Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy indicates gender income differences influence charitable giving, particularly among married couples. Where Do Men and Women Give? Gender Differences in the Motivations and Purposes for Charitable Giving and Do Women Give More? Findings from Three Unique Data Sets on Charitable Giving, both authored by Debra Mesch, Una Osili, Jacqueline Ackerman, and Elizabeth Dale, utilize data from the Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), the Bank of America/U.S. Trust Studies of High Net Worth Philanthropy surveys (HNW), and the Million Dollar List (MDL) to examine patterns in giving level and activity. Their analysis found that single women made more charitable contributions than their male counterparts (except in the highest net worth category) but overall, marriage increased the occurrence and dollar amount of charitable contributions.
Among those married, an increase in the husband’s income was associated with increased giving in both activity and amount, specifically to charitable organizations related to religion, basic human needs, health, and education. Married couples who shared in decision making around philanthropy also tended to give more. Still, the relationship between income, gender, and charitable giving is a complicated one. For example, when women earned more than their husbands, giving activity dropped in comparison to households where the husband’s income was higher.
Sectors supported also differed by gender, as households headed by a female were more apt to donate to youth and family, health, and international causes, while those with a male decider were more likely to give to religious and education organizations. As far as social issues however, married couples with female deciders ranked animal welfare as a top priority, while those with a male decider prioritized the arts.
Examining giving at a level deeper than the “household” may help nonprofits and charities improve engagement with current and future donors. These papers, as well as a literature review on women’s charitable giving, are available at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s website.