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June 21, 2009

Women's Work: Driving Wealth Towards Charitable Causes

(In the last couple weeks, we have written about how women are influencing the professional landscape, how women may have impacted the evolution of our society, and how women as a chosen vehicle for investment are impacting global social change.)

Next up: the impact that women are having on the world of philanthropy.

Installment 4 of the women’s work series focuses on the extent to which women are reshaping the world through philanthropic donations and leadership, and charitable contributions. There has been lots of news coverage recently about women and philanthropy, sparked no doubt by the very sizable (about $100M) and mysterious and anonymous donations given to at least 20 universities in the last year. The anonymous donations are earmarked for scholarships for women and minorities and were all given to schools whose presidents are currently women - thus raising suspicions that it is a woman or group of women who is behind this intriguing show of force. More on donations here.

However, I also learned that aside from large initiative like this set of higher education donations, Women Moving Millions, and the Women’s Donors Network, the numbers are showing how women’s accumulated effort and impact is really driving change.

Joanna Krotz shared with me an article she wrote for Town and Country that indicates that:
* single women are more likely to give than single men
* married women influence their spouses to give more (than they otherwise would)
* more and more of the worlds wealth is being held by women (both due to increased earning power and life expectancy)

This conversation echoed others with Lauren Katzowtiz Shenfield, who stresses increasing importance of women’s philanthropy and who has been asked for her opinion by the media on the anonymous college donations numerous times.

Similarly, Momentum writes:

"Now, for the first time, women are in control of money on a large scale, according to the Boston College Social Welfare Research Institute, making up 53 percent of the workforce with their net worth at nearly $2.3 trillion. And with the enormous generational shift that will take place in the next half century, a majority will fall into the hands of women, who regularly outlive men. This likely means more giving. One study, conducted by the Center for Women’s Business Research, found that 47 percent of women versus 39 percent of men feel giving is a moral obligation."

It exciting to read that women’s increasing philanthropic influence is a growing trend and ongoing cultural shift.

With all the exciting ways to give and get involved, it seems that whereas historically the question we might ask ourselves would be “should I give?” and now it is becoming “how should I give?, where should I give?” and “when should I start giving?”!

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