A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute in the United States has valuable lessons for all donors and nonprofits.

women’s fund and foundation donorsA new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) in the United States finds that women’s fund and foundation donors – the vast majority of whom are women – are exemplary in a number of ways. They give more, are more engaged and give more strategically.

The recently launched All In For Women and Girls report offers a number 0f key findings about women’s fund and foundation donors, including:

They give more. Women’s fund and foundation donors give higher amounts to charity, and to more charitable organizations. They’re also more likely to give at capacity to women and girls, and to be satisfied with their gifts to these causes.

They know their stuff. Donors to women’s funds and foundations have given to women’s and girls’ causes for a longer period of time, the majority for at least a decade. By comparison, general donors have taken an interest in women’s and girls’ causes recently, especially within the last five years.

They do more than write a cheque. Women’s fund and foundation donors are more likely to participate in activities that enable more effective giving, such as serving on a nonproft board or talking with other donors, and to use different tools for giving, such as giving circles.

They give for different reasons. Donors to women’s funds and foundations are more motivated to give by being on the board or volunteering for an organisation and believing their gift can make a difference. Only 11% say they are motivated by tax benefits, compared to 23% of within the last five years.

They have different demographic characteristics. Women’s fund and foundation donors are less likely to be religious and more likely to be women or LGBTQ individuals. Nearly 12% of women’s fund and foundation donors identify as LGBTQ, over four times the proportion in the general donor sample.

They give during their career. For women’s fund and foundation donors, philanthropy appears to be more integrated into their day-to-day lives, rather than something to focus on during retirement. Just 36% of these donors are retired, compared to 55% of general donors.

They see philanthropy differently. Women’s fund and foundation donors are more likely to consider themselves philanthropic experts, philanthropic leaders, and activist donors; they are also more likely to associate the term ‘philanthropist’ with positive attributes.

women’s fund and foundation donors

Implications of the study

In the study, 77% of the donors made their most significant gift to women’s and girls’ causes in the past 19 years. The report acknowledges that this is not enough time to show systemic results, but that the study does give an initial understanding about a group of donors who dedicate the time, talent, treasure, and testimony required to transform the world for women and girls – and that these donors give with a focus on systemic change.

The report argues that the findings provide valuable lessons for all donors and nonprofits.

For example, there are lessons to be learned by nonprofit organisations around how these groups create community with personal connections, longevity and donor retention, and deeper engagement and education. The consistent support of women’s fund and foundation donors is also instructive for other causes that may have or seek to identify dedicated, long-term supporters. In general they provide an example of how to build a collective, multimodal approach that is both broad and deep.

Women’s fund and foundation donors also serve as examples of activist philanthropists, for whom being visible as a donor is critical to propelling change. And by identifying a specific set of goals for their philanthropy, they demonstrate how donors can have an outsized effect on the cause or causes most important to them.

The report was based on a sample of 979 high-net-worth respondents. To read the full report go here.

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. WPI increases understanding of women’s philanthropy through rigorous research and education, interpreting and sharing these insights broadly to improve philanthropy.

Read more WPI research on impact investing, giving circles and post-retirement giving.

 

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