Recently, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) released Women Give 2020 – New Forms of Giving in the Digital Age: Powered by Technology, Creating Community. The report, published during a time when most social interactions take place in front of a screen, shows broad gender differences in how women and men use the Internet and social networks, and how they give online.
These overarching themes emerged from the study:
1. Women give more online gifts than men and contribute a greater proportion of online dollars overall. Across all four case studies, women give greater numbers of gifts than men (nearly two-thirds of gifts, across platforms). Women’s greater number of donations means they collectively are giving more dollars than men through each platform studied.
2. Women give smaller online gifts than men and give to smaller charitable organizations than men.
3. Women’s and girls’ organizations receive substantially more support—online and offline—from women donors than from men donors. Three of the four case studies examined funding for women’s and girls’ causes, with women giving between 60 percent and 70 percent of online dollars to women’s and girls’ organizations, depending on the dataset.
The following three findings are specific to one or two of the individual datasets analyzed in the study and should not be generalized as representative of results across all four platforms.
4. A broader definition of philanthropy can help a movement spread globally and engage a diverse set of donors—appealing to women in particular. Expanding the definition of philanthropy to be more than giving money, such as giving time, skills or testimony, can help a movement spread globally, fueled by a diverse set of donors.
5. Compared to traditional methods of giving, technology enables donors to give in the way they would like and to discover organizations that align with their values and interests; platforms can also support online donors by curating causes and by building trust with donors. A case study provides an example of curating and presenting these choices for donors.
6. To appeal to women donors, platforms and organizations must build community online and continue to support in-person connections for donors. While technology means giving is increasingly taking place online, case studies show that in-person community remains essential for engagement in philanthropy.
To celebrate the release of the report, WPI hosted a launch event that featured nonprofit experts and practitioners from across the U.S. to help explain how they’d use the findings to grow and build philanthropy.
Beth Kanter from Beth Kanter’s Blog encouraged nonprofits to spread stories of support and generosity to stakeholders and community members on online networks. “Encourage your supporters to be ambassadors for your organization and spread your story,” she says.
“Generosity can be contagious. Use campaigns of gratitude and kindness to highlight stories of community resilience and engage with donors online.”
Teresa Younger, president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, explained that research shows women give to multiple issues and organizations that affect them. Women are also quick to go online and share information with their networks.
“Nonprofits should find ways to build connections with stakeholders, including through virtual events. Introduce individuals to multiple ways that they can become involved in philanthropy,” she said.
“Technology can also help engage more family members in philanthropy, so look for ways that you can build relationships with women and their families.”
Asha Curran, CEO of #GivingTuesday, also echoed the idea women like to give back in multiple ways.
“People who are generous in one way are often generous in other ways as well,” Curran said. “You can find ways to encourage that ‘both/and’ perspective of giving back.”
Coming from the social enterprise perspective, president and chairwoman of Hello Alice, Elizabeth Gore, encouraged nonprofits and donors to understand the blurring of lines between nonprofits, social enterprises, and some for-profits. She mentioned that philanthropy does not solely arise from the nonprofit sector, and asked participants to consider what it means to have a charitable purpose.
Finally, Givelify CEO Walle Mafolasire mentioned that we are in the process of reconsider what community means.
“How do we help everyone see themselves as philanthropists?” he asked.
Before and during the novel coronavirus pandemic, technology has redefined how we engage with other people, with nonprofits, and with our communities. It is redefining how we give back our time, talent, treasure, and testimony to the issues and causes we care about. Identifying how women engage with philanthropy online will help nonprofits develop stronger ways to involve all different types of givers.