The HOT trend in philanthropy has been emerging on the landscape for forty years; her influence and impact are felt in communities across the world. Although women have been philanthropic throughout history, women’s evolving economic position and social roles over the past forty years have begun to create a seismic transformation in their ability to give treasure as well as time and talent. More women are college graduates and beyond. More women are in the workforce. Women have increasing access to income and wealth. Family structures have changed. These cultural, social, and economic shifts have accentuated conditions for more women to be philanthropically engaged.
Research on the role of gender in philanthropy over the last ten years is ahead of practice. Research findings from a variety of substantive, empirical studies affirm the key role of women as givers and philanthropic decision-makers. The most recent study conducted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and released today in the report Women Give 2010 firmly places women as less of a trend and more of a classic on the philanthropic landscape.
For Women Give 2010 we examined giving by single men and women across five income groups, ranging roughly from $23,000 to $100,000+ a year, controlling for factors that affect philanthropic behavior such as income, wealth, education, race, number of children, religion, and health of household. The results show that women across nearly every income level compared to men are MORE LIKELY TO GIVE and GIVE MORE than their male counterparts – in many cases, nearly twice as much.
Other research conducted in the last five years at the Center on Philanthropy examined empathy and caring, two motives for giving. Males scored significantly LOWER on both of these motives and were significantly LESS LIKELY to give than women. Another study on charitable decision making in households found that the wife is more than TWICE AS LIKELY as the husband to decide how much to give and to what causes.
Research shows that males and females approach giving differently. They think differently about giving and give to different causes. Better understanding how men and women give will enable fundraisers to tailor appeals to more closely meet all donors’ interests and needs.
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute is the only institution that delivers research about the spectrum of women’s philanthropic activity worldwide. Our vision is to change the way people think about women and philanthropy. Current research by our colleagues is expanding and deepening understanding of how and why gender is important to philanthropy. Tomorrow you will hear from Laura Gee, the 2010 WPI Dissertation Fellow who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Californian San Diego. Next week Dr. Pamala Wiepking, Department of Sociology & Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, will respond to the Women Give 2010 study from an international perspective.
We’d like to hear from you, too. How do you think this research will change the environment for women’s philanthropy.