By Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, JD, CTFA
Our last installment in June about Giving USA 2017 was a positive reflection on the continued and growing generosity of American philanthropy as reflected in the report of giving shown in 2017 federal tax return data. Is there any difference between American males and females in their giving? Several studies and reports provide the answer: Women give more.
Sources* indicate that 64% of donations are from women, while 36% are from men, and that women-led households give more at all income levels. In fact, for each additional $10,000 of income, women on average give 5% more than lower earners while men give 3% more.
Why might this greater level of generosity be? Women tend to suffer from economic insecurity at higher rates than men, so it would seem they have less to give. However, studies cite women as socialized to be caregivers, having more compassion because they experience motions more strongly, use philanthropy as a means of expressing their morals and beliefs and may use philanthropy as a means of egalitarianism.
Add to that a desire to develop and pass values on to the next generation, a tendency to support organizations where they have volunteered, and a desire to effect change and have meaningful impact and you have a recipe for philanthropic support for women engaged as volunteers, teaching their children about giving back or wanting to have a positive impact on society, even if they have less to give. But do they? Do women have resources to make a meaningful impact? It would seem that they do.
As it happens, 90% of high net-worth women are the sole or co-decision makers on charitable decisions. By 2030, women will control two-thirds of the wealth in the United States. Women 65 and older already control more than half of that wealth; they have earned their wealth, or inherited it from family and/or husbands whom they have outlived. In fact, 45% of millionaires in the U.S. are women, and almost half of all estates of more than $5 million are controlled by women.
One particularly notable Maine woman has had an enormous philanthropic impact on Maine: Elizabeth “Betty” Noyce. Divorced from a founder of Intel, when her estate was administered following her death in the late 90s it put Maine at the top of the 50 states with largest amount of charitable gifts through an estate for that year. Most years before and since, Maine is closer to – if not at – the bottom of the states in charitable gifts through estates.
However, in the 20 years since her death, and even during her later years through her investments in community and establishment of the Libra Foundation, she has likely had a greater impact than any other individual philanthropist in improving the lives of Mainers during that time.
One study recognized that women are moved by how their gift can make a difference, and want to know organizations are efficient in their use of donations. Organizations are well-advised to communicate impact, as well as prudent management, in their appeals to women donors.
Maine and the United States as a whole have much to be proud of in terms of their charitable support, but women lead the way now, and likely into the future.
Women Give More
Women Putting their money where their values are
Women Give 2017: Charitable Giving and Life Satisfaction: Does Gender Matter?