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

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Boomer women bigger donors, study says

Single women who are Baby Boomers and older give more to charity, and are more likely to give, than single men the same age when education, income and other factors are equal, a new study says.

At all income levels, and no matter what share of permanent income they give, Boomer and older women give 89 percent more to charity than their male counterparts, says Women Give 2012, a study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Among  women in the top 25 percent of permanent income who give at the highest level, or 3 percent or more of income, Boomer and older women give 156 percent more than men the same circumstances.

The U.S. is home to 76 million Boomers, or Americans born from 1946 through 1964, a group that represents the biggest generation in the country.

Boomers hold over 90 percent of net worth in the U.S. and account for 78 percent of all financial assets.

Based on 2007 projections, women accounted for 51 percent of Boomers in the U.S., a share expected to grow to 54 percent by 2030.

And women age 50 and older control net worth of $19 trillion and own over 75 percent of financial wealth in the U.S., it says, while women age 50 to 70, or roughly the age of Boomers, hold 47.2 percent of the gross assets of the top female wealth holders in the U.S.

“Boomers and people of older generations are more likely to give and give more on average than younger generations,” the study says,

And Boomer women, it says, are “transforming philanthropy through innovative new charitable organizations and ways to engage in charitable activity.”

The number of nonprofit women’s funds, often public foundations, which are governed mainly by women and raise money from public sources to support programs for women and girls, now totals 165 in 27 countries on six continents, the study says.

A recent study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute that included women of all ages found that, generally, households headed by single females are more likely to give, and to give more, than households headed by single males, when factors that affect philanthropic behavior are equal.

That study and the new study looked only at households headed by single females and single males to explain gender differences.

Married couples tend to pool income and decide together about charitable giving, it says, so studying married couples does not allow for testing gender differences in giving.

The new study also says Boomer and older women are more likely than men to be concerned about their economic future and funds available for retirement as they age.

Women generally have lower incomes and spend less time in the work force than men, it says.

In particular, it says, women as they age are affected more adversely than men by aversion to risk in making financial decisions, by longer life expectancy, by being single as they age, and by having less money in retirement.

So women tend to set aside more money as “precautionary savings,” limiting any spending, including charitable giving, the study says.

And more conservative investment by women of accumulated wealth, it says, likely will yield a lower level of permanent income.

Greater aversion to risk suggests that the tendency to spend out of a “certain flow of income and stock of wealth” will be lower among women than men.

“Women, in general, earn less and have less money in retirement than men, and then have a greater life expectancy,” Debra J. Mesch, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, says in a statement.

“Although some may have concerns about their financial security,” she says, “our study suggests that Boomer and older women share their  resources with others more generously than their male peers.”

Previous research by the Institute also found that strong networks among women “may keep them more connected to both the needs of others and to opportunities to give,” Mesch says.

“The giving habits of Boomer and older women are a powerful reminder about the importance of gender in philanthropy,” she says. ‘These insights help nonprofits better understand their female donors and remind fundraisers of the importance and value of seeking gender balance in their fundraising strategies.”

— Todd Cohen