Baby boomer and older women generally earn less, have less money in retirement and are expected to live longer than men.
Even so, they are much more likely to donate to charity and to give more generously than men, says a new Indiana University report on philanthropy.
Boomer and older women give 89% more of their total income to charity than their male counterparts when education, income, race, number of children and other factors affecting giving are equal, according to the Women Give 2012 report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
Women with more financial resources are even more generous than men with similar resources.
These women in the top 25% of “permanent” income – including salaries of $61,000 and higher and investments – give over 1.5 times more to charity than boomer and older men.
“We did find that women are more generous,” said Debra J. Mesch, institute director. “We’re not saying that women are better or men are worse, but that (charities) need to think about the differences in giving patterns and behavior of men and women.”
The study surveyed 1,109 male and female single-headed households in 2003, 2005 and 2007. They were born in 1964 or earlier and were either never married, divorced or widows or widowers. The study examines eight different giving levels from nothing to 3% or more. It also takes into account women’s longer life expectancy when figuring their permanent income levels.
So why are boomer and older women more willing to part with their money for good causes? Several factors are in play.
“It has to do with women being socialized to be the caregivers of their families and communities,” Mesch said.
Women and men have different motivations for giving. In previous institute studies, she said women score much higher on traits such as empathy and caring, which affect giving to charity.
“Their gift is the beginning of a deeper relationship with a non-profit,” said Angela White, senior consultant and CEO of Johnson Grossnickle and Associates, a local non-profit consulting firm. “Their male counterparts think of it as a financial transaction.”
She said women are thinking, “What kind of change can I make in the world? How can I make an impact? That’s more of a relationship with the non-profit.”