Women and Philanthropy

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Women and Philanthropy

Last month, I was honored to host two of San Diego’s leading women philanthropists, Linda Katz and Gayle Tauber, to discuss the role of women and philanthropy. They shared their own experiences as philanthropists, what led them to establish Women Give San Diego and the role that development directors and nonprofit organizations can play in cultivating relationships with philanthropists.

Linda Katz has been a long-time community leader, volunteer and donor who got her start by volunteering with her mom in the local senior center as a Candy Striper. Thirty-five years ago, she and her best friend crashed the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary membership recruitment reception because they wanted to get involved. A few years ago, Linda joined United Way because she felt they needed more women and diversity on their board.

Gayle Tauber founded a company, Kashi Cereal, out of her own kitchen in 1983 that she and her husband sold to Kellogg in 2000. Now she is the CEO of the Seedling Fund, a family-investment company that takes positions in the first stage of companies.

So, why is it important to understand women as philanthropists?

A study at the University of Indiana found that:

  • Fact: Baby Boomer and older women give 89 percent more (almost twice as much), to charity than men.
  • Fact: Boomer and older women are more likely to give to charity and give more than their male counterparts when other factors affecting giving are taken into consideration.

The 2012 Bank of America Study of High Wealth Philanthropy found that:

  • Fact: Because they live longer than men, women could oversee more than $41 trillion passed from generation to generation during the next 50 years.

Gayle and Linda shared the characteristics and giving preferences of women philanthropists: “We give where we volunteer.” Women philanthropist want to invest their time and talent. They also want to know how their donation is making a positive impact in the nonprofit organization. Katz stated, “I want to be part of an organization who values mirror my values.” They advise fundraisers to let women donors know the good that you are doing.

Since I was moderating the panel, I had to ask the millionaire (literally!) dollar question:

What is your advice for the fundraisers in the room for how to best cultivate relationships with female philanthropists?

Linda encouraged fundraisers to be inclusive of the wife in the solicitation. One of the organizations with which she volunteered heavily – and even chaired its major gala, – solicited only her husband for a major gift instead of including Linda and soliciting the couple together.

Match the style of your female philanthropist. Note if they are a fast speaker, if they dress casually or formally. Listen to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Katz said, “Hear it because there is a nugget you can use in there and often we don’t listen enough.”

Engage women in the mission of your organization, start at the top by engaging women in the leadership at the board level, and engage women in creative and meaningful ways like through women’s giving councils.

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