March is always an interesting month – International Women’s Day and now Research Pride Month. It also happens to be the height of snowbird season in Florida where I live. The snowbirds arrive in full force in January and by March are facing the end of their extended vacation. As a condo-dweller, our recreation committee swings into high gear during this time and I partake in BUNCO, a dice game attended only by the women. We wouldn’t turn away a man, but they take off on those nights in search of the best happy hour deals and the cheapest eats on the beach.
We self-segregate because the snowbirds in my condo buildings came of age when a man couldn’t imagine attending a baby shower and a woman ruled the domestic space. This kind of segregation is almost incomprehensible to my daughter. In her world men and women plan the wedding together and they both attend their friends’ baby showers. Have we reached the age of inclusion?
Consider the world of prospect research. We use algorithms to find and match quantifiable assets to individuals and statistical modeling to predict likelihood to give. We deal in math and numbers. And math and numbers don’t lie. Or do they?
As Preeti Gill shared in her coming-of-awareness story, “What About Women?“, sometimes it’s not about what you find, but what you are not finding that matters. And in fundraising there are a lot of women and other minorities who are not being found, or when they are found, not being pursued because the right “numbers” are not found.
We know from Forbes Billionaires List that 75% of wealthy women did not earn the wealth they own or control. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have it. It does mean that as your prospect research professional I probably won’t be able to point to as many of those comfortable numbers you know and love – publicly held assets in her name.
We know that women prefer to volunteer and investigate organizations before making a significant investment. But that often means you will see many small gifts in one year adding up to a substantial sum or unlisted volunteer roles. And that means it’s likely that as a prospect research professional I won’t be able to point to the one BIG gift or the nonprofit board roles you cherish as such great indicators of wealth and inclination.
Prior to hearing from Preeti Gill I absolutely demonstrated bias in assessing wealthy women’s ability and inclination (and likely any other minority I’ve researched). The irony is not lost on me that just as I lament that so many women still feel pressure to perform a full-time career simultaneous with performing full-time domestic duties, I am biased against wealthy women. Me! A prospect research woman.
Yes, men and women attend baby showers together now, but primary parental and domestic duties still fall unevenly on women in most households. Yes, women have accumulated remarkable wealth, but fundraising is still struggling to update its “categories” or “mental shortcuts” that have worked so well in the past. And although information technology has improved our ability to do so many things, it inevitably incorporates the conscious and unconscious biases of its creators.
How exciting is it then that fundraising and prospect research is dominated by women? We are in the perfect position to openly examine potential bias and deliberately develop methods to counter it. We can write a different story, choosing different words and different numbers to represent different constituents – all of them hot prospects!
No matter what your particular fundraising role is, take the time to share a little research pride. Ask your researcher what s/he does or share how prospect research has impacted you. If you are a prospect research professional, share the research contributions you have the most pride in. Be a part of the conversation on social media, too. Make your posts with the hashtag: #ResearchPride.
I and a whole bunch of other researchers will be looking for your stories!
The APRA International Prospect Development conference is about to begin with the Analytics Symposium, Researcher’s Boot Camp and pre-conference workshops starting tomorrow.
And WHEW! is it ever hot out! (this coming from a Floridian who loves summer)
I’ve been reading hints on Twitter about the cool (and cooling) swag the APRA chapters have on offer at the chapters table. I will be scooping up my conference treasure, but I have some conference doubloons of my own! Check out the photo for a picture of the pins I have to give away – but only to those who can catch me and ask about #gogirlresearch!
In just two decades there have been huge shifts in how women and men earn and give away their money. As responsible financial stewards, fundraisers need to be sure that their efforts reflect the needs of women as well as men. This post analyzes and highlights information primarily from a new study of high net worth women from The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Heck, I might just convince you to make it easy for women to give to you by creating a women-only giving group!
I say that in *just* two decades there have been huge shifts, because twenty years is a relatively short period of time. From the time I started working in 1988 until now a tsunami of changes have transformed how women are treated at university and at work. My first boss, who had porn tapes delivered to the office and carried around a loaded gun, would be considered an anachronism today – and a dangerous one! And that was only twenty-three years ago.
Because such dramatic change has occurred in such a short amount of time, many of us fundraisers may still be clinging to outdated myths about women’s giving potential. These myths could cost your organization, but worse, they could cost the people who rely upon your organization to serve them.
*Women are Earning More Money* You probably know this, but remember that women did not enter the workforce in significant numbers until about forty years ago in the 1970s. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011), women were 40% of the labor force in the 1970s and are now at about 60%. But how do those numbers translate into earning power?
The Pew Research Center published a study in 2010 that may surprise you. It demonstrated that the percentage of working women earning more than their working husbands has grown from 8% to 26% in the past two decades. A quarter of working women in a two income household are the primary breadwinner. Nice. And that is in the face of the fact that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010), women earn about 80% of what men earn.
But the real eye-popping news is that in nearly 90% of high net worth individuals surveyed in a study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University (2011), women are either the sole decision-maker or at least an equal partner in charitable decision-making. In non-research language that translates to: women decide how to give away the household dollars. How’s that for a myth-buster? Ignore women at your peril!
*Women are (Finally) Leveraging Networks* When I was in Prague in 2009 I was invited to a lunch by another business woman. What I found was a long-standing network of women who encourage and help build each other’s success in what can still be a hostile environment for women. These women were the movers and shakers, creating new institutions and fantastic business success. It was women helping women. I have not found this kind of tight-knit camaraderie here in the U.S. But I know it exists as can be attested to by the rise of women’s giving networks.
