General News

New Study Finds Generosity Links Women Across Race and Ethnicity

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute is the first to explore race and giving through a gender lens.

A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), Women Give 2019: Gender and Giving Across Communities of Color, offers insights on the intersection of race, giving and gender. The study finds that generosity is a value shared by all communities, and that women across races and ethnicities are leading through philanthropy.

The report found that households across all racial groups give to charity and a donor’s race does not have a significant effect on the amount given, after adjusting for factors such as wealth, income and education. Gender patterns previously identified by WPI—specifically, that single women and married couples are more likely to give than single men—hold true within each of the communities studied (African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, and White households were included in the analysis). The report, which is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, demonstrates the unique perspectives women of color bring to philanthropy and underscores the importance of understanding and engaging donors from diverse backgrounds.

“Women Give 2019 highlights the universality of giving. Women in communities of color may take different pathways to their philanthropy—learning from their families or religious traditions, or starting to give later in life. But the act of giving their time, talent, and treasure is consistent for women across race and ethnicity,” said Debra J. Mesch, Ph.D., the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.

Key findings from Women Give 2019 include:

  • Households across all racial groups give. A substantial portion of all racial groups give to charity, and high net worth households are especially likely to give.
  • Households across all racial groups give to similar causes, including both religious and secular causes. Religion and basic needs are the top two causes supported across race and income.
  • A donor’s race does not have a significant effect on the amount given to charity, when taking income and other factors into account. When factors known to affect giving (such as wealth, income, and education) are taken into consideration, and giving is measured as a percentage of income, race does not appear to affect the amounts that households donate. Other demographics, such as income and wealth have a stronger impact on household giving amounts.
  • Overall gender differences in giving appear consistent across racial groups. For all groups, single women are more likely than single men to give to charity; married and cohabiting couples are more likely than either single men or single women to give to charity.
  • Formal volunteering shows greater racial and ethnic gaps. Communities of color appear to be less engaged in formal volunteering. Other research has shown that informal volunteering rates (giving time, but not via a formal program or organization) are higher in communities of color.

“This year’s Women Give report raises awareness that the generous philanthropy that takes place in diverse communities often goes unrecognized. Women in communities of color can see themselves and their experiences reflected in this empirical research about generosity. To overcome outdated stereotypes of who a philanthropist is, the philanthropic sector must be more intentional about embracing and including diverse perspectives and approaches,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs and dean’s fellow for the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Women Give 2019 uses data from both the Philanthropy Panel Study and from the U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy. WPI also conducted case study interviews to supplement findings with real-life experiences of women philanthropists in communities of color. Across the board, the women described how their giving has been shaped by their racial and gender identities — and often by both at the same time.

Women Give 2019 is the tenth in a series of signature research reports conducted at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute that focus on gender differences in giving to charitable organizations. Each report explores unique questions about the factors that shape gender-based giving patterns—including age, religion, income, marital status and more—in order to increase understanding about how gender influences philanthropy. The Women Give reports are available at:

WPI released the study today at a national launch event in Chicago sponsored by Bank of America Private Bank.

Dianne Chipps Bailey, National Practice Executive, Philanthropic Solutions at Bank of America Private Bank and a WPI Council member said, “Bank of America Private Bank is committed to expanding empirical research, deepening awareness about philanthropy, and providing philanthropic solutions for individuals, families and institutions. We knew, from our long-standing productive relationship with the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, that this new research by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute will elevate and enhance the national conversation about the many ways women express their generosity.”

In conjunction with the report release, WPI partnered with the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Facebook to create the “Who Is A Philanthropist?” video series, which spotlights how diverse women are giving back to their communities in unique ways. The videos are available (link forthcoming), and all are encouraged to join the #IAmAPhilanthropist conversation on social media.

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