December 15, 2011

Wealthy Women Chief Decision Makers About Charitable Giving

Findings alert nonprofits to adapt their approaches to women’s behavior, motivations

Women are different from men in many respects, not least in their influence over charitable giving decisions, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2011 Study of High Net Worth Women's Philanthropy, released Monday.

Indeed, in some 90% of high-net-worth households, women are either the sole decision maker or an equal partner in decisions about charitable giving, the study found. This may mean that some charities will need to adapt their messaging and strategies to appeal to women's distinct giving behaviors and motivations, the bank said in a statement.

This latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch study draws on the expertise of the Women's Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy. It offers several insights into similarities and differences between high-net-worth women and men donors.

The study found that women were more strategic than men in their charitable giving, with 78% creating an annual giving strategy and/or budget compared with 72% of men.

In addition, women’s personal experience with a nonprofit and the organization's ability to communicate its impact are important factors to donors (women 82% and 46%, respectively; men 73% and 32%) when making charitable giving decisions.

When making a gift, 80% of women and 68% of men expect the nonprofit to honor their request for how the gift is used, and to share with them the positive effect their gift has had (women 45%, men 26%). In addition, more high-net-worth women (91%) than men (83%) expect nonprofit organizations to send a receipt for tax purposes.

Women (82%) are likelier than men (71%) to be motivated to give when they are moved by how their gift can make a difference in the

world, and because they want to set a good example for the next generation (women 44%, men 25%). Efficient use of their gifts (women 81%, men 69%) and giving back to the community (women 78%, men 63%) were among the top motivations for women donors.

Being actively involved with an organization and its mission through volunteering is also one of the most powerful motivators for women to give (women 66%, men 50%). Men are more likely to cite supporting the same causes year after year as a motivation (men 68%, women 60%) for giving.

Women (49%) are more likely than men (41%) to stop giving to an organization they previously supported, with "too frequent solicitation/asked for inappropriate amount" cited as the top reason by both genders. Other reasons to stop giving include changed household circumstances (31% women, 28% men) and/or leadership or activities changes at the organization (29% for both).

More than 87% of high-net-worth women report that they had volunteered, compared with about 78% of high-net-worth men. During their working years, wealthy women and men volunteer at similar levels, whereas retired women (85%) volunteer more than retired men (72%)

More women (50%) than men (34%) have a high degree of confidence in the ability of nonprofit organizations to solve societal and global problems.

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