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Civic Impact

Battle of the sexes extends to charitable giving patterns

Canadian women have different motivations and strategies for charitable giving than men do, according to a research paper by Investor Economics and TD.
“Men tend to write cheques quickly, while women will want to build relationships with the organization they’re giving to, they’ll want to do more due diligence before writing the cheques,” says Jo-Ann Ryan, who leads the Philanthropic Advisory Services team within TD’s Wealth Advisory Services.
Ryan hosted two GTA events last week as part of a national series to encourage women to talk about issues raised in the report, called Time, Treasure, Talent: Canadian Women and Philanthropy.

“We’ve been talking about how charities can engage women, how they can engage more women, how to evaluate a charity, how to get different generations involved, including what  Millennials are looking for in charities, and why boards of charities are still predominantly men when women are the majority of donors,” says Ryan.
Many of the women who participated in focus groups for the research were serious philanthropists offering substantial support to the organizations they back. Looking at members of households in the highest income brackets, the report suggests that between 300,000 and 350,000 women in Canada—about four per cent of Canadian female tax filers—have access to both the financial resources and the desire needed to make a major gift to a charity.
But it's not just high earners who make a difference. “In 2012, Canadian women donated approximately $3 billion to charities in Canada, almost $1.1 billion more than Canadian women contributed in 2002,” states the report. “Not only did women, as a community, contribute more… a greater number of women made charitable contributions.”
That’s a lot of cash and should be reflected in how charities attract and work with donors. The report suggests that women are more likely than men to think of charities as “change agents within society” and are more likely to think that charities make a difference.
“The most important motivators for Canadian women were a desire to help those in need and a belief in the work undertaken by specific charities. It was clear from the survey data that women were far more likely than men to support family members and friends who were fundraising on behalf of a charity.”
Some stereotypes hold up. While women in Canada tend to focus on health-related causes (other than hospitals) and social services, men are more likely to donate to sports and recreation-focused charities.
“There was no single dominant motivator that encouraged [the Canadian women who participated in the research] to transition from being passive observers of the world around them to individuals focused on changing and improving that world,” states the report. “It was also apparent, despite the fact that all the women who participated in this research were by definition financially successful, that their philanthropy was not primarily defined in financial terms, but rather in terms of effort, commitment and a basic desire to help others by sacrificing as much of their own personal resources and time as possible.”
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Jo-Ann Ryan
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