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Skagit Valley Hospital

Don’t Overlook the Women



This is counsel I always provide to my clients.  Too often when crafting donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies, nonprofits focus on the husband, brother, uncle, or father.  When the wife, sister, aunt, or mother is considered, it is usually as a secondary player or one who can “work behind the scenes” to help forward a gift.

Despite what our on-the-ground experience and common sense as fundraisers may tell us, to-date there has been little if any published research documenting gender differences in philanthropy.  A new report published by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University last month confirms that, once factors such as income and education are controlled for, women are not only more likely to give to charity than men, they’re likely to give more when they do.  This holds true across all income levels but one.

As fundraisers, we are well aware that women live longer than men, and I would wager that every one of us has worked not only with women philanthropists, but couples for whom the woman’s perspective drives charitable decisions. In all-female colleges, of which I am a graduate, there is a keen sensibility that women will likely outlive their male partners by years if not decades, inheriting—and likely controlling—all of the assets accrued during their marriage(s).  By virtue of their longer life spans and growing earning power, women also accumulate their own assets as well as inheriting and controlling wealth from extended family members (grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, cousins, siblings, and sometimes daughters and sons).

Think about it.  A constituency that makes up at least half the population in younger cohorts—and increases to well over half in older cohorts.  A constituency more inclined to give, and to give more at virtually every income level.  A constituency whose educational level and earning power increases each decade.  Sounds like a fundraiser’s dream to me.


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About the Author

Kristin Barsness CFRE

Vice President

With a researcher’s eye for the important details, Kristin understands the intricacies of building strong donor relationships to meet your fundraising goals.


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