Smart Giving: An Introduction To Philanthropy

When it comes to finances, women have made great strides. We discuss our salaries, we open Roth IRAs, and chatting about bonuses is no longer taboo during your brunch catch-ups with friends. Yet when it comes to philanthropy, women seem to be quieter about what we are involved in and where we donate our funds. We usually designate our money for spending or saving, but what about giving?

Philanthropy and women go hand in hand. Research proves that we give more than men. As women, we often use our purses to hold all the things we need when we head out the door. I want to ask women to start thinking how we can use that power—to open our purses for good and to think about where money can be most helpful. The ways to give listed below provide a few examples of different initiatives that use the positive power of your purse.

1. Women’s Council

 They hold different names amongst different causes but they come back to a basic core principle: a key network of women who are focused on a shared cause. If you are looking to network, give back and perhaps find a mentor, you should look into this type of donor group within a nonprofit.  Most charitable causes will task their Women’s Council with advocating, fundraising and volunteering for the organization. Members are often given access to exclusive events and the opportunity to meet philanthropic leaders within the community.

2. Giving Circles

Yes, it's just what you think it is: women pooling their funds together to give with a bigger, more powerful impact.  The group decides where funds should be donated and often use their combined giving to create big gifts.  Giving circles were started by women (see page 5), and over time has become a common philanthropy initiative. Joining a giving circle can allow you the opportunity to give more, strategize with other women and make an impact.

3. Generational Giving

Chances are your mother or grandma was involved as a volunteer or donor to a nonprofit at some point. The causes your family values are often passed on through the generations, and many women look toward the matriarch of the family to learn about nonprofit involvement. Nonprofits, in turn, look toward generational giving to keep families involved and build a pipeline of donors. Generational giving creates a legacy of giving, in addition to a deep and personal knowledge of the nonprofit. Next time your mom says she has a volunteer meeting, ask to tag along and see if you might like to follow in your family's footsteps within that organization.

4. Next-Gen Giving

Millennial women are often highly educated and busy making our own money. As we consider where to allocate our funds, we are being solicited by many causes to give both time and money. Women are a powerful resource, and getting to know the younger members of the workforce encourages a mutually beneficial involvement for both sides.  Your individual gift makes a difference.  When you make a donation to a non-profit, you are building a relationship with that organization and using your wallet for good. 

Alison Hoffer