Jacqueline Ackerman is the associate director of research at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. In this post, she details new research about the intersection of race, gender, and giving.
A new study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving Across Communities of Color, highlights that generosity is a value shared by all communities, linking women across race and ethnicity.
Women Give 2019 is an important addition to the body of WPI research because all of us come to philanthropy with our own backgrounds and through our own experiences, which means we often have a blurry or incomplete perspective on giving.
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s assistant professor Tyrone Freeman highlighted this incomplete picture in an op-ed last year, noting that donors of color have always been generous, but have not been adequately recognized by the larger society.
We hope Women Give 2019 functions like a pair of glasses to focus this picture. By looking through the lenses of gender, and of race and ethnicity, we are able to see a clearer and more complete picture of philanthropy.
Our study found that:
- Households across all racial groups give. A substantial portion of all racial groups give to charity, and high net worth households are especially likely to give.
- Households across all racial groups give to similar causes, including both religious and secular causes. Religion and basic needs are the top two causes supported across race and income.
- A donor’s race does not have a significant effect on the amount given to charity, when taking income and other factors into account. When factors known to affect giving (such as wealth, income, and education) are taken into consideration, and giving is measured as a percentage of income, race does not appear to affect the amounts that households donate. Other demographics, such as income and wealth, have a stronger impact on household giving amounts.
- Overall gender differences in giving appear consistent across racial groups. For all groups, single women are more likely than single men to give to charity; married and cohabiting couples are more likely than either single men or single women to give to charity.
- Formal volunteering shows greater racial and ethnic gaps. Communities of color appear to be less engaged in formal volunteering. Other research has shown that informal volunteering rates (giving time, but not via a formal program or organization) are higher in communities of color.
Women Give 2019 uses data from both the Philanthropy Panel Study and from the U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy. We also conducted case study interviews to supplement findings with real-life experiences of women philanthropists in communities of color. Across the board, the women described how their giving has been shaped by their racial and gender identities—and often by both at the same time.
Donors may use this study to connect their personal experiences to the broader philanthropic landscape, and look to affinity groups or collective giving to leverage their impact. While philanthropy is a universal value, many nonprofits have yet to draw on the power of networks within diverse communities.
As the U.S. population grows increasingly diverse, now is the opportune time for nonprofits to develop intentional strategies to engage communities of color. Creating a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive culture will help any nonprofit strengthen the bottom line, deepen relationships within the community, enhance decision-making, reach more donors, and connect with more stakeholders.
Stay tuned to the blog for more about Women Give 2019, including a closer look at the case study interviews, and discussions with Lilly Family School of Philanthropy students about how their identities—whether gender, race and ethnicity, or something else—inform their interest in philanthropy.
WPI has also partnered with the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Facebook to create the “Who Is A Philanthropist?” video series, which spotlights how diverse women are giving back to their communities in unique ways. Follow along and share your own giving story!
Read the study in full along with the accompanying infographic and executive summary. The research was completed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings and conclusions in the research, and the views expressed in this blog post, are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect official positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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