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John McMillin: Survey on women’s giving highlights strengths of both sexes

John McMillin • Updated Jun 20, 2017 at 5:00 PM

As a state nonprofit, we are required to register with the state’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming. Recently, this division passed along an interesting survey, conducted by Fidelity Charitable, about the roles of women of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations in charitable giving as compared to men.

The survey, completed in 2016 brings some interesting things to light. Although we don’t have room to pass along all the information, I’m hopeful you’ll find the following information interesting.

“Women today play a central role in philanthropy, leading charitable giving within their families, using their time and skills to advance causes within their communities, and embodying the purpose and heart that underpin philanthropic goals,” the report said. 

Men and women give differently and could learn from one another’s strengths.

• Regardless of generation, women’s overall approach to giving is distinct from men’s. Women are more spontaneous, engaged and empathetic. Half say they give in the moment rather than using a giving strategy, compared with 40 percent of men who say the same.

• Women look to experts to inform their decision making around giving, while men are more likely to seek advice from peers or family members. Millennial men report more uncertainty (46 percent) than Millennial women (34 percent) about where to turn for giving direction.

• Women are more likely to have questions around the finances of giving. They are less confident than men about deciding which tax strategies or methods to use for giving and which assets to contribute to charity.

Two generations of women and the different ways they give:

• Boomer women are more confident and strategic in their philanthropy. Seventy-two percent say they are satisfied with their giving, compared with 55 percent of Millennials.

• Millennial women are more likely to lead with their hearts and take a more social approach to giving. Three-quarters say they follow their hearts when giving rather than a strategic plan. They are also more likely to discuss and encourage giving among their peers and make philanthropy an emotional part of their relationships with spouses and partners.

• Millennials are open to trying new forms of giving, such as crowdfunding or giving circles, while Boomers engage in more traditional giving methods.

Some takeaways from the report are, in brief, that Boomer women tend to give with more confidence. Women of the Millennial generation tend to give in the moment. Women of the Boomer generation also tend to be more focused, preferring to donate their funds to a very select group of areas.

Something that many non-profits raising funds are keenly aware of is that Millennial women embrace new methods of giving. Many of us in the non-profit world are experiencing this reality from Millennials both male and female. A new generation expects and wants new ways to give.

Overall, although men and women give differently, they can both learn from the other’s strengths states the report. I would venture that’s a statement we all may support.

John McMillin is president of United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland. Email him at john@givetouwwc.org.

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