Hell hath no fury… Wait, that’s not it. Need hath no champion like women united.
I’ve had a couple of reminders of that lately.
At one of my favorite annual events.
For at least the past four years, I’ve attended the annual grant awards luncheon of the Women’s Giving Network of Wake County. This year it was held at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh, NC.
It was a blast. The food was excellent, particularly the tomato bisque. There were about 250 women there, a few of whom I know, all of whom I wish I knew, and a great many who could give me much needed wardrobe tips. And did I mention the mimosas?
But the best part – as it has been every year I’ve attended – is hearing how these women have pooled their cash and are making game-changing investments in nonprofits that work to better the lives of local women and children.
This year they gave out six grants, each totaling $25,000. That’s a total of $150,000 for 2012 alone. And over its six-year lifetime, the network has given out over $700,000. That’s a TON of money.
It started with four women thinking and planning back in 2006 (I wonder if there were mimosas). Their idea: Recruit lots of women willing to commit $1,200 each, every year for five years. Pool that money, and then have those same women decide how to give it away to benefit their community.
Brilliant! Not only has that idea generated serious cash for serious need, it has created an army of female donors in touch with the needs of their community. There are 175 of them now – a veritable phalanx of philanthropists (sorry, couldn’t resist).
I just learned that women of a certain age (in this case, Boomers and older) are more philanthropic than men of a certain age.
Not only are they more likely to give to charity, they give more. And that holds true across all income levels. That’s according to a report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University (they’re smart and do good work over there).
Given what I saw at the Women’s Giving Network luncheon, I’m not surprised. But it does (happily) challenge the traditional notion of philanthropy: An activity engaged in by wealthy, white haired, white men.
So what does this mean?
It means that “gender matters in philanthropy” (to quote the Women’s Philanthropy Institute). And you, too, should have a strategy for harnessing and channeling the power of women’s giving on behalf of your nonprofit.
So based on some stereotypes and wild generalizations, here are a few thoughts:
- Women care (dare I say they are nurturers?). Think about how you can connect them to your mission in a way that gives them an opportunity to help, to act. In the case of the Women’s Giving Network, not only are they asked to donate, they are asked to decide exactly how their donations can best be leveraged.
- Women are doers. They organize, they plan and they execute. Let them decide how they want to participate, then give them the power and resources to run with it. That’s what the NC Community Foundation, the group’s administrative host, has done. And I’m guessing that in a couple of years, the Women’s Giving Network will pass the $1 million mark for grantmaking. Wow.
- Women are collaborative. They like working together. They are energized by other motivated, caring and energetic people. So give them opportunities to band together around a central mission and riff off each other’s ideas.
- Women have money, and they’re willing to use it. More so than their male counterparts. So don’t forget about them. Make sure your organization has a strategy for tapping into women’s generosity.
- Girls just wanna have fun…While they’re changing the world. Give women the flexibility to do it their way. The Women’s Giving Network’s luncheon is a blast. It’s a great way to spend two hours after a year of hard work. Kinda makes me think all their meetings are probably pretty fun.
My advice: Never underestimate women on a mission. Best just to stand aside and watch – or better yet, join ‘em!