What Women Want
The 1990s marked a turning point in how nonprofit organizations regard women donors — as a financially high-powered cadre poised to give unprecedented amounts of time and money to charity.
Today, women own more than half the nation’s investment wealth and can be expected to accumulate even greater wealth as they increase their earned income and inherit much of the predicted $10 trillion intergenerational transfer of wealth in the coming decades, according to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, a national organization dedicated to supporting women as philanthropic leaders.
“The demographics of women donors are changing,” confirms Donna Hall, executive director of the Women Donors Network, a national organization of progressive women philanthropists who give at least $25,000 a year to charity. “Historically, this market was seen as women with just inherited wealth. Now that is changing because women are coming out with shared wealth, as well as their own wealth.”
With certain stereotypes deconstructed — old commonly held beliefs such as “women give less than men,” “women don’t give large donations” and “women might have the means but aren’t as willing to part with their money” — female contributors have emerged as a compelling force on the philanthropic playing field.
“Organizations are finding that they need to court, pay attention to and get serious about reaching women donors,” says Cynthia Woolbright, president of the Woolbright group, a nonprofit consultancy, and former vice president for alumnae relations and development at Hollins University. “Building relationships with women for the long haul is going to make a huge difference in an organization’s growth and success.”
Woolbright, who was a recent speaker at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Online Speaker Series, “Gender Matters: Women Donors & Philanthropists,” says that while many male donors are attracted by the prospect of visibility, female donors often shun the limelight, preferring instead to get involved and take part in an organization’s functions.