• January 29, 2015

Most Women Give More Than Men, New Study Finds

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Women at every income level give to charity more often than men do—and they tend to donate more money on average than their male counterparts, according to a study released Thursday.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, analyzed charitable-giving data from 8,000 American households.

“The conventional wisdom is that women do not give a lot of money,” said Debra J. Mesch, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, who also served as the new study’s lead researcher. “This study shows that this is just not true.”

Income Levels

Because previous studies on gender and charitable giving have included married couples—making it hard to tease out the effects of either sex on giving patterns—Ms. Mesch’s research excluded couples. Instead, it assessed giving by households headed by a single man or woman. The study compared men and women who were similar in terms of income, age, education, and number of children, since such characteristics often affect how much people give.

Looking at every income level, she found that women give to charity more frequently than men in similar circumstances. Giving by men and women is closest at the lowest income level, $23,509 or less. But more than one-third of women making less than that sum (35.2 percent) were still more likely to give to charity than men earning the same amount (27.5 percent).

Those gender differences are more pronounced among people making more money, the study found. For example, all but 4 percent of women who made more than $103,000 gave to charity, while only three-fourths of men who made that much did.

What’s more, at almost every income level, the amount women gave exceeded that of men in comparable circumstances. For example, women who earn $23,509 or less gave an average of $540 per year to charity, while men in that income bracket with similar life circumstances (such as education and number of children) gave $281. Women who earn more than $103,000 annually gave $1,910 to charity, while their male counterparts gave $984.

Men’s giving did outstrip women’s in one group, those who earn $23,510 to $43,499: Men earning that much gave an average of $1,033 to charity, 32 percent more than women, who gave only $701.

Ms. Mesch said that she was not sure why men in one income group gave more, but she plans to investigate that in a future study.

A Lesson for Fund Raisers

The study also found that, among single households in the study, men who were widowed gave more on average to charity ($1,820) than women whose husbands had died ($928). But never-married ($783) and divorced or separated women ($641) gave more than never-married males ($498) or divorced or separated men ($483).

While men gave more in a few instances, Ms. Mesch said, she was surprised by “the consistency across income levels.”

For fund raisers, she said, the study shows that “if you do not pay attention to women, you will lose out on a huge audience. This trend will continue as women continue to gain income, education, and wealth. Women also outlive men, so you really have to pay attention to women as donors.”


1. davidhimes - October 21, 2010 at 02:34 pm

There's nothing new about this study. It's been true in every study on this subject I've ever seen.

What has changed is that there are now more women in the high income categories who give independently of men.

Regardless, it's a good reminder, especially for people who are new to the industry

2. marypat - October 21, 2010 at 11:29 pm

You have a point that this may not be new to some however many even with years of experience have not used this information or ignore the potential of women to give. Persons interested in women's philanthropy should additionally look at the just published book by two of the earliest founders of the women's philanthropy movement. Martha Taylar and Sondra Shaw-Hardy recently published Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World.
Mary in Madison, WI

3. mlinnovations - October 23, 2010 at 05:45 pm

The new study reveals that women are more likely to donate to charity than men and their giving is more likely to be more generous. For many development professionals, this will not come as much of a surprise. However, it is always good to be reminded of the generosity of women. Here are some other interesting factoids about women and philanthropy. Margaret May Damen, author of "Women, Wealth, and Giving," says, "Women make 84 percent of all philanthropic decisions." In my new book, "Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing," I also cite a study by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund that states, "High-income women (those with an annual household income of $150,000 or more) demonstrate a high level of sophistication in their giving by seeking expert advice and then making use of innovative giving vehicles such as donor-advised funds and charitable remainder trusts." In 2008, 7 percent of high-income women made charitable gifts using securities while only 3 percent of high-income men did so. Among high-income women, 16 percent have or use a donor-advised fund, charitable remainder trust, or private foundation while only 10 percent of high income men do so. Clearly, women are an important demographic group. And, the importance of women to philanthropy will only increase as the economic power of women continues to grow. (http://mlinnovations.com/books)(http://twitter.com/mlinnovations)

4. mmdamen0924 - October 24, 2010 at 06:55 pm

Perhaps the most relevant message from this research is moving to the next step to find the answer to the questions-"Is a woman's VOICE being heard at the table where dscisions are being made about philanthropic giving. Who has the Leadership and Stewardship of the money being given?" It is fine to confirm that women are giving more, but that leaves unanswered the question - Are women at the table where the major policy decisions are being made. Until women are not only at the table, but also an equal player on the decision making team will women's giving have the power to give voice to their values. In my book "Women, Wealth and Giving: The Virtuos Legacy of the Boom Generation" I give a road map for women to achieve parity of Voice at the table and leverage their newly identified giving power. (http://instituteforwomenandwealth.org)http://margaet-may.com)

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