Gender Differences in Income Affect Couples' Giving, Study Finds

Gender differences in income affect the charitable causes to which married couples make donations, a report from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis finds.

The report, Where Do Men and Women Give? Differences in the Motivations and Purposes for Charitable Giving (38 pages, PDF), found that as the husband's income increases, the couple is more likely to give — and/or to give larger amounts — to religious, youth, international, and combined-purposes organizations (such as United Way, United Jewish Appeal, or Catholic Charities). When the wife's income increases, the couple is more likely to give — and to give larger amounts — to charities providing for basic human needs, such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and homeless shelters. In addition, households in which women make the decisions about charitable giving were more likely to support youth and family, health, and international causes, while those in which men make those decisions were more likely to support religion, education, and other causes. At the same time, 45 percent of men and women gave to causes that support women and girls — about two-fifths of men and half of women donors.

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study also found that, overall, women were more likely than men to give and give more in nearly every issue area, while among high-net-worth households (those with at least $250,000 in income and/or $1 million in assets not including principal residence), the gender differences were smaller. High-net-worth women were more likely than their male peers to say they give spontaneously in response to a need, based on their political or philosophical beliefs, or because they are on the board or volunteer for an organization.

"Women and men both bring their own preferences, priorities, and financial resources to a household, and they both influence the couple's charitable giving, but they affect it differently," said Una Osili, director of research for the School of Philanthropy. "For example, differences in men's and women's income shape not only the couple's overall giving but also what causes they support."

"Differences in Women's and Men's Income Affect What Types of Charities Couples Give to." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Press Release 09/18/2015. "Where Do Men and Women Give? Differences in the Motivations and Purposes for Charitable Giving." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Report 09/18/2015.