Ask Women to Give in a Big Way

Historically, fundraisers have neglected women when it comes time to ask for major gifts. They are often lulled into accepting the stereotypes of women that they lack capacity, control and knowledge of money.  To quote Julia Roberts’ character in the 1990 film Pretty Woman, “Big mistake.  Big, big mistake.”

According to the analysis of data from a 2007 Center on Philanthropy study. Women gave more often than men and spread out their giving to different charities, and they also give more in total dollars.

Some organizations are catching on to the power of women as donors.  For 20 years, World Vision has had a female-only donor group called Women of Vision. In the 2010 fiscal year, about 3,000 members of the group donated a total of $7 million to World Vision, with an average gift of $2,000.  The American Red Cross also has targeted women for bigger gifts throughout its history, but added a donor group just for women in 2005.

There is a large amount of research that examines the differences in women’s behavior, thought processes and decision making.  Studies indicate, for instance, that women are relationship oriented, whereas men tend to be action oriented. Women readily understand that successful fundraising is dependent upon personal connection. Donors, especially women, give because they are asked by someone significant to them.

Although the following chart applies to both genders, the 6 Cs of Women’s Giving chart below further outlines what generally motivates women to give:

Create Women like to fund new projects. The first American women philanthropists created hospitals and educational institutions.
Change Women are interested in projects and programs that address new approaches to an old problems.
Connect Women want to be involved with the program or project they fund. They want to participate in the decision making.  They want to know about progress.
Collaborate Since women are relational, they are happiest when they can work with others to make something happen.  Many are not motivated by competition.
Commit Women want to give not only their money, but also their time.  Women have been socialized to volunteer for causes they support.
Celebrate The tradition of women as fundraisers through events is long-lived.  Women want everyone to know about their favorite charity, not so much from a recognition stand point, but because an event promotes a visible acknowledgment of the success of the organization.

So if you are a fundraiser for your organization…whether a man or a woman…don’t’ make a big mistake and be seduced by outdated protocols.  Give equal cultivation and major gift solicitation focus to both men and women.

Learn more about the habits of women donors at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute

Posted by Sharon Rabb, Project Specialist