Research tracks gender differences in giving

Differences in income among women and men shape overall giving by couples, as well as the causes they support, new research says.

An increase in a man’s income, for example, tends to make it more likely a couple will give to religious, youth, international and combined-purpose groups such as United Way, or give larger amounts to those causes, or both, says research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

An increase in a woman’s income makes it more likely a couple will give, and give a larger amount, to charities that provide for basic human needs, the research says.

The research, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, included a review of interdisciplinary literature on women’s giving and philanthropic behavior.

It also included analysis of data from the Philanthropy Panel Study, Bank of America/U.S. Trust Studies of High Net Worth Philanthropy, and Million Dollar List. Among the findings:

Marital status

* Single women are more likely than single men to give, and to give higher dollar amounts.

* Women who are divorced, separated, never married or widowed are more likely to give and to give higher dollar amounts than their male counterparts and among men overall.

* Single women are more likely than single men to give to nearly every charitable sector, except sports and recreation.

* Married couples tend to give more than single households headed by males or females.

* When men marry, they are more likely to give to charity and to give higher amounts.

Charitable decision-making

* Most married couples decide on charitable giving jointly.

* Households in which the male makes decisions on charitable giving make larger donations than couples in which those decisions are made by the female or jointly.

* For couples with one person making decisions on giving, the decision-making spouse is likely to have had more education, while in couples that make those decisions together, both individuals have high educational attainment.

Volunteering and giving circles

* Women are more likely than men to volunteer, and to volunteer more hours, with single women volunteering at nearly twice the rate of single men.

* Women represent the vast majority of participants in giving circles, more than half of giving circles in the U.S. involve only women, and issues that affect women and girls are the priority for many giving circles.

* Less than 10 percent of all foundation funding supports organizations run by and for women and girls.

Selecting charitable causes

* Women tend to spread their giving across more organizations, while men tend to concentrate their giving.

* Among high net worth individuals — those with $250,000 or more in income, or $1 million or more in assets not including their principal residence, or both — single women are more likely than single men to give, and give more to arts and the environment, while high net worth single men are more likely to give, and give more to combination organizations such as United Way.

* “Female-deciding” households are more likely to give to youth and family, health and international causes, while “male-deciding” households are more likely to give to religion, education and other causes.

* High net worth female-deciding households are more likely to give to youth and family services and religious causes, while male-deciding households are less likely to give to basic-needs organizations, and give lower amounts to those organizations.

* Single women spread out their giving more than do single men, although high net worth single women and men are similar in the concentration of their giving.

* Single women are more likely than single men to make women’s rights a priority, and less likely to make the economy and veterans’ issues a priority.

* Compared to couples that are “joint deciders,” a couple with the husband as sole decider is more likely to make the arts a priority as a social issue, while a couple with the wife as sole decider is more likely to make animal welfare a priority and less likely to make veterans’ issues a priority.

* Compared to joint deciders, a high net worth couple with the husband as sole decider is more likely to make the economy a key issue and less likely to make poverty a key issue, while a couple with the wife as sole decider is more likely to make human rights a priority.

Motivations for giving

* Single women are more likely than single men to cite their political or philosophical beliefs, and serving on a board or volunteering, as motivations for giving.

* In couples with the wife as sole decision-maker on giving, the household is more likely than joint-deciders to be motivated to give by spontaneously responding to a need, believing their gift makes a difference, and as a result of their political and philosophical beliefs, and less likely to be motivated by religious beliefs.

* In couples with the husband as sole decision-maker on giving, the household is less likely than joint-deciders to be motivated to give by setting an example for future generations, religious beliefs and the personal satisfaction of giving.

* For million-dollar donors’ gifts, individual women tend to mention “scholarship and “student” more than men do, reflecting a focus on the people their philanthropy can affect.

* Women are the only type of donor to have the term “unrestricted” appear in their top keywords.

* As women’s income rises, they become more likely than their male counterparts to give to charity.

Giving to secular and religious causes

* For the top 60 percent of income earners, women are more likely than their male counterparts to give to secular causes, and to give more.

