In 1972, Gloria Steinem and her co-editors at Ms. Magazine started the Ms. Foundation for Women. It was the first and largest national women's fund. Their aim was to redistribute profits from Ms. Magazine to the grassroots women’s movement.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, following the creation of the Ms. Foundation, the idea of "women’s funds" – organizations focused on granting money to women and girls – gained momentum. New funds were created – from regional funds like the New York Women’s Foundation to family foundations such as the Sister Fund and the Daphne Foundation. In the US, this work was spurred by women including Helen LaKelly Hunt, Abigail Disney, and Tracy Gary.
In 1985, Women's Funding Network was formed to capitalize on a huge growth spurt among women’s funds. At this time, there were more than 60 women’s funds spread across the US. Today, more than 160 members of Women's Funding Network make grants of over $65 million per year and have collective working assets of $535 million.