What I find so interesting about their choice to use The Tiffany Circle of the American Red Cross is that this giving network was created by the American Red Cross. In the past I have read numerous articles about women creating their own giving circles, but clearly some nonprofits have seen the “dollars written on the wall” and proactively created environments where women can thrive in philanthropy. Yes, you can do this too!
*What do Women in Giving Networks Expect Most?* Before we go into what The Center on Philanthropy found out when questioning these high net worth networked givers (try saying that quickly!), I feel it is very important to note that in their 2010 study they discovered that 60.2% of women and 55.7% of men gave for general operating support. Really, really. In fact, only 15.9% of men and 10.8% of women were likely to donate for capital, construction or equipment. So it’s safe to say that at least HALF of high net worth donors will give general operating dollars. That’s HUGE! Living up to their expectations now takes on a whole new level of importance, doesn’t it?
The Center on Philanthropy found gender differences in these top indicators of donor expectations:
W=women M=men WIN=women in a network
Honor request for use of gift: W-80.4% M-68.4% WIN-89.3%
Send thank you note: W-60.4% M-52.1% WIN-66.1%
Communicate the impact of the gift: W-45.3 M-26.4% WIN-55.6%
Provide ongoing communication: W-45.1% M-34.5% WIN-49.6
Notice that men differ dramatically in two of these expectations (underlined for emphasis) and that women in a network have higher expectations for these items across the board. If you are going to create a woman’s giving network at your nonprofit, these are key items to take note of as you plan how to communicate with your new group.
*What Motivates Women in Giving Networks to Give* We know from the Center on Philanthropy’s 2010 study that the more high net worth donors volunteered, the more they gave. However, personal experiences with an organization are more important to women. In the world of statistics this number is a big one: 90.8% of The Tiffany Circle women reported that they volunteered.
The study doesn’t attempt to find causes for this behavior, but it is reassuring to hear that women are more likely to have confidence in the ability of nonprofits to solve domestic or global problems (50.4% of women vs. 33.8% of men).
The Center on Philanthropy found gender differences in these top indicators of donor motivations:
W=women M=men WIN=women in a network
Moved at how gift can make a difference*: W-81.7% M-70.9% WIN-86.9%
Can give back to the community: W-78.2% M-63.3% WIN-87%
When a nonprofit is efficient in its use of donations: W-80.5% M-69.2% WIN-86%
Volunteer at an organization: W-65.7 M-49.8% WIN-73.1%
(*This was THE top motivator for men and women. Yes, we all know this, but validation from a study feels good too.)
Here we notice that men differ dramatically in one of these expectations (underlined for emphasis) and that again women in a network are more motivated by these items across the board. If you are going to create a woman’s giving network at your nonprofit, all of the above motivators should be emphasized.
Remember to bury those entrenched donor myths! Yes, these donors are motivated when you demonstrate efficient use of funds. And YES, they will give to general operating too. This study says at least half will. Make a strong case for general operating and they will give.
*Why do Women in Giving Networks STOP Giving?* The top reason for women and men to stop giving is because they were solicited too frequently or were asked for an inappropriate amount. The big news? It’s not as important to women as it is to men. Only 49.3% of women cite this reason, but 61.2% of men do.
This is where I get to emphasize how important it is to methodically approach your annual fund appeals and test to discover the right message and the right number of appeals. And if you are going to ask one of your close donor friends to step up and make a stretch gift, it is only respectful to get an in-depth, researched donor profile. Nearly half of your women donors and more than half of your male donors are offended when you don’t care enough to do your homework before asking for a gift.
*Summing it All Up* More women are working, more of these women are earning more, and women are organizing together to give. The big myth busters?
A quarter of working women in a two income household are the primary breadwinner.
Women are either the sole or equal decision maker on how to give away household dollars.
At least HALF of high net worth donors (female and male) will give general operating dollars.
Key takeaways from the Center on Philanthropy study:
Honoring your donor’s request for use of a gift is important for women and men, but much more important for women.
Women and men are most likely to be moved by how a gift can make a difference, but it is more important for women.
Volunteering and other personal experiences of a nonprofit are more important to women than men.
Nearly half of your women donors and more than half of your male donors are offended when you don’t care enough to do your homework before asking for a gift. Asking for an inappropriate size gift could cost you a donor.
Women are steadily becoming a financial force to be reckoned with and even more than men they like to be strategic and collaborative in their giving. Providing women with a way to organize their giving to you that recognizes their needs and preferences will help your organization gain access to this growing population of high net worth individuals. Don’t the people you serve deserve this?
*About Aspire Research Group* Aspire Research Group was founded so that every development office could have the benefits of professional prospect research. We analyze donor databases to help fundraisers understand their donors better, create systems to help them reach major gift and campaign goals, and provide comprehensive profiles to empower fundraisers to qualify and ask donors for the “right” gift. We use our direct fundraising experience to craft research solutions that answer the questions that lead to more and higher gifts, guiding fundraisers comfortably every step of the way. Contact us for more information or visit us at www.AspireResearchGroup.com
*About the Study* The 2011 Study of High Net Worth Women’s Philanthropy and the Impact of Women’s Giving Networks was written and researched by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It can be accessed online here: