Women establish themselves as players in the philanthropy field

Published: Friday, Sept. 28 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

Women are also more interested in using technology, such as social networks and the Internet, to promote and establish giving circles, Shaw-Hardy said. The reasons for giving also differ between men and women, she said.

"Men have been much more interested in buildings and much more loyal to institutions than have women," she said. "Men give more because of who's asking them and then second is the cause. With women it's the opposite."

There are giving initiatives established specifically for women, such as the Tiffany Circle of the American Red Cross, which is a society of women who have pledged to give $10,000 or more to the Red Cross on an annual basis. This society allows women to network and establish connections relating to philanthropic values.

Research has found that women give a higher percentage of annual earnings than men, Zehner said, and that the Tiffany Circle doesn't have an equivalent for men.

"Women love to do things together and giving is no exception," Zehner said. "When women are part of a community of networks or philanthropic circles they give more and they enjoy it more."

The mGive Foundation is dedicated to using the latest advancements in technology to facilitate and promote giving. Jenifer Snyder, executive director of the foundation, said the use of mobile technology among women is significantly affecting the philanthropic sector. Her organization raised more than $41 million for Haiti relief efforts through its texting campaign, she said.

"Women consume social media more and text more than men, so it seemed like a natural fit to do text donation campaigns," she said. "It also allows women to move beyond physical giving groups into virtual groups, so it expands the scope of what giving can be."

She said many prominent women, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are vocal in their support of mobile giving campaigns and that the Haiti initiative would likely not have been possible without female support.

"The primary contacts that helped make our text-giving campaign possible were a group of women," she said. "Women have played a huge role in bringing mobile giving to fruition."

She noted other women who are having an impact, such as Alicia Keys, who raised $400,000 in a three-minute call-to-action using mobile technology.

"A lot of females are leading the charge and have had the foresight to include mobile technology in their campaigns, and they are seeing tremendous results," Snyder said.

Women Give 2012, a research report released by the Women's Philanthropy Institute, found that women of the baby boomer generation and older women are more likely to give to charity than their male counterparts.

Data on the change in percentage of women giving over the last few decades are not available, Zehner said, but the data are now being tracked due to anecdotal information and evidence about the increasing role of women in giving.

Impact on the sector

The influence of women in philanthropy will not just be evident in the United States, but globally, Shaw-Hardy said. Women around the world are recognizing their potential and expanding their influence, as well as promoting generosity and the shared use of resources, she said.

Zehner said charities and organizations are taking notice of women in the sector, and they are shifting strategies to accommodate women. There is also likely to be more couple giving, Shaw-Hardy said, with women being a large influence.

"Woman are commanding a lot of attention now by nonprofit groups that previously have not targeted women," Zehner said. "Organizations are actively finding ways to connect women together."

Shaw-Hardy said women add more compassion and thoughtfulness to giving and that they are truly interested in helping those in need.

"Women are much more willing to give globally," she said. "And instead of just putting a Band-Aid on something, women look to identify the cause."

She said women want to do more than just give money, but rather want to see a face associated with their cause. Overall, the external and internal perceptions of women in the sector have undergone a transformation.

"Women are now thinking of themselves as philanthropists," Shaw-Hardy said. "They have the confidence to give that they didn't have before."


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