The Rise of Fe-lanthropy

Recently, frogloop posted a story about the rise of the she-conomy.  A story that should remind us that donors are not a monolithic category of people.  Homogeneous groups, based on important variables, as well as all individuals, approach philanthropy differently.  Our role as advancement leaders is to build the knowledge and capacity of our institutions to better serve all our donors.  This starts with better understanding.

According to research conducted by U.S. Department of Education and Virginia Tech, women now are the recipients of 60% of all earned Master’s degrees.  And currently, they control nearly 60% of the wealth in the U.S.   The number of wealthy women in the U.S. is growing at twice the rate of wealthy men.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University has published research suggesting that single women are twice as likely as single men to make a philanthropic gift.  Further, married men and married women are twice as likely than single men to make a gift, leading some to suggest that women’s philanthropic tendencies rub off on their husbands.

So, what does all this mean for you as you plan and implement advancement strategies?  From a strategic standpoint two ideas immediately come to mind.  First, if you read further into the research on women donors, as compared to men, women are less likely to respond positively to “challenge gift” scenarios. The research suggests women are encouraged to give more when there is a collaborative strategy in place.  Second, women respond positively to donor education initiatives, including estate planning seminars.  They have questions and they are willing to seek the answers.

Often during Prospect Management meetings, the strategies discussed for major donor prospects center on men.  In some instances, to the exclusion of the women in their lives.  The research on women in philanthropy – both their influence on men and how they respond to our strategies – strongly suggests such a male-dominated approach is a mistake.

The old saying of philanthropy is, “If you want money, ask for advice.”  Perhaps we should re-state and update this. . . “If you want money, ask for advice. . . from a woman.”


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