Article
December 13, 2011

Why Wealthy Women Give: to Influence the Young

Wealthy women are far more likely than rich men to make charitable donations as a way to honor the legacy of someone they care about or to serve as an example to young people, according to new study released Monday by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

About a third of affluent women make donations to burnish someone else's image, while only 16 percent of men do, the study found. And more than 43 percent of women said they give to set an example for young people, but only a quarter of the men said the same.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, compared attitudes about giving among 628 men and 283 women with a household income of at least $200,000 or a net worth of at least $1-million, not counting the value of their primary residence.

Researchers said the study contradicted a "popular belief that men predominantly control philanthropic dollars within a household.  It noted that women are the sole decision maker or an equal partner in giving decisions for three out of four wealthy couples in the survey.

That finding is a sign to fund raisers "that women should be at the table," said Claire Costello, head of the Bank of America Merrill Lynch foundation. "The study helps to quantify women's philanthropic clout."

The researchers found other differences—and some similarities—between the sexes:

*  About 65 percent of the women said they volunteer for the organizations they support; only half of the men did. And 78 percent of the women said they were motivated to support charities as a way to help their community, compared with 62 percent of the men.

* The majority of both men and women said they supported the same causes year after year, but men were slightly more loyal than women: 68 percent said that they did so, while 60 percent of the women did.

* Large numbers of both groups—60 percent of women and 56 percent of men—said their biggest gifts went to provide general operating support. The next biggest recipients were specific programs, with 41 percent of women saying they earmarked gifts for a specific effort and 35 percent of men doing so.