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There is an increasing body of research being compiled on trends in charitable and philanthropic giving which looks at the gender gap and how the role of women in philanthropy is growing. Much of this research provides only a narrow understanding as the focus is on affluent women, rather than across all income levels. The attached infographic looks at some of these statistics for high-net worth families.

However, the statistics show that women are more likely to give than men in almost any situation, and philanthropy is being influenced by women across all demographics in a major way. Joey Horn is a long-time philanthropist who gives to a variety of causes, including Right to Play, Restore the Music and Harvard Art Fellows. With women increasing their influence on philanthropy at every level, the way funds for charities are being raised and distributed is naturally changing too.

Shifting Economic Positions

There are many reasons why women across all demographics are beginning to give more than their male counterparts, but one of the key drivers is a shift in economic position. While gender imbalances in terms of income persist and still need to be addressed, women are earning more on average than ever before.

In 2008, the average amount a woman earned stood at 80% of that of men in equivalent roles. This compares to just 62% for women working full-time in 1979. Between 1987 and 2007 among couples where both parties worked full-time, the percentage of females earning more than their husbands grew to 26%, a rise of 8%.

Women today tend to have better access to education, more opportunities for work and an increased presence in the labour force. These changes lead to women having more disposable income, which is a necessity for charitable giving.

The PDF attachment looks in more detail at what prompts men and women to give to charity.

Empathy Vs. Self-Interest

Another reason why women may be more likely to give than men is that women typically demonstrate higher levels of empathy. An example of this can be seen in research performed by a team led by Robb Willer of Stanford University. Willer found that whether a man would contribute to a cause relating to poverty was dependent on how that cause was framed.

Researchers found that men were more likely to want to donate to a poverty-related cause when that cause was presented as a social problem that had a negative impact on everyone. Once men saw poverty as something they might experience or be impacted by themselves, they were more likely to give. This suggests that men will give more to a cause that serves their own self-interests.

Interestingly, women became less likely to give when the cause was framed in terms of self-interest rather than empathy, which leaves charities in a position whereby they may only be able to appeal to one gender and not the other.

The short video attachment looks at a few ways in which to promote higher levels of giving from men.


The Evolving Female Philanthropist

Women being involved heavily in philanthropy is nothing new;  what is evolving is the way in which women are giving, Women have historically and traditionally been known for giving up time for voluntary causes, such as aiding soldiers or volunteering to help the poor. In recent years, as women have entered the workforce in high numbers and more women have an income or finances of their own, they have begun to contribute more financially as well as physically, hence the perceived rise in female philanthropy.