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AFP Awards Large Grant to Research Bequest Giving

(July 21, 2008) AFP recently awarded a research grant of $19,790 to fund new research to be conducted by prominent scholars at The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University—Purdue University in Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., the Center’s director of research and interim executive director, and Melissa S. Brown, associate director of research and managing editor of Giving USA, will explore the topic, “Gender Differences on Motives that Drive Bequest Behavior.”

“We are thrilled to receive this grant,” said Rooney. “This area of research is significantly understudied and will give us a first look at motivations for charitable bequests between men and women. The size and scope of the research, using eight large datasets, will allow us to draw valuable insights.”

Rooney and Brown will examine gender differences in bequest giving by analyzing several large existing datasets, including numbers on high net-worth donors. Their analysis will allow for further exploration of the gender differences (and perhaps regional changes) in giving motives (if any) between those with a charitable bequest and those who do not have a charitable bequest.

They hope to enhance the understanding of the roles gender plays in planned giving decisions, help practitioners ensure that planned giving programs take gender differences into account, and build a foundation for more scholarly research in this area. 

The gender issue is critical for understanding planned giving and bequest behavior, say the scholars. They point out that government statistics show women outlive men by seven years and that the average age of a widow is 55 years (U.S. Census Bureau). It has also been predicted that women will control 90 percent of the anticipated $41 trillion transfer of wealth in the next fifty years (Havens et al, 1999). By capturing the patterns of bequest giving by gender, philanthropic researchers and practitioners will have a comprehensive understanding of the vital, sustaining role women have in the nonprofit sector, the scholars wrote in their research proposal.

“We are very excited to award this grant and fund such promising research,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, president and CEO of AFP. “We look forward to seeing what Rooney and Brown’s in-depth research uncovers. Having a better understanding of why men and women leave bequests is extremely valuable to fundraisers.”

The Legacy Leaders Planned Giving Research Grant Program is made possible by AFP Foundation for Philanthropy and Legacy Leaders Inc. of Toronto. Grants are awarded by the AFP Research Council.

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