New Study Examines Technology’s Positive Impact on Women’s Philanthropy

Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

Report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute is the first to focus on technology and giving through a gender lens

A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), Women Give 2020 – New Forms of Giving in a Digital Age: Powered by Technology, Creating Community, offers new research focused on how women give more than men, even as technology disrupts philanthropy. The report encompasses research that shows broad gender differences in how women and men use the Internet and social networks, and how they give online.

Women Give 2020 finds that women are giving more gifts and a greater proportion of total donated dollars on tech platforms, women’s and girls’ causes receive substantially more online support from women donors, and technology enables women to give according to their preferences. The report, which is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also finds that building community—both online and offline—and adopting a broader definition of philanthropy are key for nonprofit organizations and online platforms to better appeal to women donors.

“Everyone can demonstrate they have the power to be the change they want to see in the world through philanthropy thanks to technology and social media,” said Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. “For years, our research has shown that women give more than men. Now, we know the pattern continues via technology, enabling women of all backgrounds to connect and build powerful, trusted online communities that support broader causes as well.”

Women Give 2020 takes a novel approach by using data and interviews from four partner organizations (GivingTuesday via Charity Navigator, GlobalGiving, Givelify, and Growfund via Global Impact) to develop case studies based on more than 3.7 million gift transactions. Three overarching themes emerged from the overall data:

  1. Women give more online gifts than men and contribute a greater proportion of online dollars overall. Across all four case studies, women give greater numbers of gifts than men (nearly two-thirds of gifts, across platforms). Women’s greater number of donations means they collectively are giving more dollars than men through each platform studied.
  2. Women give smaller online gifts than men and give to smaller charitable organizations than men.
  3. Women’s and girls’ organizations receive substantially more support—online and offline—from women donors than from men donors. Three of the four case studies examined funding for women’s and girls’ causes, with women giving between 60% and 70% of online dollars to women’s and girls’ organizations, depending on the dataset.

The following three findings are specific to one or two of the individual data sets analyzed in the study and should not be generalized as representative of results across all four platforms.

  1. A broader definition of philanthropy can help a movement spread globally and engage a diverse set of donors—appealing to women in particular. Expanding the definition of philanthropy to be more than giving money, such as giving time, skills or testimony, can help a movement spread globally, fueled by a diverse set of donors.
  2. Compared to traditional methods of giving, technology enables donors to give in the way they would like and to discover organizations that align with their values and interests; platforms can also support online donors by curating causes and by building trust with donors. A case study provides an example of curating and presenting these choices for donors.
  3. To appeal to women donors, platforms and organizations must build community online and continue to support in-person connections for donors. While technology means giving is increasingly taking place online, case studies show that in-person community remains essential for engagement in philanthropy.

Women Give 2020—the newest in a series of signature research reports conducted annually by WPI—builds upon a body of research that shows the many ways in which gender matters in philanthropy. Across the platforms studied, women collectively give more using digital tools compared to their male counterparts. The findings suggest a critical opportunity for entrepreneurs, fundraisers and the broader philanthropic community to design online experiences that cultivate a broader definition of philanthropy and better serve a diverse group of donors, particularly women.

To accompany the report release, WPI is releasing a new video to encourage everyone to consider how they can use the platforms they are on every day—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and beyond—to support the causes they care about. The video will be accompanied by a series of podcasts to contextualize the findings. The video, podcast, research and other content can be found here and everyone is encouraged to join the #PhilanthropyPluggedIn conversation on social media.

About the Women’s Philanthropy Institute

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. WPI increases understanding of women’s philanthropy through rigorous research and education, interpreting and sharing these insights broadly to improve philanthropy. By addressing significant and groundbreaking research questions and translating that research into increased understanding and improvements in practice, WPI helps to leverage new and expanded resources for the common good.
About the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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