Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Four Myths on Women’s Philanthropy: Busted!

Women are contributing to nonprofits in record numbers, yet organizations consistently look to male donors when faced with campaign planning or prospecting for the next “million-dollar” donor.  New research “busts” old myths about women’s philanthropy and encourages nonprofits to seek transformational gifts in new places:  their female donors.

Myth #1:  Women give less than men.
According to a recent study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, women are as much as 40% more likely to give then men.  They also tend to give with greater frequency and a larger average gift amount.  The study, entitled “Women Give 2010” is the first to look at philanthropy by gender.  A follow-up report, “Causes Women Support,” which examines the differences in giving preference by charitable sector, was released in February 2011.  Both are available through the Institute’s homepage.   

Myth #2:  Women give smaller gifts from their disposable income.
Fundraisers who take time to educate women on the significance of a major gift have been very successful in convincing them to take a risk and give of their assets.  Many planned giving vehicles now allow women to include donations as a part of their financial planning (think charitable trusts and the like).  In the recently released Women, Wealth & Giving:  The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation, authors Margaret M. Damen and Niki N. McCuistion offer an excellent perspective on how women think, feel, and give, and what’s more, how they can and are capitalizing their assets for society’s sake.   It’s the best of both worlds:  altruism with a plan! 

Myth #3:  Women volunteer their time but not their money.
While some women believe that volunteering with an organization excuses them from contributing financially, that philosophy is widely changing.  Historically, women have given of their time because that was what they had to give.  However, women now make up the majority of the workforce and are more economically advanced than ever before.  Fundraisers who take time to educate women about an organization’s needs can allow women to see the “bigger picture” and create some of the organization’s most committed donors.      

Myth #4:  Women’s philanthropy is a new occurrence.
Although fundraisers have recently identified women’s philanthropy as an area of growth, women have long been leaders in charitable contributions and work.  Particularly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many women used their wealth to improve conditions for the poor, found schools and educational opportunities, and establish many of the cultural institutions we still visit today.  In Reinventing Fundraising: Realizing the Potential of Women’s Philanthropy, authors Sondra C. Shaw and Martha A. Taylor give a brilliant look into transformational giving of the past by charitable sector and offer brief profiles of the women who helped shape the future.
NOTE:  A majority of content for this blog post comes from Reinventing Fundraising.  The book’s authors,  Sondra C. Shaw and Martha A. Taylor, have recently released a new book on the topic entitled Women & Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World. 

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