Four Steps for Fundraising in a Covid-19 World

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on May 1st, 2020 in Thoughts & Commentary

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In these chaotic times, while we all scramble to find a share of philanthropic dollars, it is especially worthwhile to pay attention to what the research can teach us.  Consider the differences among female and male donors.

women looking at laptop

Women Give 2020, “New Forms of Giving in a Digital Age:  Powered by Technology, Creating Community,” is the latest report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and contains data that is relevant to our current struggles.  

The research is extensive in that it reflects 3.7 million gift transactions over at least a two-year period between 2016 through 2019.  At the same time, it is limited in that it included only four giving platforms:  Charity Navigator (specifically for GivingTuesday), Givelify, GlobalGiving, and Global Impact (Growfund).  One other caveat as you take in the results is that this is a long period in digital years.   

This research is actually quite timely, as development experts seem to agree on that an important component of stewarding relationships in the era of Covid-19 is the importance of technology in general, and social media, in particular.  This research is all about giving using an app or an online giving platform.  But that does not mean you should use these findings thinking about other ways folks spend their charitable dollars.

Overall, based on a variety of other studies, it would seem that women respond to social media more than men.  While almost 3/4 of adults are on social media, women are more likely than men to use at least on social media platform (78% versus 65%, respectively).  And the sexes have different platform preferences.   Women favor Facebook (posting more frequently and having larger social networks), Pinterest and Instagram; men seem to prefer Twitter.

Looking specifically at the results from the four different giving platforms, nearly 2/3 of the 3.7 million gifts that were made were from women, though the average gift size of men and women was largely the same.  Where there were differences, men’s gifts were somewhat larger.  But, taking the notably larger number of gifts that women made, women give far more money than men.  

Another key difference in giving patterns is that women are more likely to give to smaller organizations, while men seem to prefer larger organizations.  In addition, and not at all surprising, women prefer organizations that support causes and needs of importance to women and girls, sending 60% to 70% of their charitable dollars to such organizations.

There is, however, a challenge in pulling women in to partake in digital philanthropy.   While the research shows that this is a favored mode of giving, it also shows that no matter how women give, they want to feel part of a community.  (Remember their larger networks on Facebook?)  Women want to feel engaged with the organizations to which they are giving, and to feel a personal connection.  

The lessons here are easy.  One, in the era of Covid-19 and the push to rely on social media, you might want to have a special appeal just for women donors.  Two, remember, always, to value and appreciate every gift, regardless of its size.  Three, while women may be giving digitally, they want and will greatly appreciate the personal thank you.  And, four, get your board members to call your female donors.

The opinions expressed in Nonprofit University Blog are those of writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of La Salle University or any other institution or individual.