Women Donors: Stereotypes Uprooted
FS Advisor: March 28, 2006
By Abny Santicola, editor, FundRaising Success Advisor
Throw away the old stereotypes you’ve heard about women donors -- that they give less than men or aren’t willing to part with their money at all. The characteristics of women donors are changing, says Donna P. Hall, executive director of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Women Donors Network, a national organization of progressive women philanthropists who give at least $25,000 a year to charity.
In a recent conversation, Hall highlighted some of the traits of women donors, emphasizing that while she doesn’t like to compare women to men, there are some very distinct differences between the two demographics.For one thing, women tend to be committed activists, heavily involved in the organizations they support. “They like to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of knowing what the organizations are doing instead of just cutting a check,” Hall says. Involvement includes everything from spending hours volunteering, to going on trips planned by the organization, to getting to know the staff and joining the board of directors.
This goes hand in hand with women’s concern about the quality of the organization and what it accomplishes. Hall says that, historically, women donors are more interested than men in the organizational outcomes after they write a check to a charity.
But what women donors “historically” look like is growing less applicable, Hall says. For example, women traditionally were more anonymous in their giving -- a trait that is changing as women’s relationship to money changes.
“The portrait of women giving money away is changing,” Hall says. “It used to be primarily women who came from inherited wealth and who did sort of charitable philanthropic things. That certainly exists to some extent, but there are also now women who are earning money that they’re giving away; women who are marrying money and marrying it at a time when their husbands made the money during their relationship ... not necessarily inherited it.”