Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

May 26, 2009

Women, giving circles reshaping giving sector

By Todd Cohen

The giving sector should pay more attention to the increasingly influential role that women and giving circles play in the charitable marketplace.

Women are shaping the future of charitable giving, while giving circles are making a bigger impact in giving.

Those are the conclusions of two new studies that suggest nonprofits should be investing more in getting to know and engaging women and givers who pool and give away charitable funds through donor circles.

A study by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund says women are playing a prominent role in philanthropy in their households and communities.

Nearly half the women surveyed say they make the decisions in their households on how much money to give to charity and which charities to support.

“Women have always had a hand in their household’s charitable outreach,” says Sarah C. Libbey, president of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. “But that role is evolving as women increasingly create their own wealthy and become the beneficiaries of wealth transfers because they live longer. As a result, women are stepping up to take on more philanthropic leadership roles.”

And a new study by the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University says givers who take part in giving circles say they give more, give to more charities, give more strategically, and know more about nonprofits and community problems when they take part in giving circles.

Members of giving circles also are more likely than other givers to give to groups that serve women and girls, ethnic and minority groups, and for arts, culture and ethnic awareness, the study says.

With the recession stressing them and sending them scrambling for donations, nonprofits should make sure they better understand the givers who are reshaping the giving sector and get them involved in their organizations.


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