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How Millennial Women Are Modernizing Philanthropy: Fidelity Charitable

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Millennial women are updating their mothers’ generation’s approach to giving, Fidelity Charitable reported Tuesday.

Forty-nine percent of millennial women in a new study said they were open to new forms of giving, such as crowdfunding or giving circles, compared with 29% of baby boomer women, who tend to engage in more traditional giving methods.

Three-quarters of millennials said they were likelier to lead with their hearts than their heads when giving, versus 62% of boomers.

Older women, in contrast, are more strategic in their philanthropy, giving to fewer causes. Seventy-two percent also reported higher satisfaction with their giving, compared with 55% of younger ones.

Fidelity Charitable said these differences suggested that a more-focused giving approach could lead to a higher level of satisfaction among female donors over time.

Artemis Strategy Group, an independent research firm, conducted a survey in 2016 among 3,254 people in the U.S., including 1,706 women, who donated to charities and claimed itemized charitable tax deductions on their 2015 tax returns.

Hunger and access to nutritious food was the top cause of both boomer and millennial women in the survey.

The second main issue for boomers was developing treatment or cures for a disease, while for millennials it was access to basic health services, which was the third choice for older women; younger women’s third choice was protecting and preserving the environment.

Millennial women were likelier than their older counterparts to discuss and encourage giving among their peers and make it an emotional part of their relationships with spouses and partners.

Sixty-three percent of millennials reported being torn between a desire to make a charitable donation and the need to hold on to money for personal needs, compared with 41% of boomers.

At the same time, older women were likely to have different immediate financial concerns, from ensuring adequate retirement resources to effectively managing wealth, which may explain, Fidelity Charitable said, why 37% of boomers value tax incentives for giving, compared with 29% of millennials.

Male-Female Differences

Generational differences among women notwithstanding, the common threads among them distinguish their giving style from that of men even when accounting for differences such as age, income and education, according to the Fidelity Charitable study.

A separate recent study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University found that men’s and women’s donor behavior has changed over the past 40 years, and that women now have greater influence over charitable decision making.

Sixty-four percent of women in the Fidelity Charitable study said they were motivated by their heart rather than their head when making giving decisions, compared to 53% of men.

At the same time, 60% of men said they gave from a strategic mindset that takes into account the tax benefits of giving, while 51% of women said they gave in the moment.

Despite their differing motivations, both men and women considered themselves fairly engaged in philanthropy.

The study found that women prioritized advice from independent or authoritative sources when making giving decisions, such as charity ratings services, subject matter experts and nonprofit staff members.

Men, too, looked first to charity ratings services, such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator, but more preferred to take advice from people within their personal sphere, such as family members, friends or religious leaders.

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