Women's Fund and Foundation Donors Give More, Study Finds

Women's Fund and Foundation Donors Give More, Study Finds

High-net-worth donors to women's funds and foundations give more to charity — and give to more organizations — than do other high-net-worth donors, a report from the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report, All In for Women & Girls: How Women's Fund and Foundation Donors Are Leading Through Philanthropy (36 pages, PDF), compared survey responses from high-net-worth donors to about twenty women's funds and foundations with those from high-net-worth "general donors" who had donor-advised fund accounts with a national DAF sponsoring organization. According to the study, the sample of women's fund and foundation donors gave more, on average, in 2017 than did the sample of general donors — both in terms of total giving ($48,309 vs. $30,027) and in giving to women's and girls' causes ($12,790 vs. $7,626) — and directed their giving to a greater number of recipients, 19.2 (compared with 14.3 for the general sample), including 3.2 organizations (compared with 1.1 for the general sample) serving women and girls. More than a third (36.4 percent) of women's fund and foundation donors also said they were thinking of increasing their support for women and girls over the next five years, compared with 28.9 percent of general donors.

The report also found that donors to women's funds and foundations are more likely than general donors to use multiple tools and strategies for giving — giving cash, creating a charitable provision in their wills, donating stock, and/or contributing through a giving circle; were more likely than general donors to take part in "activities that enable more effective giving," such as serving on a nonprofit's board, talking with other donors, attending conferences or workshops on philanthropy, and collaborating with other funders or organizations; and were more likely than general donors to say they donate because they volunteer for or serve on the board of an organization, want to give back to their community, or because of their political or philosophical beliefs.

"Women's fund and foundation donors serve as examples of activist philanthropists, for whom being visible as a donor is critical to propelling change," the report's authors conclude. "Women's fund and foundation donors have learned to evaluate organizations and funding opportunities with a gender lens. As a result, they may influence organizations to ensure that women are represented on the staff and the board, and receive equal compensation and benefits. Women’s fund and foundation donors also exemplify how, by identifying a specific set of goals for their philanthropy, donors can have an outsized effect on the cause or causes most important to them."

"All In for Women & Girls: How Women’s Fund and Foundation Donors Are Leading Through Philanthropy." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Women’s Philanthropy Institute Report 07/23/2019.