Harness the Giving Power of Women | npENGAGE

Harness the Giving Power of Women

By on Jan 26, 2011


Women, as a group, are increasingly impacting fundraising efforts in the U.S.  Research shows that women tend to the lead the philanthropic decision-making in many households and have the resources and desire to make their own impact on the world around them.  Almost 70% of women are employed and nearly half of them say that they are the family breadwinner.  Affluent women are on the rise:

  • More than three million women have gross assets approaching $1 million;
  • Nearly half of America’s top wealth-holders are women;
  • Their wealth is often attributed to business ownership;
  • Today, there are more than ten million privately-held women-owned firms and they account for 2 out of every 5 U.S. businesses.

Women’s charitable objectives differ significantly from men’s.  They tend to concentrate their giving to a specific group of causes including the needs of children, opportunities for women, education and health issues. They also support causes that provide economic opportunities for all, promote diversity, and support the arts and the environment.  Many of their gifts go to grassroots organizations or are restricted to grassroots programs if the gift is given to a larger or national-level nonprofit.

If you can easily identify affluent women among your constituents you are already well on your way to reaping the benefits they may want to provide you. If you cannot, you may want to purchase demographic data to assist in identifying key female philanthropists. Consider data appends such as:

  • Age;
  • Gender;
  • Ethnicity;
  • Religious affiliation;
  • Household income;
  • Liquid asset estimates;
  • Business affiliation;
  • Marital status.

Then, take a scan of your organization’s appeal letters, newsletters and stewardship materials to see if they represent and highlight your female constituents.  Review them to make certain that you are providing details on the distribution of funds to administration, program and mission accomplishment and fundraising.  Wherever possible, personalize your communications so that your donors get a greater understanding of the impact of their individual gifts.  Accountability goes a long way with women supporters.  To effectively engage them, you must speak to them differently and ask for their involvement both financial and with their time.

*Katherine Swank is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach her at katherine.swank@blackbaud.com.


Katherine Swank, JD, senior consultant at Target Analytics, a Blackbaud Company, helps nonprofits apply statistical analytics and donor research to their fundraising efforts with an emphasis on planned gifts. She has raised nearly $250 million for mission funding during her nonprofit development career. Katherine is a retired affiliate faculty member of Regis University’s master of Global Nonprofit Management degree program, where she taught courses on wealth and philanthropy.  Along with writing for publications like Advancing Philanthropy and Philanthropy Journal, she is also a frequent presenter for industry conferences such as NACGP, AFP, APRA, and bbcon. Having grown up in a tourist destination in Colorado, Katherine has become an avid world traveler and is exploring her way through the 1,000 places to see before you die, albeit slowly.  Connect with her on Twitter @KatherineSwank.

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