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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving > Donor Advised Funds

Women's Funds Lure More Engaged Donors

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Charitable giving in support of women’s and girls’ causes has become increasingly visible in recent years by donors in general and in particular by women’s funds and foundations, according to a new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.

Women’s funds and foundations — the report uses the terms interchangeably — give to grantmaking organizations specifically dedicated to women and girls. These organizations appear to attract a different, more deeply engaged type of donor, compared with what the report calls “general donors” whose giving to those causes is often part of a broader philanthropic portfolio.

Women’s fund donors give higher amounts to charity — $48,309 vs. $30,027 — and give to more charitable organizations — 19 vs. 14.

As well, they use different tools and strategies for giving. Specifically, they are likelier than general donors to give cash, have a budget for their giving to women’s and girls’ causes, have a charitable provision in their will, give stocks and give through a giving circle.

The WPI report was based on a proprietary survey fielded in mid-2018 to high-net-worth donors of some 20 women’s funds and foundations to which 187 responded, and to wealthy donors of a large national donor-advised fund to which 780 responded. The latter provided a sample of “general donors” to serve as a control group, since both groups include high-net-worth donors.

For purposes of the report, “high-net-worth” donors were defined as having an annual household income of at least $200,000, and/or net worth of at least $1 million, excluding the value of their primary home. Respondents answered questions about their giving, especially their giving to women’s and girls’ causes, during calendar year 2017.

The research, which was completed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that donors to women’s funds and foundations are likelier than general donors to be women — 93% vs. 40% — and LGBTQ individuals — 11.8% vs. 24%.

They were less likely to be retired and more inclined to give while still active in the workforce. The were also less likely to be religious.

They have also supported women’s and girls’ causes for a longer period of time.

Women’s fund donors are more likely than general donors to consider themselves philanthropic experts, philanthropic leaders and activist donors, and to associate the term “philanthropist” with positive attributes.

They were also motivated to give differently than general donors, for example, by serving on the board or volunteering for an organization, believing their gift can make a difference. They were less motivated than the general sample by a religious belief — 11.8% vs. 25.7% — or the prospect of a tax benefit — 11.2% vs. 22.8%.

The survey found that women’s fund donors were more satisfied and more focused on evaluating their giving. Asked about their satisfaction with their largest gift to women’s and girls’ causes, 56.8% said they were extremely satisfied, compared with 43.6% of general donors.

Women’s fund donors also evaluated their giving to women and girls differently. They were more likely than general donors to draw from their personal experiences and direct contact with the organizations to which they donated.

In contrast, general donors were significantly more likely than women’s fund donors to say they did not monitor or evaluate their giving.

Women’s fund donors were also more likely than general donors to take part in activities that might help them give more effectively, such as serving on a nonprofit board, attending conferences or workshops on philanthropy and joining a network of donors.

When asked about their giving to women and girls over the next five years, a great majority of both women’s fund and foundation donors and general donors said they would either continue to support these groups at the same level or increase their giving.

None of the women’s fund and foundation donors in the sample said they would end their giving to women and girls in the next five years.

— Check out How Women’s Foundations Use Their Money on ThinkAdvisor.


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