* Millennial, Boomer and older women are more likely than their male counterparts to give in general and to secular causes.

* High net worth single women and single men do not differ significantly in their incidence of giving or the amount they give, either in total giving or in giving to religious or secular causes.

* A married person is more likely to give and to give more than a person who is not married.

* Single females are most likely to give to secular causes, and give more than do single men, married men and married women.

* Among high net worth households, being married does not increase the likelihood of giving, although married couples tend to give higher amounts overall and to secular causes than do single men and women.

* For giving to religious causes, households in which the husband is the sole decision-maker on giving are most likely to give.

* Compared to joint deciders, households in which the wife is the sole decision-maker on giving, and those with separate deciders, give less to to religious causes.

* Female-deciding households and and joint-deciding households are more likely to give to secular causes.

* Compared to joint-deciding households, only households in which men and women make giving decisions separately are statistically more likely to give higher amounts to secular causes.

* When either a wife or husband is a sole decision-maker, the amount of giving for religious purposes is lower than in jointly-deciding households.

Donors’ income and education levels

* A households in which the husband has unearned income from trusts or investments is significantly more likely to give to charity, while a household in which the wife has unearned income has no significant impact on whether the household will give to charity.

* An increase in men’s income tends to increase the likelihood and amount of giving to nearly every charitable subsector, while an increase in women’s income tends to increase the likelihood of giving to education, the environment, and organizations that address basic needs.

* The respective income of a husband or wife does not affect whether high income households give.

* The income of a high net worth husband is related to the amount of giving from the household, both overall and to secular giving.

* Education within a household generally does not affect the incidence or amount of giving for either the general population or high net worth households.

Todd Cohen

Giving hits record-high $358 billion

Charitable giving in the U.S. grew to $358.38 billion in 2014, marking the fifth straight year of growth and exceeding its peak in 2007 before the economy collapsed, a new report says.

Individuals, corporations, foundations and bequests all gave more, says Giving USA 2015, a report from the Giving USA Foundation and researched and written by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Total giving grew 7.1 percent in current dollars and 5.4 percent adjusted for inflation from the revised estimate of $339.94 billion in 2013.

Giving to religion, education, human services, and health reached record highs when adjusted for inflation, as did giving to arts, culture and humanities, and to the environment and animals.

Giving to foundations, public-society benefit organizations, and international affairs has not returned to or exceeded peak levels.

Who gives

Individuals gave $258.51 billion, up 5.7 percent in current dollars, or 4 percent adjusted for inflation, accounting for 72 percent of all giving.

Foundations gave $53.97 billion, up 8.2 percent, or 6.5 percent adjusted, accounting for 19 percent of all giving.

Bequests gave $28.13 billion, up 15.5 percent, or 13.6 percent adjusted, accounting 8 percent of all giving.

Corporations gave $17.77 billion, up 13.7 percent, or 11.9 percent adjusted, accounting for 5 percent of all giving.

Individual giving

The 5.7 percent increase in giving by individuals represented 58 percent of the increase in all giving.

Including giving by bequests and family foundations, individuals accounted for nearly 90 percent of all giving.

Itemized giving grew six percent and accounted for 83 percent of the total estimate for giving by individuals, while giving by non-itemizing households grew 4.1 percent.

Individual giving is affected by available, disposable household income, by wealth and by growth in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock-market index, all of which grew last year, as did general spending by individuals, the Giving USA Foundation says.

Foundation giving

Grants by independent foundations grew 7.8 percent, accounting for 74 percent of giving by all foundations.

Grantmaking by community foundations grew 10.9 percent, while giving by operations foundations grew 8.1 percent.

Corporate giving

Corporate giving includes cash and in-kind contributions made through corporate-giving programs, as well as grants and gifts made by corporate foundations.

Corporate foundation grants totaled an estimated $5.34 billion, down 0.8 percent.

Where giving goes

Giving to religion totaled $114.9 billion in 2014, up 2.5 percent in current dollars from 2013, or 0.9 percent adjusted for inflation, accounting for 32 percent of all giving.

