Why Women Donors Are Likely More Valuable
If you’ve detected a trend in the last few years that shows women becoming more politically engaged, you’re not imagining things.
The 2018 election cycle saw new records for the number of women candidates for governor as well as both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And they’re not just running–they’re winning. The current crop of House members includes a record number of women “by a wide margin,” as Time magazine noted.
This activism goes well beyond political office–it extends to donor patterns as well. An analysis by Nonprofit Quarterly found that women’s political engagement has surged in the last two years, including donations. This has major implications for charities that provide basic human needs.
Research by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found a direct link between income levels and how donors spend on charitable giving. No surprise there. What may be surprising is the respective donation patterns of men vs. women. As the Nonprofit Times explains, men are more likely to give to organization-focused charities–think schools and societies, religious organizations, or youth-focused endeavors. However, “When the woman’s income increases, the couple is more likely to give — and give a larger amount — to charities that provide basic human needs, such as the Salvation Army, American Red Cross or a homeless shelter.”
Women also are more likely to give from their heart, meaning they are more likely to be motivated by current events or major trend shifts, such as an election result.
The research backing this was done in 2015–before the recent overall surge in women’s activism. Combining the established tendencies with the current political environment, and it’s not a stretch to say that women are having greater influence than ever over charitable giving and overall political activism.
New research from the Lilly School concludes that adult daughters are more likely to be influenced by the charitable giving of their parents than adult sons. While this underscores the idea that women have increasing influence, it also highlights a general need to bridge the gap between parents and sons.
“If giving is to increase to continue to address the pressing challenges of today’s society, then society in turn must find ways to ensure that these values are passed on to both sons and daughters,” the report says.
As a nonprofit executive who relies on donors to drive your organization, what should your takeaways be?
First, understand that men and women are different, even if all other demographics–income, place of residence, education, etc.–are exactly the same.
Also recognize that while both genders show tendencies to form established donation patters based on their experiences and values, women are more likely to shift theirs and get more involved based on current events.
You should always tailor your campaigns so they appeal to subsets of donors based on income, location, age, etc.
If you’re not already targeting men and women differently, too, consider doing so.