The Data Is In: Women Give Differently Than Do Men

We developed The Ella Nash Society newsletter to focus on the special gifts of time, expertise, personal connections, and assets that shape women’s philanthropy. Our goal is to provide educational information to help Allegheny alumnae and female parents and friends make informed decisions about their own philanthropy. (Hello, male readers. We appreciate your interest!) Why a women-centered newsletter? With unprecedented access to education, fulfilling careers, and financial resources, women have become a powerful force for change and growth in the nonprofit sector —and the way that they give can dramatically differ from men.

Women’s philanthropy initiatives were established in the U.S. about three decades ago. The first program in higher education was started at the University of Wisconsin in 1988 by Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, who later wrote Women & Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World (2010). Shaw-Hardy and Taylor were the first academics to study contemporary women and philanthropy. They and others have identified key characteristics of women’s giving:

  • Philanthropy is personal. Women generally like to be engaged with the organizations they support, and they value the personal relationships that they develop.
  • Women often learn about opportunities for volunteering and financially supporting organizations  through other women. 
  • Relationships, trust, and “doing good” are more important motivators to women than are income tax considerations and peer pressure.
  • Women like to collaborate and leverage their funds, making gifts collectively with others for greater impact.

Research is also showing that across income levels and generations, women are more likely to give, and to give more, than their male counterparts. 

We have also found this to be true at Allegheny when comparing giving data over a recent five-year period for single male and female donors. We found that:

  • There were 1.5 women donors to every one male donor overall
  • Double the number of women supported the Annual Fund or documented bequest intentions 
  • The ratio of women to men funding charitable gift annuities and trusts was almost 3:1
  • And single women’s lifetime giving was double that of single men

A predicted historic transfer of wealth to women from parents and spouses is occurring now, and economists predict that about $59 trillion in assets will pass from Baby Boomers to their children over the next 25 years. Boston College’s Center on Wealth and Philanthropy estimates that women will inherit 70 percent of this so-called Great Wealth Transfer. Women currently control more than half of the wealth in the U.S. ($14 trillion) and could control two-thirds or more of it by 2030 as a result of the transfer.

You likely have, or will have, opportunities to influence charitable gifts, and it is important that you know how to best use your assets to do good. To learn more, contact Melissa Mencotti at (814) 332-6519, write us at, or visit our website at

Planning Tip

Writing a check or making a gift by using your credit card may not be the most advantageous way for you to support your favorite causes. Giving stocks and bonds, real estate, and other personal property that has grown in value since you got it will provide you with an immediate federal income tax deduction   and will eliminate your taxable gain on the amount that you give to charity. See “Ways to Give” at for more information.