The Great Wealth Transfer: More Women Donors | Gail Perry Group

Are you ready for a seismic shift in fundraising? 

It’s the Great Wealth Transfer, and it’s going to change who we move to the top of our major gifts prospect list and how we approach them.

Who am I talking about? Women. 

Over the next 10 years, American women will gain control of much of the $30 trillion in financial assets held by baby boomers as their spouses or parents pass on. That’s more than the annual GDP of the United States!

That means we need to learn all we can about what matters to these high-net-worth women. What are they passionate about? What makes them want to give? And how do they like to be approached?

Today, let’s focus on four facts about women donors, and what that tells us about the future of philanthropy.

Fact #1: Women are more likely than men to give, and they give more. 

According to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, women give away a larger percentage of their income than men as their income rises. That’s especially true of single women, who out-give single men.

Just take a look at recent headlines:

  • MacKenzie Scott, a novelist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has given away $14.1 billion since 2020. With no strings attached.
  • Ruth Gottesman, a former professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and widow of a successful Wall Street investor, recently donated $1 billion to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx to make tuition free.

And that’s just two examples. 

Key question: Could there be a female donor on your list who could think that big?

Maybe not billions, but a six- or seven-figure charitable contribution? 

Believe me, there are budding philanthropists in your community—on your own donor list. As The Great Wealth Transfer takes place, we need to make sure we’re not underestimating women’s generosity. 

Fact #2: Women give where they are passionate and are especially motivated by empathy.

Did you know that women give differently than men? They are more often driven by empathy compared to men, who, studies show, give more to areas of self-interest. 

Women are more likely to select women’s and girls’ issues as one of their top three causes, including areas such as reproductive/health rights, women’s health and services to address violence against women.

In addition, woman-deciding households are also more likely to give to youth and family, health, and international causes,

That’s exciting for so many organizations. And remember, women care about other issues too. 

Key question: Have you taken the time to get to really know your major gifts prospects, especially the women?

You won’t know what’s motivating them unless you ask! 

That’s where discovery conversations come in. It’s our job to listen and then connect their personal interests to the good work our organization is doing. 

Fact #3 Women are significantly more likely to volunteer than men but not more likely to lead non-profit boards.

About four in ten (42%) women spent time volunteering in 2022, compared with three in ten (33%) of men.

When you look around your organization, can you see the incredible impact women are making? That has long been the case! Women are often the workers – maybe because they have the time, but also because they have the heart!

Now look at your board.  Nationwide, only 42% of nonprofit chairs are women while 48% of non-profit board members are women. That’s not bad, but it could be better – especially as we reach out to more women for major gifts.

Remember, people who volunteer tend to give where they spend their time. That’s especially true for women. 

Key question: Could some of those wonderful female volunteers become your next board members? 

To get ready for The Great Wealth Transfer, we need to have more women at the table. Those leaders will be the ones to lend their wisdom, expertise and passion to support your fundraising goals. 

And remember, women board members will know other women of influence (i.e. the ones inheriting wealth) and can open the door to very fruitful major gifts conversations.

Fact #4 –  More women are building their own wealth by launching companies and leading corporations.

In the last 10 years, the percentage of women in the upper echelons of management has risen exponentially. For instance, 44% of companies now have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% of companies in 2015.

Successful, educated women not only have substantial financial assets at their disposal, but they are more likely to be involved in charitable-giving decisions in their homes. 

They may also have influence over corporate philanthropic dollars that would take your organization to a whole new level.

Key question: Have you built relationships with the women business leaders in your sphere of influence? 

This is a great place for your board members to get involved. Why not ask them to introduce you to executives in networks – including women? 

Or, have your board member invite the executive to a special storytelling tour of your organization, where they will serve as their host. 

Bottom Line on Women and the Transfer of Wealth: It’s time to be more intentional about the way we focus on women in our fundraising.

Who might you be neglecting? Are there high-capacity women among your donors who would love some attention? I bet so!