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Why and How to Engage Women Donors

Women make up 45 percent of American millionaires. In 2013, an estimated 60 percent of high-net-worth women made their own fortunes, and some estimates put as many as two-thirds of all wealth in the U.S. will be controlled by women by the year 2030. Women’s influence in philanthropy continues to change.

Did you know that single women are giving more often and in greater amounts compared to single men? This giving is consistent across almost all types of charities except for sports and recreation. Furthermore, charitable donations from female philanthropists have increased as women gain access to one-third of the wealth in the world through higher academic, professional attainments, and double inheritances.

What can you do to develop relationships and attract women donors to your organization?

Connect and engage women donors.

Research shows that women have three main reasons why they choose a charity to work with and donate to. If your organization is associated with either of the following motivations, this plays to your advantage:

  • Provide assistance or aid to individuals suffering from inequality or discrimination, primarily based on gender
  • Offer support for women’s rights
  • Encourage a positive perception of women and girls

Examples of organizations supported by women philanthropists include:

  • Anti-trafficking
  • Protecting women from violence
  • Reproductive rights
  • Women’s health
  • Political and civic involvement for women
  • Academic research dedicated to women’s issues
  • Documentary films

Among donors surveyed by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, 33 percent of women gave to charitable organizations that serve women and girls, compared to only 25 percent of men (Mesch et al., 2015). If your organization benefits women or is involved in one of the examples of funding support by women donors, this can increase your ability to connect with women in philanthropy.

 How can you attract women donors?

Start by engaging women donors. Women rank volunteering for an organization as a top motivator for giving. Women are also motivated by knowing other women are supporting organizations they care about – try forming a giving network to bring women together to make philanthropic decisions. Think about taking risks with your own fundraising efforts. Rather than simply asking for an annual donation, request funding for an out-of-the-ordinary project. Ask donors to assist with lending their advice for a project. Take a look at the individual woman philanthropist and identify skills or assets she can bring to your organization. Highlight these attributes and request more than just a financial donation.

Also, find risk-taking donors. Overall, men are conventional donors in the sense that they are less likely to step beyond the traditional modality of writing a check to support a fundraiser. Women donors, on the other hand, are more comfortable being a risk-taker. This involves strategizing how to support an organization. For example, a female philanthropist may provide gap funding, funds for startups, advising for nonprofits, offering multi-year support, or funding research.

These methods of support are equally as vital to a charitable organization. More importantly, this offers women philanthropists the opportunity to truly become involved with a nonprofit, rather than just funding it blindly.

You are likely to be pleasantly surprised at the increased support and active involvement by women donors. At the same time, for women who do not have the financial resources to give as much as they want to, offering several opportunities for engagement affords them the ability to support your cause that may be important to them. It is a philanthropic win for everyone.

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