New Study Shows Women Donors Are Redefining Philanthropy

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Aug. 16 2019, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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New study gives insight into women’s funds and foundation donors. “All in for Women and Girls”, was recently released by IUPUI Women’s Philanthropy Institute Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The research is the first of its kind in which it explores the characteristics of high-net-worth donors who donate to women’s funds and foundations. The sample used for the report surveyed major donors of twenty women’s fund and foundations, such as the Women’s Funding Alliance and Ms. Foundation for women.

Some of the key findings of the study include the demographic characteristics; the motivations behind why they give, and the findings that they donate at higher amounts and use non-traditional tools to give. Compared to donors who give to general organizations those who give to women’s funds and foundations are more likely to identify as women and/ or LGBTQ. They are also less likely to be retired or identify as religious.

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Another interesting characteristic of this group is their motivation to give. “This stood out to the researchers how involved in board service and volunteering with the organization the donors are,” said Elizabeth J. Dale, Assistant Professor, Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University and lead researcher. “Besides monetary value, they are also the biggest champions of those causes,” she continued.

Unlike general donors, those who give to women funds and foundations give at higher amounts to charity and to more charitable organizations. They are also more innovative in the ways that they give to these organizations. For example, those surveyed said they were apart of a giving circle, where groups of individuals donate their money or time to a pooled fund. Giving circles are a way of collaborating with others to donate as well as get them more involved in different causes.

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While the study did not breakdown those surveyed by age group, millennial women are no strangers to philanthropy. In 2014, eighty-four percent of millennial employees gave to charity and twenty percent donate more than an hour to a charitable cause according to a Case Foundation study. According to a study by Fidelity Charitable on “Women and Giving”, seventy-five percent of Millennial women admitted that their giving decisions are motivated by empathy.

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Similar to what was found in the Lilly Foundation study millennial women are more likely to crowdfund and give to a workplace fundraiser than baby boomer donors are. Chelsea Brown, logistics lead for The Young, Black, and Giving Back Institute offers this advice, “Millennials do not need to have a million-dollar net worth to be a philanthropist, find your own way, give your time and energy to organizations, give what you can monetarily, she said.

One thing this study shows is that donors to women funds and organizations are changing the way we approach philanthropy. Not only are they donating funds but giving is integrated into the donor’s life. As our social landscape and polices change, these women are heavily invested and more likely see themselves as an activist than just a donor. They are encouraging their networks to become apart of the solution and using non-traditional methods to achieve these goals.  As professor Dale stated, “if you want to have an impact on something you have to go all in.” Those in the study are a shining example of that and proving just how much of an influence they are on the next generation of philanthropist.

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By: Hollyn Randolph

Hollyn is a legal professional based in Washington DC. She has a passion for helping women succeed in the workplace especially as it relates to leadership roles. In the past she has worked with organizations such as Scripps Network, Ms. JD and was a volunteer with Women Lawyers for Hillary to name a few. When she is not working you can find her volunteering in the community, boarding a flight, or at an Art Museum.

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