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

Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Women’s Philanthropy Institute

HIGHLIGHTS

Gender equality and women’s and girls’ issues have taken center stage in recent years. From the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements to parental and family leave, to equal pay and workplace equality, there is a heightened awareness of gender issues from the grassroots level on up. Broad attention to these issues has created a unique moment to study philanthropy in support of women’s and girls’ causes. This giving has grown increasingly visible—overall, and by women’s funds and foundations in particular. First emerging in the 1970s, women’s funds and foundations focus on gender equality and other issues that disproportionately afect women and girls. This model of engagement, where donors give to a grantmaking organization specifcally dedicated to women and girls, may attract a diferent, more deeply engaged type of donor—or may encourage donors to become more involved by participating in the women’s fund.

To date, studies of women’s funds and foundations have been qualitative in nature, and have studied the organizations more than their donors. This study examines,
in a comprehensive and quantitative manner, the impact of women’s fund and foundation donors on women’s and girls’ causes. Previous research has shed light on women’s funds and foundations, on giving to women and girls, and on the impact of high-net-worth donors. This report addresses the intersection of these three factors to ask: What unique role do high-net-worth donors to women’s funds and foundations play in catalyzing support for women’s and girls’ causes?

On the continuum of donor commitment to women’s and girls’ causes, many donors fall somewhere in the middle: they give to beneft women and girls, often as part of a broader philanthropic portfolio that includes many charities and causes. Compared to these “general” donors, those who give to women’s funds and foundations represent the far end of the continuum as highly committed donor activists who dedicate the bulk of their philanthropy to advancing women’s and girls’ causes. Women’s fund and foundation donors give more to women and girls, bring more experience to their giving, address these issues with a gender lens perspective,

and even see themselves diferently—as leaders in philanthropy and advocates for women and girls. They give diferently to women and girls than do other donors, measuring the impact of their giving, using a variety of giving tools and vehicles, and aiming to address root causes of systemic problems.

This research can beneft donors—especially those who give to women and girls, or who are interested in doing so—as well as fundraisers and other nonproft leaders who seek to propel social change and work with gender-based issues. This study uses data from high-net-worth donors to understand how those donors support women’s and girls’ causes. However, its larger message about cultivating deep, personal, long-term engagements with donors can apply to all areas of philanthropy.

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ALL IN FOR WOMEN & GIRLS

KEY FINDINGS

Women’s fund and foundation donors…

  1. …havediferentdemographiccharacteristics.

    Compared to general donors, women’s fund and foundation donors are more likely to be women and LGBTQ individuals, and less likely to be retired or religious.

  2. …have more experience giving to women’s and girls’ causes.

    Compared to general donors, women’s fund and foundation donors have given to women’s and girls’ causes for a longer period of time.

  3. …see themselves, and philanthropy, diferently.

    Compared to general donors, women’s fund and foundation donors are more likely to consider themselves philanthropic experts, philanthropic leaders, and activist donors; they are also more likely to participate in philanthropic leadership activities and to associate the term “philanthropist” with positive attributes.

  4. …are motivated to give diferently.

    Compared to general donors, women’s fund and foundation donors are more motivated to give by being on the board or volunteering for an organization, giving back to the community, and believing their gift can make a diference.

  5. …give bigger, broader, and with diferent tools.

    Compared to general donors, women’s fund and foundation donors give higher amounts to charity, and to more charitable organizations; they also use diferent tools and strategies for giving, such as giving circles and wills with a charitable provision.

  6. …are more satisfed and more focused on evaluating their giving.

    Compared to general donors, women’s fund and foundation donors: are more satisfed with their giving to women and girls; evaluate their giving based on direct contact with organizations; and take key steps to give more efectively, such as serving on a nonproft board, or talking with other donors.

  7. …arededicatedtogivingtowomenandgirls—nowandinthefuture.

    Compared to general donors, women’s fund and foundation donors are more likely to be giving at capacity to women and girls, and are more likely to increase their giving to those causes if they were to have more resources. However, most general donors also plan to maintain or increase their giving to these causes.

To learn more, go to: https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/bitstream/handle/1805/19913/all-in-report.pdf

  • : Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Women’s Philanthropy Institute