Giving to education totaled $54.62 billion, up 4.9 percent, or 3.2 percent adjusted, accounting for 12.7 percent of all giving.

Giving to human services totaled $42.1 billion, up 3.6 percent, or 1.9 percent adjusted, accounting for 11.7 percent of all giving.

Giving to health totaled $30.37 billion up 5.5 percent, or 3.8 percent adjusted, accounting for 8.5 percent of all giving.

Giving to arts, culture and humanities totaled $17.23 billion, up 9.2 percent, or 7.4 percent adjusted, accounting for 4.8 percent of all giving.

Giving to the environmental and animal organizations totaled $10.5 billion, up 7 percent, or 5.3 percent adjusted, accounting for 2.9 percent of all giving.

Giving to public-society benefit groups totaled $26.29 billion, up 5.1 percent, or 3.4 percent adjusted, accounting for 7.3 percent of all giving.

Giving to foundations totaled $41.62 billion, up 1.8 percent, or 0.1 percent adjusted, accounting for 11.6 percent of all giving.

Giving to international affairs totaled $15.1 billion, down 2 percent, or 3.6 percent adjusted, accounting for 4.2 percent of all giving.

Giving to individuals fell 10.2 percent to $6.42 billion, accounting for 2 percent of all giving. Giving to individuals consists mainly of in-kind donations of medication to patients in need through the Patient Assistance Programs of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations,

Giving to religion

While giving to religion grew to a new high of $114.9 billion and continued to account for the biggest share of overall giving, that share has declined steadily for 30 years. In 1987, giving to religion accounted for 53 percent of all giving, compared to 32 percent in 2014.

That decline reflects the fact that fewer Americans identify with religion, attend worship services, or give to houses of worship, the report says. Those trends, it says, have been noted among Baby Boomers, and are being seen among younger age groups.

Giving to donor-advised funds

Giving to the biggest national donor-advised funds slowed dramatically, the report said. That decline may have slighted reduced giving to public-society-benefit groups, the report says.

It also said giving to pass-through charities that redistribute their funds to other organizations had seen little or no growth in recent years.

Todd Cohen

Philanthropy emerging as focus of academic study

Academic scholarship and teaching on philanthropy are thin but emerging, with much of it geared to the business of raising money and giving it away, and with the potential to cause conflicts between its funders and those who study them, a British philanthropy scholar and practitioner says.

In Europe, university-based centers’ courses and training “are not keeping pace with the growth in the scale and prominence of philanthropy in recent years,” Charles Keidan, a philanthropy practice research fellow at the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at Cass Business School at City University in London, writes in an article in Times Higher Education.

Growth outpaces scholarship

Between 2006-08 and 2011-12, giving to universities in Britain grew to 693 million British pounds, or $1.2 billion, from 513 million British pounds, or $822 million, and is expected to grow to 2 billion British pounds, or $3.21 billion, by 2022, Keidan writes in “Why philanthropy merits scholarly study.”

Yet across European universities, the article says, there are only 20 individual courses on philanthropy or with philanthropy as a core component.

Gain in visibility

It also see signs that philanthropy and charitable foundations, which it characterizes as philanthropy’s “handmaiden,” are “finally achieving global academic visibility.”

It cites the world’s first school of philanthropy, which Indiana University opened in 2013, and the fact that Europe is now home to eight dedicated academic centers of philanthropy and two chairs, most of which were created after 2000.

Still, consensus among scholars is lacking “about what should be studied or taught,” the article says.

“As an interdisciplinary phenomenon, philanthropy inevitably lends itself to — but also requires — expertise from a range of disciplines,” it says.

That creates a “potentially rich and vast research agenda,” and multiple disciplines have the potential to provide “important empirical insights,” it says.


But that “diffusion” among multiple disciplines “also creates complexity.”

Those complex issues, which seem “equally unresolved in the U.S.,” the article says, include questions about how the field will develop from a fragmented base; whether there is sufficient “critical mass” of scholarship, peer-reviewed journals and student demand; and how the “seemingly endless variety of research questions, approaches and methods will “coalesce.”

