Engage, Then Ask
Women have access to more wealth today than ever before — whether it be earned, married into or inherited. Nonprofit organizations that focus on engaging women donors have more opportunities to broaden their donor bases; to build strong, long-term support; to tap into a remarkable leadership pool; and to realize their missions more effectively.
Consider these facts if you’re hesitant about a special focus on women in your fundraising effort. The 2000 U.S. census reported there are 140 million women in the country, which equates to 6 million more women than men. Women have been the majority of college students since 1979; 30 percent of women ages 25 to 29 hold a bachelor’s degree or better. Education is a strong indicator of philanthropic activity. As of 2002, 43 percent of Americans with gross assets of more than $500,000 were women.
Here are six suggestions to help build a successful women’s initiative at your organization:
1. Conduct an audit of your organization. In what ways are women involved? Assess your organizational culture and identify the barriers that might preclude a successful women’s initiative. Are staffing, resources and leadership available for the project? In one instance, women on the development staff wanted to institute a women’s initiative at a small coed college. They had a vision and a plan. They encountered resistance from the predominantly male development and college leadership, and the idea was dropped.
2. Review your fundraising message. What’s your image in the community and on the Web? What language do you use when talking to women donors? Words and phrases that resonate with many women include connect, collaborate, create, partner, involve, participate, problem-solving and call to action. Make sure the contributions section of your Web site talks about vision, mission, values and impact before talking about philanthropic vehicles or ways to contribute.