender – in your life, a donation to Girls Inc. will send them a clear message. The guiding principles and goals of the organisation apply to all females, and you want the recipient of the gift to be strong, smart and bold, too. As Hull puts it: “The giving season inspires us to help others, particularly those experiencing economic hardship. Giving support to non-profits like Girls Inc. provides valuable resources to help organisations meet their missions. Your support helps expand opportunities and possibilities for girls. Girls believe in themselves and envision a future brighter than they ever thought possible.”

Why not accompany your donation with a present that can go under the tree – like a feminist slogan t-shirt and a printed version of the Girls Inc. Girls’ Bill of Rights. It states that girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes, the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm, the right to take risks to strive freely and to take pride in success, the right to accept and appreciate their bodies, the right to have confidence in themselves and be safe in the world, and the right to prepare for interesting work and economic independence.

If you are looking for a more substantial gift idea for an adult, you can turn the traditional Christmas present of jewellery into a feminist statement with a diamond necklace by Hearts On Fire, designed in collaboration with four Girls Inc. students. Twisting spirals that radiate outward are meant to symbolise “what happens when girls are placed at the centre of their stories and empowered to dream, thrive and create.” A percentage of proceeds from the sale goes to Girls Inc.

How To Support The Initiative

You can donate to Girls Inc. from anywhere in the world. If you are living in the USA or Canada and want to support the organisation beyond a purely financial donation, you can also fundraise or advocate, for example by pushing for legislation that promotes gender equality or policies that support girls from low-income communities.

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