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February 16, 2012

The Giving Characteristics of High Net Worth Women: Going beyond the “warm and fuzzy” stereotype of women donors

by Women's Fund

By: Angela E. White, CFRE
Senior Consultant and CEO
Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates

Bank of America and The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University recently published the fourth volume in a series of highly informative studies they have produced examining the philanthropic behavior of high net worth individuals. Click here for the study.

The most recent iteration of this study examined the specific philanthropic traits and preferences of high net worth women by combining previous data with a national survey of the American Red Cross’s Tiffany Circle, a group of female donors giving more than $10,000 each annually.

To no one’s surprise, they found that women of means behave differently than their male counterparts.

For instance, while both men and women shared many of the same motivations for giving, women were significantly more likely to be motivated to give based on the belief that their gift could make a difference.

Women were also more motivated by a desire to give back to their communities, and to support the organizations where they volunteered (a practice they were also more engaged in than their male peers!)

Women were also nearly twice as likely as men to donate in order to set an example for young people. The concept of supporting the legacy of others was similarly twice as likely to motivate women to give.

This behavior, however, shouldn’t be confused with some warm and fuzzy female stereotype. Women were significantly more concerned about the efficiency of the organizations that approached them for gifts and they were more likely to approach their giving with a distinct strategy and a set budget.

The study also found that women were less likely than men to give to an organization simply because they had given there before. Women were also significantly more concerned that nonprofit organizations honor the intent of their gifts, and more likely to expect nonprofits to provide them with ongoing communication and clear feedback on the impact of their giving.

Women care about the future and are ready to be passionate supporters, but that passion and hope should not be confused with naiveté.

Women who give do so because they want to make a difference, and they will hold organizations accountable for using their gift wisely.

I encourage you to read the report and think about how you are engaging as a donor to make transformative change.

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