Giving Like a Girl

Member Blog

Sharing a blog from Bright Funds, which speaks to presence and force of women in philanthropy.

Women are the conduits through which change is made.
Women are progressively becoming a visible force on the philanthropic landscape as they challenge both the way we view giving and the notion of how much is appropriate to give. A 20ll study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the University of Indiana suggests that women are 40 percent more likely to give to charities than their male counterparts. These gender studies in philanthropic giving indicate that Baby Boomers and older women give 156 percent more to charity than men.

In 2009, the Red Cross canvassed funding for its women’s program, the Tiffany Circle. The first night of the campaign attracted 61 new members and raised a staggering $6 million in 30 seconds. Melanie Sabelhaus, a former administrator at the Small Business Administration who heads the Tiffany Circle, said “[N]ot one of the women picked up the phone and asked her husband.”

This growing autonomy among women presents a dynamic force within the economy. At the Women’s Philanthropy Institute Symposium in May 2009, Lisa Witter, the COO of Fenton Communications remarked, “When it comes to winning support or raising money for your cause, women are not a niche audience. They are the audience, because they vote, volunteer, and give to more organizations than men do.”
Witter indicated that savvy corporations, recognizing that women make 83 percent of all purchasing decisions, have begun to market directly to women. This deepening engagement with donation based works is changing the way nonprofits market to their potential donors. “Non-profits can learn to do the same,” she said, “if marketers and nonprofits successfully reach women, they would get men on their side, too.”
In their book, Reinventing Fundraising: Realizing the Potential of Women’s Philanthropy, Shawy-Hardy and Taylor note that this significant rise in female philanthropy requires organizations to actively involve women. The more women involved, the surer the campaign’s success.
So, why do women give more than men? One explanation accounts that women score higher on traits such as empathy and caring, which are key motivators when contributing to philanthropy. Debra J. Mesch, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute owed this trend to “women being socialized [as] the caregivers of their families and communities.” While men attribute their motivations in giving as practical (by funding organizations which make political change and taking advantage of tax deductions) , women describe their motive as an emotional obligation to help those in need.

As women galvanize the philanthropic sectors of the economy, it is critical that non-profits get them involved at every level. As Christine Grumm, president and C.E.O. of the Women’s Funding Network, expressed, “Women are the conduits through which change is made.”

At Bright Funds, we believe in investing in a better world. Whether your motivations be to help others, improve the environment, or fight poverty, we challenge you to create the changes you wish to see.
Zoe Bernard, Contributing Editor