The article also says its research indicates “university leaderships are lukewarm to the development of a knowledge base about philanthropy,” and it cites an “unresolved tension between the two distinct thrusts” of philanthropy education.

“Alongside the urge to reflect on the related normative and abstract questions, there is the issue of teaching the coming generations of philanthropists, foundation professionals and fundraisers about how to distribute or raise funds,” the article says.

“The lack of skills-based techniques and training is a cause of frustration among some donors and practitioners.”

Chasing philanthropic dollars

Research for the article “uncovered signs of a renewed openness to philanthropy education among research-focused foundations, and found the “appetite” for philanthropic income is “naturally piquing an interest in philanthropy among some university leaders.”

But such “instrumentalization” of philanthropy education presents some dangers, the article says.

It could “narrow the scope of scholarly inquiry, gearing it towards research on stimulating giving or towards master’s-type courses with a more vocational and craft-based bent,” it says, adding its research suggests that might be happening in Europe, where most current courses on philanthropy — 13 of 20 — are post-graduate courses.

And funding of university-based philanthropy education by philanthropists and foundations creates the potential for conflicts of interest “on both sides,” the article says,

“Philanthropic backing may be motivated by a desire to promote philanthropy as well as study it,” it says. “This could push funding towards disciplinary settings broadly sympathetic to philanthropy (such as business and management) and away from those asking more critical questions (such as ethics or political theory).”

Possible conflicts for universities

Universities also could “find themselves conflicted between, on the one hand, welcoming philanthropists and seeking philanthropic funds for a range of causes and, on the other, supporting rigorous academic scholarship about philanthropy,” the article says.

Universities “might become sensitive to scholarship that asks critical questions — especially of the particular philanthropists who support them.”

In the U.S., where philanthropic income represents an even bigger share of university budgets, it says, “it is not unknown for scholars whose research raises awkward questions about philanthropy to be cautioned against biting the hand that feeds them.”

Recommended solution

The ideal approach, the article says, is for funding for philanthropy studies to come mainly from “statutory research councils, channelled into existing disciplinary settings.”

Philanthropic support “should be cautiously welcomed, but background correspondence and funding agreements between donors, university leaderships and academics should be made public to reduce real or perceived conflicts,” it says.

“Philanthropy’s imprint on the fabric of university life is just emerging,” the article concludes. “As its profile rises, we should expect some celebration of its contribution to higher education — but we are also entitled to demand more rigorous and robust scholarship about its role in society.”

Todd Cohen

Families using philanthropy as teaching opportunity

Charitable giving is becoming a family affair and an opportunity help children learn about philanthropy, particularly in families headed by donors under age 50, a new report says.

Donors with donor advised funds also are increasing the size of their grants, make grants more often, and spend most of the contributions to their funds within 10 years, says the 2014 Fidelity Charitable Giving Report.

The report, based on a survey of over 1,100 Fidelity Charitable donors and an analysis of the granting behavior of over 104,000 donors connected to nearly 64,000 donor advised funds, also says donors frequently recommend grants in advance or arrange for their distribution on a recurring basis.

Ninety-four percent of donors surveyed agreed strongly or somewhat that they are teaching or have taught their children to give, and 65 percent discussed their charitable giving with family more than twice in the past year, including 17 percent who discussed the topic with family more than five times a year.

Seventy-eight percent said the causes they support reflect input from family members.

Donors under age 50 were one-and-a-half times as likely as donors over 70 to strongly agree they are teaching or have taught their children to give.

Seventy-eight percent of donors under 50 talk about philanthropic strategies with family members at least twice a year, and 86 percent agree their family influences their charitable choices.

The analysis of donor advised funds at Fidelity Charitable found the average number of grants per fund grew to eight a year in 2013 from seven in 2012, with the average grant totaling $4,017, up 6 percent from the 2012.

Most income contributions to giving accounts are fully spent as grants within 10 years with 91 percent of contributions made from 1996 through 2000 granted to charities by the end of 2010.

