In light of International Women’s Day, we look at some of the gendered issues and trends in giving and working in the nonprofit sector.

Women working and giving to nonproft sectorIt was International Women’s Day (IWD) yesterday and in Australia, it feels less like a celebration than a reminder not much has changed since this time last year.

The Federal Government unveiled their anti-domestic violence campaign to coincide with IWD promoting the need to respect women, amidst a shroud of revelations and allegations that put into question the government’s track record in doing just that.

“The Parliament is starkly not immune from the sorts of issues that have impacted workplaces around the country and frankly around the world for far too long,” says Minister for Women, Marise Payne.

And neither is the nonprofit sector.

At the FIA Conference, Simon Scriver reminded us that one in four women in fundraising experience sexual harassment. The National Day of Conversation (NDOC) was established on November 26, 2019 by Wanda Deschampe and Liz LeClair to raise awareness of the issue of harassment within the nonprofit sector. A 2018 Harris Poll survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) showed that in 65% of the cases reported, the perpetrator was a donor. And sadly, 13% of those who reported felt that their organisations place a greater value on the loyalty of donors than the safety of its staff.

Women as givers

Many studies have shown that women are more likely to give and give more than men.

In Australia, women give a higher proportion of their income than men, despite the fact they earn less than men – and research shows the gender pay gap is widening.

But women’s generosity is not limited to donations. Women are also more likely to volunteer and take part in workplace giving than men. Among single women and men, about 51% of single women indicated they would give to charity compared to 41% of single men.

Just last week, we reported on a study from The Republic of Everyone and The Bravery which looked into the top environmental and social issues concerning Australians. The study, The Power and the Passion, showed there was a difference in the levels of concern between genders – women reported higher levels of extreme concerns for all issues than men by a margin of 5-10%.

Diversity amongst major donors is happening (hello, Mackenzie Scott!) but this is still slow work. Women currently hold one third of the world’s wealth and are increasing their wealth faster than ever before. With women outliving men, they will become instrumental in bequest giving as time goes on.

In Forbes List of Australia’s Richest People, Gina Rinehart takes out the number one spot but is only accompanied by five other women – not including Gina’s daughter, Bianca Rinehart and her siblings.

While nine of the 10 richest people in Australia made money during the pandemic, the average woman was generally and disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Women experienced higher levels of job losses than men and their jobs returned on a more part-time or casualised basis than men’s jobs. We heard stories of women taking on even more carer roles. The pandemic recession widened the gender pay gap – and economists fear that weak government policies could exacerbate it.

Women-focused organisations

In the United States, women are the driving force behind an increase in donations to organisations focusing on women and girls, according to research by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI). Spurred by the 2016 presidential election, unprecedented numbers of Americans joined social movements like the Women’s March. More than $2 million came through GoFundMe for the march. Planned Parenthood received more than 300,000 donations – 40 times its normal rate – as discussions around women’s reproductive choices and government funding raged around them.

Organisations dedicated to women and girls saw steady growth in philanthropic support from 2012 to 2017. This support increased by 36.4%, which was similar to growth seen by non-WGI organisations for the same period (36.9%).

But despite piquing society’s interest in issues related to women and girls philanthropic support still has room to grow, as shown by WPI’s Women and Girls Index 2020.

With women and girl’s organisations accounting for 3.4% of all charitable organisations in the US (equating to 47,000 organisations), philanthropic support for these organisations only represents 1.6% of overall charitable giving. Women and girls’ organisations fall behind religious organisations, education, human services, health, international affairs, arts, culture and humanities, and environment and animals.

Closer to home and Australians Investing in Women is working towards encouraging people to intentionally invest in women and girls, particularly after the impact of COVID-19. The NFP also encourages organisations to adopt a gender lens to their programs, ensuring they’re not creating barriers – conscious or not – to accessing support.

Perpetual’s 2020 Australian Philanthropy Insights Report of applications for their IMPACT Philanthropy Application Program (IPAP) showed that only a quarter of applications indicated they had done a gender analysis of the project for which they were seeking funding. It was clear that many organisations weren’t clear on what applying a gender lens to their programs entailed, or how to implement learnings into their delivery.

In terms of popular causes, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), released the report Australia Giving 2019 showing women were more likely to have given to animal welfare than men, while men are more likely to have given to overseas aid, environmental protection and anti-corruption initiatives.

Perpetual also saw major support for conservation and environment organisations (up 117%) and animal welfare organisations (up 177%) in 2020 – no surprise considering the devastating effects of the bushfires and its wide-reaching coverage.

In The Power and the Passion report, domestic violence came in as the sixth most concerning issue behind environmental issues such as plastic waste, loss of forests and habitats, and toxic chemicals.

Women working in nonprofits

Refreshingly, women representation on NFP boards (40%) are significantly higher than on ASX200 company boards (285), according to a study released by Koda Capital called A Snapshot of Australian Giving. But there’s still much for the sector to do (and let’s not forget about the rates of sexual harassment).

A report released in 2017 by the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership, a collaboration between Deakin University and Save the Children, showed that while women can make up 75% of the nonprofit workforce, only 43% of CEOs are women. While this research was from the US, Australia is facing the exact same issue. And, of course, we need to acknowledge that the gender pay gap still exists in our sector.

Within fundraising, we have some examples of great women leaders from Katherine Raskob, CEO of FIA, Karan Mahlab AM, Founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia to the numerous women CEOs leading nonprofits around the country.

It was also great to see women being recognised for their contribution to their sector in the FIA Awards with Wendy Scaife taking out the Arthur Venn Lifetime Achievement Award and Trudi Mitchell recognised as Fundraiser of the Year.

Women are the bedrock of the nonprofit world: from donors, potential donors, beneficiaries, employees and leaders. Their wellbeing is key to our sector. So let’s celebrate women and challenge our sector to do more for women, pay them equally, promote them, and work for justice for women everywhere – not just on 8 March, but every day. We owe it to them.

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