Understanding the Relationship between Gender and Philanthropy

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Understanding the Relationship between Gender and Philanthropy

Women are making strides in charitable giving. What’s equally exciting is that they are doing it on their terms, in ways that are helping to reimagine and redefine their place and participation in the world of philanthropy.

Notable highlights from a 2016 Fidelity Charitable study of 3,254 “millennials” (born 1980-2000) and “Baby Boomers” (born 1946-64)* explored a variety of different behaviors and outlooks between the two generations, but also found that women of both generations shared several traits that differed from their male counterparts. When it comes to giving, women in both age groups:

  • View giving as a key part of their lives and are more likely to do it
  • Lead giving and volunteering efforts within their families and among their networks
  • Are more spontaneous, engaged and emphatic about their giving
  • Seek more information, and do so more often, about tax strategies and benefits related to giving
  • Prefer to be informed by experts rather than peers or family members
  • Exhibit more confidence than men when it comes to budgeting for giving, determining the causes they wish to support, and specifying amounts to give to those causes

*(Note: those born between 1965-1979, or “Generation X,” were not included in the study.)

Researchers from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University-Indianapolis, which has long examined gender as it relates to giving patterns, behaviors and satisfaction, also acknowledge women’s growing influence and power in philanthropy. This may be due, in part, to overall growth in female incomes, wealth and education levels; this growth has enabled more women to become increasingly interested in, informed about and involved with giving. That’s a trend that seems to be ongoing, with more research about it to come — in fact, it’s worth noting that their most recent study focuses on the intersection of race, giving and gender.

While we’re pleased about this positive outlook, we also realize that beginning to engage in charitable giving may feel like a daunting endeavor. We agree with other experts who say that taking some strategic first steps toward increasing one’s knowledge, confidence and participation in philanthropy can be empowering.

Women who want to commit to becoming donors should consider:

  • Researching the causes, organizations and/or initiatives that interest them, align with their values, and may stand out as priorities for their charitable giving funds.
  • Creating a “philanthropy budget” by earmarking specific amounts or assets, including cash, savings or monthly bank deduction(s), to contribute toward philanthropy.
  • Speaking with an investment professional to review charitable giving basics such as where, when, how much and what kinds of giving to begin with. An experienced advisor can also provide information about the tax ramifications of giving.

The future of women’s involvement in philanthropy is a bright one filled with fresh possibilities, and we welcome the opportunity to explore that future with you. Contact us today to discuss how we can help make charitable giving a part of your overall financial planning strategy.