Giving is what women do, of course.
We nurture kids and relatives. We drop everything for friends in need. We form neighborhood associations, join walkathons, sit on school boards and give to clothing drives. Often as not, we also write charitable checks.
So what’s this all about?
Something of a revolution, really. Increasingly, women are contributing time, talent, treasure and technology at levels that move well beyond family and community. More and more women are taking center stage and asking, “What can we do?”
In the process, women are changing the face of philanthropy.They’re infusing new excitement, accountability and serious money into charitable goals and plans
They’re also learning how to collaborate and leverage their efforts in order to have greater impact. Women now require a higher level of stimulation and satisfaction than they once got from volunteering or organizing a charity event. They’re reading P&L sheets. They’re working to make the world a better place.
If you think of society as a three-legged stool supported by the business, government and nonprofit sectors, then women have gone a long way in redefining their roles in the first two. It’s now the turn of the so-called third sector.
How did we get here?
First, across the country, the extraordinary growth in women’s wealth, professional skills, confidence and financial decision-making has been rewriting rules about money and power. Women control a staggering 48% of estates worth more than $5 million and will soon direct 60% of the nation’s wealth. In addition, women have become comfortable with their rights of ownership, in business, in power, in leadership. This tilt toward women-directed wealth is propelling women’s involvement in philanthropy.
With deepening experience and resources, women are increasingly choosing a larger, more strategic stage. Women want their money to be working for change. They’re exploring different philanthropic structures, such as impact investing. They’re defining focus and figuring out what they can give that won’t deplete their longer-term growth or potential assets.
Paralleling women’s focus on philanthropy is the unprecedented rise of women-owned businesses, which are growing twice as fast as all other privately held companies in the country. A whopping 68% of women owners volunteer at least once a month, often in leadership roles. Nine out of ten women business owners (92%) contribute money to charities, compared to 88% of male owners and roughly 70% of U.S. households. Such changes have also led foundations and nonprofit institutions to launch woman-oriented fundraising efforts and to recruit women for their boards and staff.
From Maine to Miami to Malibu, women of all ages, colors and stations are developing giving plans and, typically, also contributing hands-on help. Their charitable work has come a long way from baking cakes and organizing church picnics. It’s all about funding social change.
Unlike the spontaneous impulse toward charity, the work of philanthropy does require some homework, but it is also consistently joyful and empowering. Go ahead. Take the leap. Give a little. There’s no doubt that, in return, you will get a lot.