I am committed to growing women’s philanthropy.

Why? I’ve been in the philanthropic sector for 35 years as a woman donor, fundraiser and nonprofit leader. In that time, I’ve seen women’s power and earnings grow – and the philanthropic sector repeatedly fail to take full advantage of this new reality.

I’m frustrated that the philanthropic sector is behind the times. The consumer world has begun to adapt to the rise of women’s influence and economic clout – in their strategy, training, conversations and advertising. They know their bottom line depends on following the money and decision-makers of today – women.

In contrast, the clear majority of nonprofits and universities still use fundraising practices that either turn off women or gain only minimal support from them. So much more is possible.

What does the for profit world know that nonprofits don’t heed?

Women Are Driving Change In Business, The Workplace And The Home

Here are some facts:

The two biggest indicators for philanthropy are education and earnings. Looking at the statistics above, it stands to reason that women now have the potential for increased and influential roles in philanthropy.

I Know How I’d Like To Make a Difference, Yet…

I know these facts and I know how I’d like to make a difference. Yet I still get asked for a gift in ways that don’t resonate with me. In my sixth decade, I fully understand that like every woman, I have gender shaping and gender wounds. I have hard-won wisdom, earned from rich failures and great successes. These experiences shape me – as they do all women – as a donor and a leader. I don’t care about deadlines, or organizational goals, or what someone else gave. I want to be valued, listened to and asked my opinion. I want to be involved with others to make an impact. I want to see women represented on leadership councils and boards. When I don’t feel connected, I give small gifts out of obligation or short-term needs I see. When I feel seen by a nonprofit and known for all that I care about, my giving is bigger, it is sustained over a longer time and my involvement is deeper.

I epitomize all the research we now know – gender matters in philanthropy. Men and women have different motivations for giving and different patterns of giving. One is not better than the other; they are simply different. By not embracing the differences, we look for resources for our critical societal issues with one hand tied behind our backs, unconsciously using outdated and biased approaches that may not appeal to half our population. By embracing gendered differences we will engage more potential donors, generate more buzz for our missions and raise more money. It’s that simple.

I Declare It Is Time to See What Women Bring to Philanthropy.

The destiny of our civil society is at stake. Just look around – we see women standing up, speaking out, marching, governing, leading and taking action across the political spectrum. We are signaling the time is now. We are making new ways to contribute to the world. Women are done waiting on the sidelines.

Join My Bold Declaration

To help accelerate women’s philanthropy, I’ve put all I’ve learned into my new book, Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy, that translates research on how women give into practical action. I want every nonprofit and university to read it and then adapt their fundraising to acknowledge women’s preferences and raise more money for today and tomorrow’s challenges. Join me. Don’t miss this moment.

What Is Possible If The Engagement Of Women Became The Norm Everywhere?

When we take action to show that gender matters and adapt our strategies and behaviors to attract half of our population, we’ll stop losing the significant funding, experience, leadership, innovation and connections that women bring. We must not ignore:

It is time to focus on women as much as we do on men – as we build our strategies, hire our leaders, build our boards, coach our teams and grow our funding. Focusing on women is additive. With a new, intentional approach, we will accelerate how we can best serve our beneficiaries.

2 Responses

  1. Hello Kathleen!

    My friend and colleague at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, Amy LeViere, referred me to your website. Along with Amy, I sit on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals of the Fingers Lakes. I am the co-chair of our largest event, National Philanthropy Day. I’m writing today to gauge your interest in being our keynote speaker.
    Our luncheon is scheduled for November 16th from 12 – 2pm at Ithaca College. Are you interested? Are you available on this day? I’d love to speak with you more about this opportunity and what we are looking for.
    Kind Regards,
    Casey Keller

  2. Thank you for your inspiring session at the recent CASE D1 Conference. I am energized to research opportunities at our institution to better engage women donors.