The Giving Gender Gap – Attracting and Keeping Women Donors

women and philantrophy

When it comes to making giving decisions, the topic of women in philanthropy is of particular interest to me.  Perhaps I am most interested in women in philanthropy because I graduated from a female-centered high school and all women’s college and am currently fundraising for an all-girls college preparatory high school.  The majority of individuals I solicit are women.

So I did a Google search on women in philanthropy and found many gender and philanthropy studies published in the last few years.  Studies reveal that women generally donate more (as a percentage to their salaries), are more actively involved in the given charities, demand more proof of effectiveness, and prefer somewhat different causes than men.

Women not only write larger checks but they also volunteer more in organizations.  Among more than 900 wealthy people surveyed by the Indiana Institute and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, 87 percent of the women, but 78 percent of the men, said they volunteered regularly.

According to The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, women live longer than men by an average of 5.2 years.  Therefore, women will end up in charge of much of the anticipated intergenerational transfer of wealth expected over the next fifty years.

So knowing that women are important to our charities; how do we attract and keep women donors?  Here a few ideas to incorporate into your giving programs:

  • First and foremost, use the woman’s name on the envelope or it will end up in the garbage.
  • Men like statistics.  Women like stories.  In your solicitation letters, tell personal interest stories — how lives have been touched.
  • Women want to set a good example for the next generation of donors.  Incorporate “Family Days” into your giving programs.  Women want to instill values in their children.  They want their children to “do the right thing.”
  • It is widely acknowledged that women need less public credit, like buildings named for them.  Instead of naming a building, show how their gift is making a difference.
  • Show evidence that the gifts made are going towards their intended purpose.  If they donated to a particular scholarship, send them information on the scholarship recipient and how grateful that student is to receive the scholarship.
  • In solicitations, use words like “transformational,” “passionate,” and “join me.”

I hope you are excited about involving women in the life of your organization.  They can make a difference in real and powerful ways.  Should the topic of Women and Philanthropy be of interest, you may want to consider reading, Women & Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World, by Martha Taylar, Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz. The preface of this book states, “Philanthropy has changed a great deal in the last two decades. Even a few years ago, scarcely anyone was talking about passion, values, vision, and responsibility. Now those terms and usage are commonplace. Now they mean women’s philanthropy. In effect, women’s philanthropy has led the way and “reinvented” fundraising.”

By Kristin Short, Senior Consultant, Laurus Strategies

Kristin has served the non-profit community for more than 16 years.  Kristin has held Director of Advancement, Major Gifts and Donor Relations positions at a number of schools including Dominican University, Chicago Kent College of Law and Saint Mary’s College.  Kristin’s professional skill, strategic vision, strong writing ability and positive outlook have led many academic institutions to achieve stronger results.

Headquartered in Chicago, Laurus Strategies has a passion for helping nonprofits advance their mission. Laurus Strategies’ Non Profit and Public Affairs Consulting Group provides a wide range of fundraising, strategic planning, training and leadership services with a proven track record of success. Together, the team has over 80 years of experience and has helped clients raise over $650,000,000.



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