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Women Give More to Charity than Men, New Study Shows

(Nov. 2, 2010) Women at virtually every income level are more likely to give to charity and to give more money on average than their male counterparts, after controlling for education, income and other factors that influence giving, new research from the Women's Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University finds.

"Looking at giving across five different income groups, which range roughly from $23,000 to $100,000 a year, it is clear that it is not only wealthy women who give," said Debra J. Mesch, Ph.D., director of the Women's Philanthropy Institute. "Women across nearly every income category give significantly more than their male counterparts--in many cases, nearly twice as much."

Women Give 2010 is the first report to compare philanthropic giving between men and women in the U.S. across all income levels based on a nationally representative sample. It uses data from the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS), the nation's largest study that tracks giving patterns among the same households over time.

"In the past, research has shown that women give smaller amounts and spread it around," Mesch explained in an interview Monday with eWire. "In other words, they give more frequently and to a larger number of charities. But what was surprising to me from this research was that women give higher dollar amounts. In some categories it's almost twice as much as men, and there was consistency across income levels. Female-headed households give more."

Previous studies of gender and philanthropy have relied on data related to giving by households and married couples, making the effects of gender on giving difficult to identify. Women Give 2010 analyzed only giving by households headed by single people in order to examine gender differences. Researchers controlled for factors that affect philanthropic behavior such as income, age, race, education, number of children, and more to allow direct comparisons between men and women.

The study compared and controlled for different types of singles. Never married and divorced women were more likely to give and to give more than males of the same marital status; however, widowed men give more than widowed women, the study found.

In every income bracket except for one, women give more than men.  The most dramatic differences are in the lowest, middle, and highest brackets where women give almost double the amount of men. The exception is women in the second lowest income bracket ($23,509 to $43,500), who give 32 percent less than men.

The study involved approximately 2,500 men and women in a nationally representative sample.

"These findings have the potential to affect both donors and charities significantly," Mesch said. "Women may not realize they are giving more than men because their giving patterns differ. Understanding the power of their giving may encourage more women to consider the difference they can make with their giving. Nonprofits may see this as a reminder to pay closer attention to the philanthropic power of women and the importance of developing fundraising strategies that will appeal to their priorities."

The full report is available at:

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