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Skagit Valley Hospital

Women, Images, and Raising Funds



Women CEO Google search screenshot

I love Google Images.

It has helped me punch up many a PowerPoint presentation with an eclectic compilation of photographs and drawings.

Recently it provided me with an unexpected illumination. I typed “CEO” in the search function and out came a veritable sea of male faces grinning at me.

Then I typed in “women CEO,” and my computer screen was populated with a sea of female faces grinning at me.  Apparently there is no shortage of CEOs of either gender, but the Google Images folks equate a generic CEO with being male.

As I began climbing my high horse of righteous indignation, I thought, is my brain wired all that differently than Google Images’ when it comes to my own images? Do we fundraisers (regardless of our own gender) fall into that same image trap; i.e., gravitate toward the male of the species, even if he is part of a male-female duo, assuming he is the philanthropic power broker? I cringe when I recall the times in my career when I’ve done exactly that.

All of these questions make the recent study of high net-worth women’s philanthropy more pertinent than ever. Researched by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and sponsored by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, here are just two of the findings that caused me to stand and cheer:

  • The number of working women with a college degree has gone from 11 percent in 1970 to 36 percent in 2008
  • Working women who earn more than their working husbands has skyrocketed from eight percent in 1970 to 26 percent today

We know what this means to the nonprofit sector: more educated women with passions, opinions, and the means to write a check, either singly, as a part of a couple, or in a funding collective. Given the above statistics, our friends in higher education should take particular note given the majority of women graduates nationwide, as should those working in retirement communities where women are the majority of residents. They may be considering how to allocate their estate: are you working with them on a planned gift?

Ignore or disregard female donors at your peril; not only are they are the future – they’re the present!

To learn more, click here for the full report.


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About the Author

James Plourde

James Plourde CFRE

Senior Consultant

James is always willing to ask the needed questions, helping his clients clarify their path and giving them the confidence to proceed.


One Response

  1. Mandi Moshay says:

    Great post. Leave it to the tech dork to note that it’s not entirely Google’s fault that your search result turned out the way it did. I believe the tags, captions, and alt text associated with those images are what led to the unsettling collection of male faces as a result of the “CEO” search term. I guess that just speaks to an even more troubling societal schema of what a CEO looks like.

    I’d like to shout an overarching “Get it, ladies!” in regards to the great strides women have made in terms of education and compensation. It’s so nice to see women getting better representation at the philanthropy table!


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