6 ways of communicating with female philanthropists

Women owned 10.1 million businesses that employed 13 million people and did $1.9 trillion worth of sales a year in 2008, the last available data. Women control about 83 percent of family spending and more than 50 percent of family wealth.

“We are in control of a lot of money,” said Mary Kate Andris, philanthropy director for the Girl Scouts Council of the Colonial Coast in Chesapeake, Va.

That extends to philanthropy, she said. According to a 2009 Barclay’s study, women give nearly twice as much as men. The Philanthropy Institute’s Women Give 2010 report show that female headed households — single mothers — are more likely to give than male-headed households.

Andris presented some facts and figures on women in philanthropy, as well as some tips on how to raise funds from women, during the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 51st International Conference on Fundraising in San Antonio, Texas.

While women are more likely to give, they give in smaller amounts to more charities. That means yours will have competition, said Andris. Organizations that stand out to female philanthropists are those that are likely to impact them directly. “Women give more than men to religious institutions, organizations that help the needy, combined purposes organizations, health and medical charities, and youth and family organizations,” said Andris.

Andris said to keep the “Six C’s” in mind when marketing your organization to women.

  • Change: “Women see money as a tool for change,” said Andris. “They want to use their financial power to effect change. They don’t prefer to preserve the status quo.”
  • Create: Women are entrepreneurial, said Andris, and this is reflected in the establishment of women’s funds, “a lot of organizations where women pool money to create change,” she said. “You need to be patient. They don’t do it overnight. They have to talk it out, think it out, rework things and pool ideas.”
  • Connect: What fundraisers and female donors have in common is they both value relationships. “They need to feel invested,” said Andris. Every other month, her Girl Scouts council hosts an area leader tour, an open house of the council headquarters. “The conversations that happen in that room are incredible,” said Andris.
  • Commit: Women care about organizations that benefit them or their friends, and they’re committed to volunteering as well, said Andris. “Women are starting more and more to give not only time and talent but treasure, because they see treasure can make a difference.” Women need to be thanked: They want to be recognized as committed to your organization,” she said.
  • Collaborate: Women want to work together. They’re expert negotiators. They have a lot of practice negotiating with the most unreasonable of subjects, small children. “We’re traditionally peacekeepers,” said Andris. “For the most part we work well together and get things done on time. We’re too busy to be late.”
  • Celebrate: Finally, women love to celebrate. “We love to talk about what we did, how, how well, how it worked and how it didn’t and how we can make it better,” said Andris. “As a development officer, your job is to thank them.”

Giving circles are one of the best ways to engage female philanthropists, said Andris. They’re an excuse for women to get together, talk about what their passionate about and make a difference. They provide social, educational and engagement components that connect participants to their communities. “Approach them personally, then get them to get their friends to commit,” Andris said. “Ask them to pool their money for a greater cause. Get them together, have them create an RFP (request for proposal) and send it out to programs within your organization.”