Strategic Planning

Women Give is an annual report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. This year’s study, Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving Across Communities of Color, examines the intersection of race, gender and giving, and asks how we can attend to this intersection in order to better serve our communities and shared futures. Communities of color are frequently underrecognized in the philanthropic sector both as donors and fundraisers, attributable to institutionalized discrimination and historical and ongoing economic barriers, among other factors. However, communities of color have always been philanthropic – this report seeks to draw increased visibility to the role and impact of women of color in the philanthropic sector.

The study relied on two data sets to gain insights into this intersection: The Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS) representing the general population of the United States, in addition to the U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy (HNW); both data sets were divided into racial categories based on the self-identified race/ethnicity of the head of the household. The report includes findings based on the data analysis in addition to insights from supplemental case studies profiling the philanthropic pathways and perspectives of six women.

The report’s overarching conclusion that philanthropy is a shared practice and value across racial lines is something that many of us have recognized through our own experiences and work in fundraising. This report offers concrete data reflecting this notion and the following broad findings:

  • Household giving is a consistent practice across the racial groups studied, as are the causes they choose to support. All racial groups give, particularly those of high net worth.
  • Accounting for historical and ongoing differences in wealth and income, giving amounts are not impacted by race. When factors known to affect giving such as wealth and income are taken into consideration, a donor’s race does not have a significant effect on the amount given to charity.
  • Gender differences in giving are consistent across the racial groups included in the study. Across racial groups, single women are more likely to give than single men, and married couples or couples living together are more likely to give than single women or men.
  • Differences in rates and forms of volunteering exist across these racial groups. Some research shows that communities of color may be less engaged in formal volunteering, but other research indicates that communities of color participate in informal volunteering at higher rates (giving time, just not via a formal organization or program).

How can your organization apply these insights?

Previous reports from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute have focused on the philanthropic behavior of all women, while this report applies the concept of intersectionality to recognize that the philanthropic sector and our experiences of it are affected by our gender in addition to our race. Here is how your organization can apply these findings:

  • Intentionally engage donors of color. Donors of color tend to be solicited less than their white counterparts. Organizations should ask existing donors of color about their priorities, gather new data through engagement and outreach to business, nonprofit and professional networks to increase knowledge on donors of color, find ways to connect donors of color to one another, and ensure excellence in ongoing stewardship practices.
  • Expand your definition of philanthropy by creating opportunities to donate “time, talent, and testimony” in addition to “treasure.” By creating a menu of opportunities for engagement, your organization is better positioned to expand its network of donors and supporters. Consider how you are describing your engagement opportunities and find language to convey both informal and formal structures for engagement. Volunteering is often network-based, so a consideration of engaging donors through social, political, geographical or other non-philanthropic networks could allow for a wider reach.
  • Invest in the attraction and retention of a diverse team, and the creation of an inclusive organizational culture. Make your organization representative of the communities you are hoping to engage. Hiring and retaining people of color as fundraisers allows for diverse perspectives to be prioritized throughout the philanthropic process.

This report is paired with the Women’s Philanthropy Institute’s #IAmAPhilanthropist campaign, which puts a spotlight on women who give back – see their interviews here.

BWF can support your organization in applying these insights. Contact us to learn more.