Just over one in five grants, or a total of 110,000 grants, were recommended on a pre-scheduled basis.

Grants designated to to be used “where needed most” accounted for 41 percent of gnats overall.

An analysis of grants by the age of the donor found older donors recommend grants  across a wider range of charitable sectors than younger donors.

Donors under age 50  were most likely to recommend grants to the education, human services and religion sectors.

Donors older than 50 supported those sectors at similar or slightly greater frequencies, but recommended grants more frequently to charities in other sectors as well.

Todd Cohen

Million-dollar donors live nearby

Donors who make gifts of $1 million or more tend to live near the charities they support, a new study says.

Sixty percent of donors who made gifts at that level between 2000 and 2011 lived in the same state or geographic region as the nonprofit or foundation that received the gift, says A Decade of Million-Dollar Gifts, a study from consulting firm CCS and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Forty-seven percent of gifts at that level and 52 percent of their total dollar amount came from donors living in the same state as the charities they supported, says the study, which analyzed data from the Million Dollar List, the School of Philanthropy’s searchable online database of over 68,000 publicly announced gifts.

“The opportunity to strengthen one’s community can be highly attractive to potential donors,” Robert Kissane, president of CCS, says in a statement. 

“Nonprofit organizations that effectively communicate potential impact and seek out the right local donors may experience transformational gifts,” he says. “Thoughtful cultivation and stewardship of these donors can often lead to life-long philanthropic partners and community-based advocates as well as influence peer giving within the community.”

Donors in the same state accounted for over half the gifts of $1 million or more to health nonprofits; arts, culture and humanities organizations; higher education institutions; foundations; and government agencies.

And donors in the same region accounted for two-thirds of gifts at that level to those types of organizations.

Foundations and higher education institutions each received roughly one-third of the total dollar value of gifts at that level, with the remaining dollars split about evenly among other types of organizations and no subsector getting more than 10 percent of publicly announced gifts of $1 million or more.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, organizations of any type can attract million-dollar gifts,” Una Osili, director of research at the School of Philanthropy, says in a statement. “Donors at this level are motivated to give to a variety of organizations and causes.”

Individuals and foundations are the main source of publicly announced gifts at that level.

Roughly one-third of those gifts made between 2000 and 2011, representing half the total dollar amount of gifts at that level, came from gifts made by living individuals.

Including bequests, individuals contributed 40 percent of gifts at that level and 65 percent of the total dollar amount.

Foundations made 43 percent of gifts of $1 million or more, account for 25 percent of the total dollar value of those gifts.

Todd Cohen

Emerging donors aim for impact, involvement

The next generation of major donors is set to be the “most significant philanthropists in history”, and those donors are driven by values and a desire to make a big impact and be closely involved in causes they support, a new report says.

Those donors, who were born between 1964 and 2000 and are expected to inherit an unprecedented $40 trillion, want to respect the legacy of previous generations of donor while using “new, innovative, even risky strategies to make their giving more effective,” says the report from 21/64 and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The report, Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy, is based on a national online survey of 310 high-capacity donors and 30 in-depth individual interviews.

Despite the expectation of many people that those next-generation donors will be “entitled by privilege, careless with legacy, and eager for change,” the report says, the opposite is true.

“Values drive these next gen major donors, not valuables — values they often say they have learned from parents and grandparents,” the report says.

Those donors see philanthropic “strategy” as the main factor that distinguishes them from previous generations, it says.

“They intend to change how decisions are made and how research and due diligence are conducted, utilizing multiple sources for information and all of the ‘tools in the toolbox,'” it says.

Those donors also want to develop close ties with groups or causes they support, it says.

“Giving without significant, hands-on engagement feels to them like a hollow investment with little assurance of impact,” the report says.

And they believe that collaborating with peers “makes them all better donors, and extends their impact,” it says. “Put simply, they want to give the full range of their assets — their treasure, of course, but also their time, their talents, and even their ties, encouraging others to give their own time, talent, treasure and ties.”

Todd Cohen