Building blocks illustrating women influence
Fundraising,Leadership Published Date, 2023

Growing Influence: Women Are Shaping The Future Of Philanthropy

Created By: Ryan Grosso and Lauren Hancock
March 27, 2023

The face of philanthropy is changing—and bringing with it an evolution in the role and purpose of charitable giving. This new look is more female and, in many cases, more centered around “social change philanthropy.” As women have become more prominent in the world of philanthropy, the focus of giving has increasingly shifted to addressing social, economic, and environmental injustices.

In short, women are striving to use their growing wealth and influence to create a more just, equitable, and healthy society.

“Before the pandemic started, women were increasing their giving and broadening beyond what they might normally support,” Jennifer Alcorn, deputy director of philanthropic partnerships for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told Forbes. “From research and development, local food banks, giving direct relief to families across the country, to global health — women are a driving force behind the increase in giving we’re seeing right now.”

Women increasingly have their own careers, time, and money. The majority of women in the United States — a record 52 percent — were unmarried in 2021, according to a report released by Wells Fargo. One hundred years ago, just 7 percent of women were single. Women are gaining and managing more wealth than previous generations, and women overall are deciding to get married and have children later, or deciding not to marry or have children at all. With time commitments and financial responsibilities looking different for women today than in previous generations, women are deepening their investment in causes they care about.

Women have been in the shadows of philanthropy – first as silent influencers, then as partners to men – but now, they are the decision-makers. This emergence of women as major players in the philanthropic sector impacts how nonprofit organizations should be communicating with donors.

Fostering Female-Focused Philanthropy at Your Organization

Organizations must seriously consider changing traditional communication styles that focus on men and talk more directly to women donors, especially when it comes to planned giving.

As women have more control over their assets than in previous generations, and outlive men on average, they will be able to make impactful and meaningful gifts not only through transformational philanthropy now (more here) but also through their estates. In fact, a 2020 study by McKinsey found that 30% more households are involving women in financial decision-making in just the past five years.

“We have this idea that philanthropy is old white men, but that is changing. Women are earning more money, they have more education. Their role in philanthropy has been growing exponentially,” says Debra Mesch, former Director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University.

Most big donors are looking to support nonprofits whose mission aligns with their values. And women philanthropists are likely to have a clear vision of what causes they intend to support. If your organization expects to compete for these generous philanthropic grants it must be able to speak directly to women, demonstrating you are financially prudent, structurally sound, and capable of delivering services that are beneficial to society.

Women also now have the opportunity to make a long-term difference through their estate in ways that, on average, women have not historically had. By 2030, an unprecedented amount of assets will shift into the hands of American women representing a $30 trillion opportunity. This type of seismic wealth transfer should be a driving force in your nonprofit organization’s planned giving and development strategy moving forward.

The wealth of women has grown, and with it comes the power and influence to shape nonprofit organizations. Times are changing. The world is evolving and nonprofit leaders should be focused on a female-centered strategy when it comes to fundraising and organizational success.

Want to attract the support of ambitious philanthropists? Get in touch with Orr Group to understand how we can help you strategically drive your fundraising forward and scale growth.

Ryan Grosso is a Director and Head of Fundraising at Orr Group. Ryan brings nearly a decade of experience to develop innovative and actionable fundraising plans for our nonprofit partners.

Lauren Hancock is a Director and Head of Planned Giving at Orr Group. She advises on and implements sophisticated planned giving strategies to drive long-term revenue growth.

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