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Throughout history, financial philanthropists have traditionally been considered to be men. Traditionally, men have held the majority of the world’s wealth, so it makes sense that they would have more to give. However, things are starting to change and women are controlling a higher percentage of wealth. Not only that, but women are expected to inherit much of the private wealth that is liable to change hands over the coming few decades.

Between 2010 and 2015, the amount of wealth held privately by women grew to nearly 50%, reaching $51 trillion. This means big changes not only for business and investment, but also for philanthropy. Empirical studies have shown that women are more likely to give than men, and also that they are driven by different factors.

Joey Horn gives generously to a number of causes, including Make a Wish UK and Restore the Music UK. As women have increasingly more to give, there are three main areas where they are making the biggest bets.

Ecosystem Not Ego-System

The motivation for giving has been identified as being different for women than it is for men. As more women philanthropists appear on the scene, this means we ill likely see a shift in giving towards an ecosystem, rather than an ego-system.

A recent study at the University of Zurich explored the processes that take place in male and female brains when they made decisions on giving that were either selfish or prosocial. The reactions of the striatum, which is the area of the brain that is active in decision-making and measures reward, was more strongly activated during prosocial decisions in females and more strongly activated during selfish decisions in males.

The study went on to show that these differences were activated at a biological level, but the authors warned that cultural conditioning likely also plays a key role. Empirical studies have demonstrated that girls are conditioned to expect more reward for unselfish, prosocial decisions. In couples, differences between gender income affects where philanthropy is likely to be channelled. The attached infographic looks at some of the top couple philanthropists of 2018 and where their money went.

Increased Investment in Girls and Women

As more women have more money to give, it stands to reason that more will be invested in girls and women. However, this is not simply about empathy; one of the best social returns comes from investment in girls and women and as shown above, women are more likely to focus their giving in areas where the returns are prosocial.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that female philanthropists are more likely to invest in causes they can relate to, which include girls and women. Studies throughout the earlier years of the 21st century showed that investment in these types of causes remained relatively low.

This has led to a variety of new charitable and non-profit organisations being founded to address the inequality, committing to advancing and empowering women and girls across the world. The Women Moving Millions Movement is introduced in the embedded short video.

Amplified Impact

The third big bet women are making in philanthropy is in impact investment. The PDF attachment explains the benefits of impact investing.

A Morgan Stanley survey found that only 67% of men were interested in sustainable investment, compared to 84% of women. As women control more of the wealth, it therefore stands to reason that causes offering social and environmental returns as well as financial gain will see higher levels of investment on a global scale.