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Women as Donors—Respecting and Tapping into Differences
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Although women have always been generous, only in the last couple of decades has it been recognized that women are often ignored in fundraising, and that women exhibit somewhat different behaviors than men when it comes to giving.  Equally significant is the fact that
because women are likely to outlive their husbands and inherit their wealth, in addition to gaining the inheritance from their parents, women are expected to eventually hold much of the US$41 trillion expected to pass from generation to generation over the next 50 years.
 
What is mildly different or even unique about women who give to their Churches and church campaigns, such as schools?  Women want to be able to connect their deeply held values to noticeable change.   Women do have unique methods of giving. The Six C’s: Women’s Motivations for Giving,[1]says female donors are apt to collaborate in supporting a cause, they wish to form partnerships with the people who are connected to the cause and they want to see creative solutions to problems. They are opposed to simply preserving the status quo through unrestricted support.
 
Is it surprising that women’s involvement in philanthropy is different than men’s?  No.  Since women have different ways of communicating with their peers and getting involved in their communities, it is only natural that their methods of philanthropy would be different from the traditional means.  A person doing fundraising, then, should approach female donors with opportunities to connect to a cause, to assemble with others and to get involved with more than just the pocketbook.  Especially younger women are looking for something different, including networking opportunities and ways of engaging thoughtfully, not just emotionally.
 
Points to keep in mind when approaching women as donors are:
Men tend to respond to needs and peer solicitation.  Women tend to give after involvement, including volunteering.
Women like entrepreneurial problem solving, and like flexibility and responsiveness to clues that change is needed.
Women like to collaborate and seek inclusiveness.
Women often make, or at least influence, giving decisions in the family.
 
Respect for differences is desirable.  Respect for gender differences in generosity is advisable.  And since women are the majority in the Adventist Church, it is a mutually beneficial practice for Church-related campaigns to consider preferences in philanthropic action.
 
A few years ago Lilya was director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute housed at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.
 
Dr. Lilya Wagner
Dr. Lilya Wagner, CFRE
Director
Philanthropic Service for Institutions
www.philanthropicservice.com
lilya.wagner@nad.adventist.org
 


[1] As referenced in The Transformative Power of Women’s Philanthropy: New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising by Martha A. Taylor and Sondra Shaw‑Hardy (Jossey‑Bass, 2006).