Andrea Pactor, interim director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), and Rafia Khader, program manager at Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, sat down recently to discuss their collaborative efforts for INspired to Give: Women, Faith, and Philanthropy, a special program in Indianapolis on Thursday, November 8.
What prompted the idea for this project?
RK: Research has shown that religion influences philanthropic behavior and gender influences philanthropic behavior as well, but there are few studies that look at the connection between faith and gender and giving. Furthermore, I have been interested in learning more about the ways in which faith is lived, especially in faith traditions that are perceived as patriarchal, and to explore how women navigate their faith traditions through philanthropy. Oh, and the chance to work with Andrea on a project, it just seemed like a natural collaboration!
AP: I am so excited to work with Rafia on this project. WPI has explored the intersection of women, faith, and philanthropy at its national symposia but never in our home community. When I learned that the 2018 Spirit & Place Festival theme is INTERSECTION, it seemed natural to develop a collaboration between Lake Institute and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute to explore this topic using personal stories to showcase the theme. Although Rafia and I come from different faith traditions and are from different generations, we share a love for our faiths and are committed to putting it into action.
How did Rafia’s Hajj experience (pilgrimage to Mecca) in August impact her thinking about this topic?
RK: I saw a lot of generosity during Hajj. One woman demonstrated her generosity by making sure everyone had access to the fans (it was 110 degrees in the desert at the time) and that everyone had food before she ate. While that generosity might not be recorded as “formal” philanthropy that can be measured, to me it was an expression of the philanthropic spirit. During this past week’s Symposium on Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society, I heard conversations about informal philanthropy and realized how much of it is done by women. For example, cooking for bake sales, organizing community events, visits to the sick, and hosting travelers. This only reinforced the importance of the project Andrea and I have been working on.
AP: The definition of philanthropy we often use at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is “voluntary action for the public good.” This is a broad definition – it includes time, talent, and treasure. We want to explore all of these at the event on November 8.
What will happen at the event?
RK: Attendees will hear from an amazing panel of women from diverse faith traditions and ethnic and racial backgrounds and they will have an opportunity to join in song and small group discussions. This special evening is particularly timely in light of today’s contentious environment. We recognize the importance of having interfaith conversations and we hope the event will help move people from talk to action.
AP: This is a unique opportunity to build bridges and to participate in thoughtful conversations about topics we so rarely discuss.
Why are you so excited about this panel?
RK: The panelists are an extraordinary group of women who work in different fields and who come from different faith traditions. They are all passionate about being women of faith who give back to their communities in various ways. Rabbi Sandy Sasso, the Center for Interfaith Cooperation’s 2018 Interfaith Ambassador, will moderate the panel. Panelists are:
- Kathy Cabello, Principal, Cabello Associates, Indianapolis, IN
- Hope Hampton, Founder, Indescribable Gift
- Dr. Anita Joshi, Pediatrician, Crawfordsville, IN
- Rima Shahid, Director, Women4Change Indiana
AP: We can’t wait to learn from these talented and thoughtful women leaders in our community.
What is your vision for the program’s outcome?
RK: I want people to be inspired to act philanthropically in their own faith communities and also seek collaboration with other faith communities. I want to be inspired by how other women are acting out their faith through philanthropy. There is a lot of good you can learn from other people and we are putting that into practice at this event.
In thinking about turning talk into action, one of the ideas Andrea and I had was the creation of an interfaith giving circle that would support local causes. We hope to explore this and other ways to encourage understanding and collaboration among women of various faith traditions as a result of the conversations at the event.
This event is free and open to the public.