Engaging Women in Philanthropy: Practical Ways to Shift Our Approach

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Series: Creating the Conditions for Support

Everyone is trying to raise more money. Rather than simply suggest the next tactic that can boost giving in the short-term, this series offers a more intensive look at the strategic thinking that drives philanthropic support: Why do donors give? How do institutions strengthen their core and emphasize initiatives worthy of support? How do we align strategic plans, strengths, and advancement strategy to create the conditions for ongoing and sustained support? In this series, distinguished current and past chief advancement officers apply their most innovative and creative thinking to this question.

Also in this series:
Why Donors Give: It's Not What You Think
More than Dollars: How Many Opportunities are You Missing with Your Alumni?
Checklist: Questions the Governing Board Must Ask Before Launching a Campaign

by Matthew T. Lambert, William & Mary

This article at a glance:

It is imperative that we first engage women meaningfully in the life of the university. From there we can develop a strong pipeline of women leaders so that we ultimately see great increases in philanthropy. Our mantra is grow engagement, grow leadership, grow philanthropy.

Put simply, nearly half of the nation's top wealth holders are women, they are the primary breadwinners in 40% of households, they control 60% of the nation's wealth and they are the sole or equal party in 90% of philanthropic decisions (see: Do Women Give More? )

We need to do a better job of engaging women. Now. 

Aided by an expert, Kathleen Loehr, a task force at William & Mary explored the literature and best practices surrounding women and philanthropy, and in 2013 when I arrived as a new vice president, they brought me their research and recommendations. Their findings opened my eyes to the many ways that we subtly ignore women in philanthropic conversations.

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