Giving To Women & Girls Hit $7.1 Billion

The nearly 47,000 nonprofits in the United States dedicated to women and girls received a collective $7.1 billion in charitable contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations during 2017, or 1.6% of overall giving. Philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations grew 36.4% from 2012 to 2017, on par with other charitable organizations, but certain types of organizations -- including those focused on reproductive rights and family and gender-based violence -- experienced outsized growth.

Those are among the findings in a new study “The Women & Girls Index (WGI) 2020: Measuring Giving to Women’s and Girls’ Causes,” from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. This year’s report offers the first multi-year look at how philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations has changed in recent years.

“While women’s and girls’ organizations saw steady growth in philanthropic support from 2012 to 2017, contributions to these organizations continue to comprise a relatively small share of overall charitable giving. For any organization or donor invested in women and girls, the WGI provides powerful empirical data and stories of growth and challenges that can help the sector work collectively to address gaps in funding,” said Debra Mesch, Ph.D., Professor of Philanthropic Studies and Eileen Lamb O'Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The report includes data from four types of women’s and girls’ organizations, including Girls Who Code, NARAL Pro-Choice America, She’s the First, and YWCA USA. It also provides a first look at government grants to women’s and girls’ causes, indicating that government funding has been an important source of revenue for some WGI organizations.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women and particularly women of color. In light of this, women’s and girls’ causes -- particularly those addressing the intersection of race, gender and other areas of inequality -- will need more resources. The WGI’s insights can kick-start discussion and action to generate philanthropic support for these critical organizations,” said Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. 

Key findings include: 

  • Philanthropic support for organizations dedicated to women and girls increased by 36.4% -- similar to the rate of growth in philanthropic support for other charitable organizations -- from 2012 to 2017. Growth in philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations was especially strong in 2017 (9.4%).
  • While philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations increased across the board from 2012 to 2017, particular types of organizations -- such as those focused on reproductive health and family and gender-based violence -- saw especially strong growth. Support for reproductive rights organizations increased 85.2% from 2012 to 2017, and 33.7% in 2017 alone— more than triple the rate of other WGI organizations (9.4%).
  • Government grants to women’s and girls’ organizations increased by 34.4% from 2012 to 2017, significantly more than the 14.6% rate of growth in government grants to other charitable organizations. Other financial measures like revenue, assets, and expenses grew more slowly for women’s and girls’ organizations during this time.
  • Philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations reached $7.1 billion in 2017, but still represents a small share of overall charitable giving (1.6%). Women’s and girls’ organizations make up 3.4% of all charitable organizations.
  • Although the composition of women’s and girls’ organizations based on nonprofit subsector and mission focus largely held steady in 2017, organizations dedicated to general and reproductive health received an increased share of philanthropic support.

The full report and visual summary are available here.