Power of the Purse

Sandra was inspired to assemble influential women to help those in parts of the world where raising healthy, educated girls can transform entire countries for the better. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution. And so was born The Power of the Purse.


In her capacity as The Bag Lady of Bay Street, and as part of her commitment to promote women’s financial empowerment, Sandra hosts – annually – a fabulous evening of fine food and wine that concludes with an unmatched silent auction. Sandra is in excellent company when she shares the growing recognition that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. Interest groups and individuals – from the World Bank and Prime Minister Harper, to aid organizations like CARE and Plan International – agree that the oppression of women worldwide is one of the human rights causes of all time.

Mastering the Optimism

Call Sandra an Impatient Optimist!

There are times when it’s harder to master the optimism and the impatience takes over. But instead of being frustrated by this, Sandra chose to bring together high-profile women in our community and ask them to help her in raising essential funds and awareness for projects that would make a real difference for those girls and their communities.

In general, Sandra finds that women give differently than men. Women are less likely to want our names on things and more likely to give as part of drives and smaller initiatives that include other women. And women tend to spotlight different causes (maternal health, micro-financing, education) and for different reasons.

A study of more than 10,000 large donors by the Centre on Philanthropy at Indiana University suggest that while men describe their giving as practical – filling in the gaps that government can’t or won’t – women describe theirs as emotional, an obligation to help those with less.

Our Evening Objective

The Power of the Purse is a unique, inspiring, exclusive evening whose objective is to raise funds in connection with Plan Canada’s Because I Am a Girl global initiative.

After elegant refreshments, dinner and keynote speakers comes the highlight of the night: a silent auction of high-end items. These items have included designer bags generously donated by Holt Renfrew, Marlowe and Betty Hemmings, supplemented by one-of-a-kind donated purses from the closets of such celebrities as Barbra Streisand, Margaret Atwood and Cindy Crawford.

The Results of Your Support

  1. The 2010 inaugural event at Holt Renfrew’s café on the mezzanine raised $58,000 to help build a girl’s residential school in Tanzania.

  2. The 2011 event, also at Holt Renfrew’s café on the mezzanine, raised $74,000 to help build a primary school and girls-only latrines in Ethiopia.

  3. The 2013 event, held at Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner Museum – and supported by a generous top-up program from the Canadian government – raised a staggering $528,000 to purchase an entire fleet of ambulances to assist women and newborns in Tanzania.

Since its inception, The Power of the Purse has raised over $630,000 for Plan Canada’s Because I Am a Girl global initiative.

Event Photos