By Beth Briggs
A friend recently asked why there is so much buzz about women’s giving. She remarked that women as philanthropist is not a new concept.
Traditionally, women assume the role of nurturers and caregivers, giving countless hours, a vast array of talents, skills, ideas and enough money to have real impact.
Philanthropy is the glue that holds communities together and women are masters in the authentic spirit of contributing time, talent and treasure.
Schools and churches could not function without the generosity of women. Imagine a community event, celebration, birth, death, school concert or church social without their donation of food and encouragement.
Those things will never change. However, change happens.
This country is being transformed by what trend-watcher Faith Popcorn calls the “Eve-olution” of America.
Higher education and financial independence are advancing women’s traditional roles at an accelerated rate: U.S. women control over 51.3 percent of privately held wealth and represent 41.2 percent of the top wealth holders in this country with a combined net worth of $2.2 trillion, according to the IRS.
Contributing factors include increased numbers of women in the workforce, higher percentages of female professionals, a significant proportion of single women, and inheritance that will continue to grow due to the projected $40 trillion intergenerational transfer of wealth.
Research shows that women on average live seven years longer than their husbands, and 85 percent to 90 percent of women are left in charge of the family financial affairs.
Women are empowered and today’s philanthropy reflects their giving.
Women give from their heart and mirror their personal passion, experience and values. Happiness, friendships and satisfaction are key factors leading to women’s altruism. An invitation to participate coming from a trusted friend or respected associate usually results in a deeper commitment.
Clarity of mission and vision typically influence the extent of their contributions. Females connect to organizations at an emotional level, expecting return and impact from their philanthropic investments.
They usually give time to an organization before they give money, and monitor the organization’s stability.
Sondra Shar and Martha Taylor, in their book “Reinventing Fundraising: Realizing the Potential of Women in Philanthropy,” describe women’s engagement in philanthropy with the six Cs.
They state that women use their giving to create, change, connect, collaborate, commit and celebrate.
The buzz about women’s philanthropy is the result of an increased number of connections and networks forming around the state to create change, particularly around issues affecting women and children.
Women are taking an increased leadership role because they are tired of sitting back and waiting for the world to change.
As the poet June Jordan wrote, and Sweet Honey in the Rock put to music: “We (women) are the ones we have been waiting for.”
Beth Briggs is president of Creative Philanthropy in Raleigh, N.C., and works to advance the understanding, practice and development of philanthropy in the state.