Surprises and Opportunities with Female Donors

Most non-profits have a known group of donors who they can count on to loyally support their mission, engage as volunteers, and come back year after year with generous gifts. It’s easy to become familiar with your donors; you learn what works for direct mail appeals, the programs that garner the most support, and the community events that spark the most interest. However, these consistencies may not be as specific to the donors of a particular organization as we may think. If we look at donors from a demographic standpoint, the giving habits and patterns would likely be consistent with those of their peers.

One peer group that is worth noting and paying close attention to are women. Here are some insights we found to be quite striking:


Women Give, and they Give Generously

Results of the 2010 Women Give Report conducted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University showed that single women are more likely to give to charity, and give at higher levels, than single men of the same income levels.  Women who have never been married are nearly 10% more likely to give than never married men, and they are likely to give 57% more.

Is your donor base comprised heavily of married couples? It might be worth taking the time to cultivate relationships with some single women! As marriage continues to become a less dominate lifestyle in the US, your female donors may become a tremendous asset as you continue grow and develop your donor prospects.


Boomer Women

One specific segment of women to watch are those who comprise the Baby Boomers. With roughly 76 million individuals, the Baby Boomer generation is the largest in America today. Their ideals, behaviors, and attitudes towards saving and spending have a tremendous impact on the economy. Their philanthropic habits are also important to watch, as Boomers hold a significant amount of wealth in the US.

By 2030, it is estimated that Boomer women will account for 54 percent of their generation.[1] And, women over the age of 50 control a net worth of $19 trillion and own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial worth.[2] That’s a whole lot of Boomer ladies who control a whole lot of money who could be contributing generously to your organization.

Boomer women were also the force behind the major shifts in traditional gender roles, and they reshaped the landscape of opportunities for education, employment, and wages for women. Not surprisingly, these Boomer women also have had an impact on how women give philanthropically.  The first women’s fund was created in the early 1970’s, and many public foundations have been created since.

These women are movers and shakers, and they have the potential to be powerful advocates for your organization.


What This Means For Events

We know that fundraising events serve many purposes for our clients, but one major factor is to provide an opportunity to network with a group of new donors. When thinking about your next event, it could be helpful to look at your female donors in a new light.

If you consider women’s propensity to give to causes they feel connected to and their ability to influence community and social networks, they are the perfect candidates to bring to your next event.

Working to build relationships with female donors is a worthwhile investment of time, and your next event could be the perfect place to start. Consider gearing some element of your next fundraising gala towards the women who walk in the door, and see where the effort brings you.



[1] Damen, M.M. and McCuistion, N.N. 2010. Women, Wealth & Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation. John Wiley & Sons Inc.: Hoboken, New Jersey.

[2] MassMutual Financial Group 2007.