August 22, 2012

Older Women Are Far More Generous Than Older Men, Study Finds

Women who are in their 50s or older are far more charitable than their male counterparts, according to a new study.

Women are more likely to give a bigger share of their income to charity, and in the highest income bracket the total sums they donate are more than two times as high as men in similar circumstances: For a $100 average gift given by an older affluent man, women of similar age, income level, and other characteristics donate $256 on average, the study found.

Researchers at the Women's Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy based their findings on data provided by more than 1,100 single men and women. They compared people with similar incomes, number of children, education level, and other characteristics and grouped them by share of income donated to charity.

At every giving level, women were more likely to make donations and to give more money than men. The biggest difference was found among those who gave the most. About 19 percent of the women gave 3 percent or more of their incomes to charity, while just 11 percent of men gave that much.

Researchers say they hope the findings will change how fundraisers treat women.

"Women are still not asked to give as often as men are," says Debra Mesch, director of the Women's Philanthropy Institute.

The findings of the study, she adds, "challenge the assumption of who is philanthropic. It's not just Warren Buffett and Bill Gates."

Send an e-mail to Holly Hall.