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Exploring women’s philanthropy in the UK (Advert Ref: RDF18/SSL/DALY)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Daly
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

In recent years, the engagement of high-profile women in philanthropy, such as (the late) Anita Roddick, J.K. Rowling, Sigrid Rausing and Dame Stephanie Shirley has generated popular interest in philanthropic giving by women. High net worth female donors have set up foundations as vehicles for their giving, such as JK Rowling’s Volant Charitable Trust and the Sigrid Rausing Charitable Trust. There is also some evidence of women working innovatively and collaboratively to support charitable causes (many of which are focused on women and girls) through giving circles, corporate-based networks and social networks. The first UK-wide women’s fund, ROSA was established in 2008. This fund champions the need for more funding for women and girls. Other foundations have also adopted a gender lens in the conduct of their grantmaking. Women’s funds can be found in some community foundations, which serve particular areas of the United Kingdom.

Although there has been some exploration of the gender-giving dynamic in the wider literature on charitable giving, we lack a nuanced understanding of the motivations of high net worth female donors and the nature and scale of their activity. We also lack a full critical appreciation of the social and organisational contexts in which women choose to engage in philanthropy in conjunction with other women. This entails attention to the question about what motivates women to engage in philanthropy, but also why do they choose to give via different philanthropic vehicles? To what extent is there a ‘women’s funding movement’ in the UK, similar to other contexts such as the USA where women’s philanthropy is often principally about women using philanthropic activity to support women and girls? How do we situate women’s philanthropy in relation to the women’s movement? What does it mean to make grants via a gender lens? How does it affect the nature of what, and how funding reaches organisations working with and/or on behalf of women and girls?

Applications are invited for a research project, that will explore one or more of the different dimensions of women’s philanthropy in the UK. To this end, the project could focus on women’s leadership in philanthropy and in philanthropic foundations, for example, as a founding donor, chief executive or programme manager. It could also investigate women’s giving and fundraising as part of social and professional networks. The project could also have an important conceptual focus, taking into account the resonance of “women’s philanthropy” in the UK, perhaps incorporating the perspective of the women’s movement. Applications for research projects are not limited to these themes but the project must relate to the exploration of women’s engagement in philanthropy in the UK and propose a novel contribution that will advance the theoretical and empirical study of this area of philanthropy.

Eligibility and How to Apply

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF18/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 28 January 2018
Start Date: 1 October 2018

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers

Funding Notes

The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2017/18, this is £14,553 pa) and fees


Recent publications and current/planned bidding by supervisors relevant to this project:

Daly, S. (2017) Feminist Philanthropy: a new era for the philanthropy field? Paper presented at the European Research Network on Philanthropy, Copenhagen (with Lucia Carrasco Scherer)
Daly, S. (2016) Engendering Philanthropy: towards a new theory and practice? Paper presented at the International Society for Third Sector Research Conference, Stockholm.
Leverhulme Trust, Artist in Residence Scheme, 2017.
Daly, S. (2014) Making grants but to serve what purpose? An Analysis of Trust and Foundation Support for Women in the UK. Milan: CRC - Centro Richerche Sulla Cooperazione E Sul Nonprofit, Working Paper No. 14. (Output of the Italian Research Award in Philanthropy)
Daly, S. (2012) 'Philanthropy as an essentially contested concept', Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 23 (3), pp. 535-557.

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