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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

How Male and Female Business Owners Differ in Charitable Giving

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In a study last year, Fidelity Charitable found that eight in 10 entrepreneurs considered charitable giving a critical part of their identity, and nearly half called themselves philanthropists. Charitably inclined entrepreneurs in the study gave significantly more money to charity than non-entrepreneurs.

A supplement to that study, released Tuesday, focused a gender lens on how entrepreneurs with businesses of $1 million or more in revenue approach philanthropy.

It found that in contrast to male and female non-business owners who often differ in their attitudes and behaviors around charitable giving, entrepreneurs of both genders give similar amounts to charity and spend similar time volunteering.

This indicates, Fidelity Charitable said, that the attitudes and motivations that align with becoming a successful entrepreneur are more influential than gender in the way a person approaches philanthropy.

Even so, the study found nuances in male and female entrepreneurs’ motivation behind giving.

“The hands-on, results-driven mindset of entrepreneurs carries over to their charitable giving,” Fidelity Charitable’s president Pamela Norley said in a statement. “While men and women at large might have different ways of giving back, entrepreneurs of all genders tend to approach charitable giving and volunteering with similar generosity and personal involvement.”

The research found that male and female entrepreneurs tend to approach giving with different goals in mind. Fifty-four percent of men and 49% of women said they would like to leave money to charity after their death.

However, two-thirds of women mentioned a specific cause they wanted to support with their bequests, while only one-third of men were so motivated. Forty-four percent of men said they wanted to leave a legacy or make an impact, compared with only a quarter of women.

Both male and female entrepreneurs reported that they spent an average of seven hours each month volunteering. Here’s what they valued about volunteering:

  • Networking opportunity outside my company: men, 40%; women 35%
  • Helps build my brand or reputation: men, 39%; women, 28%
  • Learn new professional skills: men 36%; women 40%
  • Develops leadership skills: men 31%; women, 46%

Forty-three percent of women in the study said they were going to exit their business in the next five years, compared with 39% of men. However, women were significantly less likely to be aware of key strategies that could help them maximize their impact and charitable giving.

Seventy-nine percent of male entrepreneurs said they are aware of the strategy of donating private equity directly to charity in order to potentially eliminate capital gains tax, but only 60% of female entrepreneurs indicated awareness of the strategy.


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