Taking the Lead in Charitable Giving
donors have emerged as a power in charitable giving, and
their growing economic status greatly affects their participation
in philanthropy. As women increasingly create their own
wealth and become beneficiaries of wealth transfers because
of their longer life expectancies, they are stepping up
and taking on more active philanthropic leadership roles.
According to a study on the role of women’s funds
by The Foundation Center headquartered in New York City
and the Women’s Funding Network (WFN) in San Francisco
the members of WFN have assets of $465 million, give an
estimated $60 million a year and leverage millions more
through networks and relationships.
Thornton, a global audit, tax and advisory organization
headquartered in Chicago (www.grantthornton.com),
reported that gifts from women topped those from men by
almost $5 billion in 2005, the last year for which the IRS
included gender information in its publicly available gift
tax return data. It is important to note that it is not
only affluent women who make charitable contributions. According
to Katherine Swank, J.D., a consultant at Charleston, S.C.-based
Blackbaud, a provider of nonprofit software and services
women with annual incomes of less than $10,000, who are
often homemakers with children at home, give an average
of 5.4 percent of their adjusted gross income to charity.
a nonprofit organization seeking to cultivate women donors,
understanding how women’s philanthropic objectives
differ from those of men is of utmost importance. According
to Nicky McIntyre, executive director of Mama Cash in The
Netherlands, the oldest international women’s fund
men tend to be driven to philanthropy by the desire for
influence and recognition, whereas women are typically more
emotionally attached to the missions of the organizations
they fund. Women also tend to be more relationship-oriented
and seek to form collaborative networks with other like-minded
people, becoming “partners” with the organizations
they support. They strive to do more than simply give money;
they also want to offer their time and expertise and learn
in the process. As discussed in their book Reinventing
Fundraising, Realizing the Potential of Women’s Philanthropy
(Jossey-Bass, 1995), authors Sondra Shaw-Hardy and
Martha Taylor outline the “Six C’s” of
women’s motivation for giving:
Create. Women seek to create new organizations
or new programs within existing organizations.
Change. Women want to use their financial power
to effect change, rather than to preserve the status quo.
Connect. Women prefer to see the human face their
gifts affect and strive to build a partnership with people
connected with the projects they fund.
Collaborate. Women prefer to work with
others as part of a larger effort.
Commit. Women often volunteer for causes
they care about and often give to the organizations where
they have volunteered.
Celebrate. Women seek to celebrate their
accomplishments and have fun with philanthropy.
prominent way that women engage in charitable giving is
through giving circles—philanthropic vehicles in which
individual donors pool their money and other resources and
decide together where to donate them. Giving circles include
social, educational and engagement components that connect
participants to their communities, while increasing their
understanding of philanthropy and community issues. A 2007
study, More Giving Together, from the Forum of Regional
Associations of Grantmakers in Arlington, Va. (www.givingforum.org),
identified more than 400 circles, engaging more than 12,000
donors and giving close to $100 million over the course
of their existence.
Tips for Building a Successful Women’s Initiative
at Your Organization
Offered by Andrea Pactor, program manager for Philanthropic
Services at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University1
Conduct an audit of your organization.
In what ways are women involved? Assess your organizational
culture and identify the barriers that might preclude
a successful women’s initiative. Are staffing, resources
and leadership available for the project?
Review your fundraising message. What
language do you use when talking to women donors? Words
and phrases that resonate with many women include connect,
collaborate, create, partner, involve, participate, problem-solving
and call to action. Make sure the contributions
section of your website describes vision, mission, values
Make the connection between women who volunteer
for or are otherwise active in your organization and their
giving potential. Even if you don’t have
a women’s alliance, you do have a database. How
do you list your donors? Who pays attention to the name
on the check? Who follows up with the consistent annual
women donors in the $100 to $250 range? Take the time
to identify 100 in that group, assess their capacity,
invite them to learn more about your organization and
Consider generational differences. Develop
targeted mailings, programs and events to engage women
from different generations. Baby boomer women might have
different expectations of your agency than older or younger
Engage women donors. Women’s giving
circles have proliferated and achieved considerable success
around the country, in part because they offer opportunities
for networking, socializing and engagement. As fundraisers
seek to move women donors up the giving ladder, they might
offer a variety of programs and events to better connect
donors to the organization.
Rethink special events. For many nonprofits,
special events focus more on “friendraising”
than on “fundraising.” Annual balls, runs,
auctions, festivals, etc., are volunteer intensive—and
often the volunteers are women.
from Pactor’s September 2006 article in FundRaising
Success magazine, titled “Engage, Then Ask.”
Tips for Retaining Women Donors
Stay connected through newsletters, the Internet
or personal contact. It is crucial to be transparent in
Provide opportunities for involvement.
Involve and recruit women in decision-making roles, such
as board and committee members, foundation executives,
development officers and volunteer fundraisers.
Offer networking options and workshops focusing
on topics such as money management, investing and philanthropy.
Snyder recently joined CCS as the online sales and marketing
coordinator. CCS is proud to sponsor AFP Kaleidoscope as
part of its commitment to diversity. CCS is one of the most
comprehensive and widely recommended fundraising consulting
and management firms in the world. Established in 1947,
CCS designs and implements significant fundraising campaigns
and programs for leading nonprofit institutions. CCS projects
span the recognized nonprofit sectors.
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