A lot has changed in the past 20 years. Women have taken the workforce by storm and can pursue any occupation their hearts desire. As our earning power has skyrocketed and our financial independence has grown, another trend has emerged–women are taking a starring role in philanthropy.

According to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, part of the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University, single women are significantly more likely to give a philanthropic gift than single men.  But what has sparked this increase in women’s giving? Is it simply that we earn more and therefore can give more? Or is there more to the story?

Why Women Give More to Charity

When hearing this figure, some have questioned if women are overextending themselves as they sometimes tend to do in other areas of their lives, putting others needs before their own.

So, is this increase in women’s giving due to our increased income or big hearts and lack of financial savvy?

Sondra Shaw-Hardy, co-author of Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World and co-founder of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, has been interested in women’s increasingly powerful role for decades. She said women’s role in philanthropy has increased in more than just the zeros they place on a check.

Women are not only in a better position to give monetarily now that they are earning their own paychecks, but also have more say in how their families give as well.

“[Years ago] women didn’t have the input. They didn’t feel they deserved the input, in particular if the woman didn’t work outside of the home,” Shaw-Hardy said. “Now, they are feeling an ownership in the fact that ‘I did a lot to get my husband or family to where they are, that I deserve to be a part of the decision making.’ “

Shaw-Hardy said qualitative studies she has done and subsequent research that has since followed, shows men and women tend to give differently.

“Men tend to give to those who ask them, while women will give to a cause,” she said.

Make an Impact with Your Money

Men also tend to consider tax benefits when making donations while women focus on how their contributions can have an impact and are also more likely to give globally. Despite the differences, men and women both appreciate the different strengths each gender brings to the table, particularly in family foundations.

Now that women are earning more and in control of their money, they are changing more than just their own life’s path–they are also changing others’. But with open hearts and the temptation to sometimes overextend, women should take a step back and consider how and where they are giving. While there are countless worthy causes and many people in need, we must realize we cannot help them all. Instead, we should carefully consider how we could have the most effective impact.

But regardless of gender, one thing remains true for everyone.

“Until you are in control of your finances, you can’t be philanthropic,” Shaw-Hardy said.


What are your thoughts on women’s growing role in philanthropy? As your income increases, are you becoming more interested in philanthropic efforts? How do you decide which causes to donate your money to? Please share your thoughts and comments below.