The School of Philanthropy
Research Studies

Women Give 2012

Key Findings & Resources
Women Give 2012 Research Paper

The new report is the third in a series of research reports by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University that offers deeper insights as to how gender differences affect philanthropy. The Women Give studies complement a growing body of research that affirms women’s growing importance as donors in the nonprofit sector. They also benefit decision-makers and fundraisers seeking to expand their donor base and attract more volunteers by providing key insights to inform their strategic efforts to more deeply engage women.

LISTEN to a short description of the study (11 minutes 51 seconds - MP3).

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Importance of gender to giving

This new study builds on the results of Women Give 2010 which found significant differences in the likelihood of giving — as well as the dollar amounts given — between households headed by single males and those headed by single females. The 2010 study showed that single women are more likely to give to charity, and give at a higher level than single men, across most income levels, after accounting for other factors that affect giving.

The Baby Boomer generation

Women Give 2012 contributes to the understanding of the giving patterns of Boomer and older Americans, providing a snapshot of their philanthropic behavior prior to the Great Recession (2008-2009). At 76 million strong, Baby Boomers are the largest generation in America today. Because of their sheer numbers and the societal changes that occurred as they grew up, Boomers have had a significant impact on society through their beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and habits about buying, spending, culture, politics, and more at every stage of their lives. Their impact is expected to continue to be felt across all aspects of society as they age, including in philanthropy.

Key Finding

Boomer and older women are more likely to give to charity and give more than their male counterparts when other factors affecting giving are taken into consideration. 

These findings are consistent when we examine the entire sample as well as those households in the top 25 percent of permanent income.

The findings challenge perceptions about who is philanthropic, revealing that Boomer and older women are as or more philanthropic than their male counterparts. The results add to the growing body of knowledge about the importance of gender in philanthropy, give female donors context for their personal experiences with philanthropy, and prompt nonprofits to seek gender balance in their fundraising strategies. Even though women, in general, earn less than men, have less money in retirement, and
outlive their spouses, this study demonstrates that Boomer and older women are more likely to give and give more to charity than men.