Increasingly, Women are Leading U.S. Philanthropy

Here’s the facts, according to a recent comprehensive study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University:

— Women are creating and controlling wealth at a higher rate than ever before. Women control more than 51% of private wealth in the U.S.  The IRS reports that 43% of the nations top wealth holders, those with assets of $1.5 million or more, are women.

— The influence of wealth held by women is increasing. According to Forbes, women are set to inherit $28.7 trillion over the next 40 years in intergenerational wealth transfers. At some point in their lives, 90% of all women will be solely responsible for their own or their family’s finances,

— Research supports very real gender differences in giving. Women across all income levels are more likely to donate to charity than men, with single women donating more than single men by a margin of 9%. Female-headed households not only were more likely to give, but also tended to give nearly twice as much.

A 2013 U.S. Trust study on Women and Wealth found that women’s perspectives on wealth are shaped by their experiences, upbringing, outlook and goals. One reason is that their socio-economic status has risen over the past several decades along with increased access to education and income – two key predictors of philanthropy. Women report that the hesitations they may have about giving are less related to wealth preservation and heirs, and more about the charities under consideration. A lack of knowledge about the charity, a fear that their funds won’t be used wisely and concern that their giving will result in an increase in solicitations are factors. Along with the growth in women’s assets and capacity, their volunteer efforts in fund-raising and board participation, and growing employment presence in the nonprofit sector, has increased informed awareness of the social, economic and political issues that influence society.

Margaret May Damen, co-author of Women, Wealth & Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation notes that women are starting to realize that “in order to inspire the next generation, they need to be good examples.” She further adds that women want to be involved in a charity before they make the decision to give money, they expect greater transparency, and they will follow through with a project. To Ms. Damen, it is no surprise that men and women approach money differently. “I think women see money as a means to an end and men see money as a commodity to exchange,” she says. “It’s a different mindset.”

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