Women and Men Give Differently

Members of a self-help group in Ethiopia, supported by grantee Union of Ethiopian Women Charitable Association, counting the weekly money saved. (Photo courtesy Union of Ethiopian Women Charitable Association / UN Women) Posted for media use.

By Sunny Lewis

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, May 28, 2019 (Maximpact.com News) – When planning campaigns, wise fundraisers take into account the real differences in the ways in which women and men give to charitable organizations. “From motivations to causes to behavior, women and men demonstrate different giving patterns,” finds new research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Based on an analysis of 209 women’s foundations and funds that award grants to programs and organizations benefiting women, the report, “Women’s Foundations and Funds: A Landscape Study,” released May 15, found that 37 percent were standalone organizations while the rest were affiliates of a larger foundation or other organization. Only eight percent were private foundations.

“While women’s foundations and funds are relatively young, these organizations excel at identifying the needs of women and girls locally, and in turn help create positive change in their communities,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Gillespie, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Gillespie says the goal of this new research is to demonstrate how women’s foundations and funds create impact, so they can continue to do so for years into the future.

Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, CEO Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at the conference Fortune Brainstorm HEALTH 2018, Laguna Niguel, California, March 19, 2018 (Photo by Stuart Isett / Fortune) Creative Commons license via Flickr

Women’s foundations and funds are a recent development, 71 percent were established between 1990 and 2010, but their giving is substantial.

Women’s Funding Network (WFN) members alone granted over US$400 million to women and girls in 2017, and there are dozens more women’s foundations and funds in the United States that are not members of this international network.

While the number of women’s foundations and funds making grants to programs and organizations benefiting women as a priority have grown over the past 50 years, there are gaps in what is known about these organizations and their work,

The new study builds on a 10-year-old report by The Foundation Center  and the Women’s Funding Network, which produced a overview of women’s funds with a focus on giving to women and girls. This new study provides an update on the growth and activities of women’s foundations and funds in the decade since then.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study found that 44 percent of the standalone women’s foundations and funds in the sample grew their assets between 2014 and 2016, while 14 percent saw their assets decline.

Annual grant amounts awarded by women’s foundations and funds varied as well, ranging from a low of $2,500 to a high of almost $130 million in 2016.

Nearly half (44 percent) of these organizations distribute less than $100,000 in grants per year, and 40 percent grant between $100,000 and $1 million.

Although they vary in terms of geographic focus, asset size, average grant size, and grantmaking scope, a majority of the foundations and funds in the study had many elements in common.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) were focused on making grants to local nonprofits, in keeping with the idea that women’s foundations and funds often strive to connect the well-being and success of women to the well-being and success of their communities.

In addition, a majority of the foundations and funds surveyed listed as priority funding areas education (63 percent) and economic empowerment as well as security, and self-sufficiency (61 percent). This prioritizing is a key strategy for achieving broader goals such as gender equality.

Gillespie writes, “…across grants, impact is considered important.”

One Midwest-based interviewee told Gillespie, “We all want [grants] to have impact, but we also have learned that impact can be very hard to measure…Even though the organizations themselves, of course, want to have impact, one of the things we’ve learned and talked about is that sometimes, instead

of trying to measure impact, you just have to look at [whether] things are going in the right direction.”

Graphic showing the different ways of charitable giving by women and by men created by The Women’s Philanthropy Institute, 2019. Posted for media use.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) provided support to their grantees beyond the grant, including resources such as:

  • mentoring and technical assistance (32 percent);
  • educational, engagement, networking, knowledge-sharing, and leadership conferences (30 percent);
  • research (23 percent);
  • women-focused programming (23 percent);
  • partnerships and collaborations (21 percent);
  • advocacy (16 percent).

To unlock the full potential of women’s philanthropy, says The Women’s Philanthropy Institute, we must understand how gender shapes giving behavior and what drives women to give. The Women’s Philanthropy Institute exists to conduct, curate and disseminate rigorous research that grows women’s philanthropy.

Women’s wealth has been on the rise during the past 50 years, and females now own roughly 40 percent of global wealth, research by The Women’s Philanthropy Institute shows, and women are more likely than men to engage in charitable giving.

The leader of a women’s foundation/fund in the Southwestern United States was quoted in the report as saying, “The way we really have defined gender equality is through the lens of economic stability and the opportunity to have economic stability. The [community foundation] as a whole is committed to closing the opportunity gap in [our area]. The women’s fund is a key strategy [for] being able to do that, and we do that by investing in…alleviating the barriers to economic stability for women.”

Gillespie, lead author of the new study, concludes, “Although these organizations tend to be young and small in size, women’s foundations and funds excel at identifying the needs of diverse groups of women and girls and bringing community leaders together to address important issues through

the lenses of gender and social change. As these organizations grow and evolve, we can expect an increased focus on sustainability and impact measurement that refects their long-term commitment to ensuring investments in women and girls continue to have a ripple efect throughout their communities in the coming years.”

Whatever your gender and whatever the precise focus of your nonprofit group, improving your fundraising skills is crucial to the success of your campaigns.

Maximpact offers online Fundraising Masterclasses for nonprofits from anywhere in the world.

Participants learn about the different types and sources of donations, how to assess them and how to choose the best option for their NGO’s projects.

They can improve their understanding of the fundamentals of why and how donors give, and how as fundraisers they can meet donors’ goals.

The participants learn how to approach different donors, how to prepare, how to present and how to follow up on established contacts.

Finally, the online Fundraising Masterclass offers understanding of the most common fundraising challenges and pitfalls and teaches ways to overcome them.

For more information contact Maximpact at: [email protected]

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