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Women more charitable than men

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PJ staff report

Women at nearly all income levels are more likely to give to charity than men at the same income levels, and to give a lot more on average, a new study says.

In the lowest, middle and highest income brackets, women give nearly twice what men give, says Women Give 2010, a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Only in the second-lowest bracket, from $23,509 to $43,500, do women give less than men, trailing giving by men at that income level by 32 percent.

“Women may not realize they are giving more than men because their giving patterns differ,” Debra J. Mesch, director of the Institute and author of the study.

“Understanding the power of their giving may encourage more women to consider the difference they can make with their giving,” she says. “Nonprofits may see this as a reminder to pay closer attention to the philanthropic power of women and the importance of developing fundraising strategies that will appeal to their priorities.”

The Institute says the study is the first ever to compare philanthropic giving between men and women across all income levels based on a nationally representative sample.

The study is based on data from the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study, or COPPS, the largest study in the U.S. that tracks giving patterns among the same households over time.

Previous studies of gender and philanthropy have been based on data to giving by households and married couples, making it more difficult to identify the effects of gender on giving, the study says.

To examine gender differences, the new study looks only at giving by households headed by single people.

And to allow direct comparisons between men and women, it also controls for factors that affect philanthropic behavior, such as income age, race, education, number of children.

The study also compared and controlled for different types of singles.

Women who never have been married or who are divorced also are more likely to give and to give more than their men of the same marital status, although widowed men give more than widowed women, the study says.

The study also finds:

  • Female-headed households in every income group are more likely to give to charity than male-headed households.
  • Female-headed households are more likely to give than men in comparable households, and give more, except for those headed by widows or widowers.
  • Women who have never married are nearly 10 percent more likely to give than men who have never married.
  • Divorced women are 21 more likely to give than divorced men.
  • Widows are 6 percent less likely to given then widowers.
  • Widows and widowers are the most likely to give to charity.
  • Men who have never married are the least likely to give to charity.
  • Women who have never married or are divorced or separated give significantly more than their male counterparts.
  • Women who have never married give 57 percent more than men who have never married.
  • Women who are divorced or separated give 33 percent more than men who are divorced or separated.
  • Widows give roughly half as much as widowers.
  • Men who never married or are divorced or separated give the least amount to charity.

“Women are often an overlooked or untapped resource for philanthropy,” the study says. “This research shows that women at all income levels have the desire and capacity for giving and do give to charity.”

And “savvy” nonprofits and fundraisers “will change the way they approach donors, will include more women in their fundraising strategies” and will reach out to women to fulfill their mission.

“The results of the study,” it says, “will give women in ever income b racket additional confidence that they, too, are philanthropists.”

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