By Elizabeth Schuman
Senior Women’s Associate
If you’re anything like me, the first time you heard the words “women’s philanthropy,” you may have paused. If you’ll pardon the pun, you may have thought: “What gives? Isn’t charity gender-neutral?” After all, when your family donates to a cause, you’ve made your statement, provided your support, and, in effect, voted thumbs up. That one check does it all.
Wake up. This isn’t 1955, or for that matter, 1985. It’s no longer solely a man’s charitable world. In fact, women at nearly every income level are as much as 40 percent more likely than men to contribute to charity, found Women Give 2010, a headline-making report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Not only are women more likely to give, women give more, said the report, which compared giving between men and women across income levels. For example, a female-headed household with a family income of at least $103,000 is likely to donate nearly $1,910, or some $1,000 more than in a household headed by a man.
As I pondered the statistics and learned more about THE ASSOCIATED’s reach, I kept thinking about the term, women’s philanthropy. By then, I had met many of the leaders within ASSOCIATED Women. Committed, energized, passionate, they kept espousing the importance of a woman’s gift. Laura Black, last year’s president of ASSOCIATED Women, emphasized the importance of every woman taking a stand, becoming partners with the organizations they support, and combining the gift with activism. Last year, ASSOCIATED Women gave nearly $7 million to the campaign, with more than 2,900 individual women donors.
Women give differently. Some compelling statistics: The Center for Women’s Business Research found that almost half, 47 percent, of women, versus 39 percent of men, feel giving is a moral imperative. Women explore what they are passionate about and what is important – it goes beyond writing a check. A woman’s gift, Laura Black pointed out, allows a woman to direct where her money goes, and connect directly to the organization that matters most to her. It’s that passion that drives the gift.
The concept of women’s philanthropy has become more real to me thanks to a longtime donor. Giving for years in her husband’s name, she opened her conversation with me with these words, “I would like to make my own gift. In my name, at this level. So, I know that I’ve made my stand.”
And she did.
As a woman, how do you begin to give? How do you begin to get your heart around women’s philanthropy? Not surprisingly, the answers encompass education, engagement, and commitment.
Your gift matters more when you learn about THE ASSOCIATED and its myriad of agencies and programs caring for children, families, and seniors living here in Baltimore and overseas. Become involved in programs that speak to you. Participate in an agency. Join other professional women looking to strengthen their networks. Build leadership skills in special classes and programs. Volunteer in the community. Lend your expertise on a committee.
Commit. Every gift is meaningful and of value. Special ASSOCIATED Women giving levels range from a $1 a day at the Community level ($365 a year) to transformational gifts of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your gift matters.
As we begin our 2012 Annual Campaign, your voice can be heard. That’s the real meaning of women’s philanthropy.