Note from ProspectResearch.com: Cecilia Hogan has been leading the prospect research effort at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington for more than 15 years. She served on the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) International board of directors from 1999-2002 and is a former president of APRA-NW. Cecilia is the author of Prospect Research: A Primer for Growing Nonprofits (2008: Jones & Bartlett, second edition). You may follow her on twitter @CeciliaHogan.
Gather ’round, Researchers, and let’s travel back in time together. It’s the early 1990s, when it barely had occurred to many of us to pay attention to women as potential major gift donors. But then Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) President Ann Castle (1951-2000) was deeply interested in this topic. Ann created Women in Philanthropy, a resource for prospect researchers and fundraisers thinking about philanthropists who are women. The collection was quickly staggering. Ann shared the oldest and newest gifts – and their stories – with us. The conversations were bright and full of excitement. Women, we discovered, were an untapped resource for prospect researchers. Our Ann became a (woman’s) voice in the world of philanthropic measures, producing a groundbreaking big (male and female) donors list for Slate.com before we lost her way too soon.
Fast forward to today, more than 20 years later, and let’s see where we (and women philanthropists) are now. A recent study reports that 95% of women will serve as the primary financial decision-maker for their families at some point in their lives. Another study reports that nine of ten women serve as the sole decision-maker or partner equally with their spouses for charitable contributions in their families.
Nine of Ten. That is earth-shattering. The simplest fundraising logic, “follow the pocket,” becomes even easier to apply. That pocket probably has “Hermes” or “Louis Vuitton” embossed on it.
Now take a look at your own work. Are you wisely using available resources to identify potential major gift donors who are women? The donor rolls NOZA mines and indexes list women every way we can imagine, with the two most common being 1) as a part of a couple where the woman is nearly vaporized (“Mr. and Mrs. His First Name His Last Name); or 2) as a part of a couple, v.2 (His First Name and Her First Name Their (His) Last Name).
But there are women, in a couple or not, who are listed as solo donors to nonprofits. Huh? Yes, as researchers know, looking for philanthropic experience both in its elemental presence and in its depth takes looking up, down, and sideways.
SMART TIP: The highly skilled among us remember to look for a woman by her initial or birth name, her married name, her hyphenated name, and her first name coupled with her middle (or former last) name and current last name. Whew! Are we done yet? Probably not, but that’s a good start on locating the philanthropically experienced women residing quietly in your database.
Ann Castle once said that we are all philanthropists, no matter what size gifts we make to our favorite charities. She enjoined all of us to see ourselves as change-makers. Funny, isn’t it? The freshest studies say that is exactly what 82% of women philanthropists want to be.
*A list of resources and articles on women in philanthropy are listed below:
Women of Wealth Family Wealth Advisor Council, 2011
Wealthy Women Control Charitable Checkbooks Philanthropy Journal, Jan. 2012
The 2011 Study of High Net Worth Women’s Philanthropy and The Impact of Women’s Giving Networks, researched and written by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, December 2011
Women in Philanthropy, created by Ann Castle and archived (since 2009) at the University of Michigan where many of her associations and friends were