Women's and girls' causes received $7.1 billion in 2017, study finds

Women's and girls' causes received $7.1 billion in 2017, study finds

U.S. nonprofits working to advance women's and girls' causes received $7.1 billion in charitable contributions in 2017, the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds.

Based on data from nearly forty-seven thousand charities dedicated to serving women and girls and collectives of women and girls serving general philanthropic purposes, the second edition of the Women & Girls Index: Measuring Giving to Women's and Girls' Causes (32 pages, PDF) found that the charities in the sample accounted for 3.4 percent of all charitable organizations in the U.S., up slightly from 3.3 percent in 2016, while support for those organizations as a share of total individual, foundation, and corporate giving remained unchanged at 1.6 percent. 

According to the report, support for women's and girls' causes between 2012 and 2017 increased 36.4 percent — keeping pace with the rate of growth in overall charitable giving and jumping 9.4 percent in 2017. Nonprofits focused on reproductive health saw especially strong growth, up more than 85 percent during the five-year period and surging 33.7 percent in 2017 alone. In addition, organizations working to address family and gender-based violence saw strong growth of 41.6 percent between 2012 and 2017. 

The study also found that government grants to women's and girls' organizations increased 34.4 percent over the five-year period, significantly above the 14.6 percent growth rate for other charitable organizations. At the same time, women's and girls' nonprofits saw slower revenue growth than other charities (25 percent among women's and girls' nonprofits vs. 31.3 percent among other organizations), slower growth in asset values (22.6 percent vs. 35.5 percent), and slower growth in expenses (21.2 percent vs. 30 percent).

"While women's and girls' organizations saw steady growth in philanthropic support from 2012 to 2017, contributions to these organizations continue to comprise a relatively small share of overall charitable giving," said Debra Mesch, professor of philanthropic studies and Eileen Lamb O'Gara Chair in Women's Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. "For any organization or donor invested in women and girls, the WGI provides powerful empirical data and stories of growth and challenges that can help the sector work collectively to address gaps in funding."

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

"The Women & Girls Index: Measuring Giving to Women’s and Girls' Causes." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Women's Philanthropy Institute report 12/08/2020. "Giving to women's and girls' causes remains at 1.6% of all charitable giving." Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Women's Philanthropy Institute press release 12/08/2020.