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Why A Women’s Philanthropy Strategy Is Important For Your Annual Fundraising Plan

How Women Give

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Did you know that each year, millions of dollars by women donors may be left unclaimed, due to the lack of understanding around the way that women give? Millions. Right at the fingertips of so many organizations moving the good work forward, and yet there is still not a greater prioritization of engaging women donors. Add to this, that during the Great Migration of Wealth, which is currently underway, it is women who will lead the way with inheriting extraordinary sums of philanthropic resources. With all of this in mind, even if it has never been a targeted approach at your organization, delving deeper into the trove of research we have about Women’s Philanthropy could be an incredible tool for your fundraising success.

Because this work is so incredibly important to me, each year, I update my own personal best practices for inclusive philanthropy.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month and beyond, here are 5 inclusive strategies to accomplish fundraising success related to women donors.

1. Change organizational culture to impact the bottom line

Know thyself. Start where you are and be realistic about the mindsets of those in leadership across your organization. Take every opportunity to reaffirm to your fundraising teams the importance of a diverse donor base which includes not only people of varying backgrounds, but women donors. Acknowledging that our society is built upon patriarchy, where does that leave the perspectives of traditional gender roles in your organization and on your team? This can include incentive structures, remembering that women’s philanthropy is part of thinking more inclusively in programming, speakers, professional development, and etc. When teams are encouraged and reminded to look beyond their usual circles, new fundraising opportunities emerge. Women give, and you want them to give to your organization! This is not only an issue of thinking differently and more inclusively, but thinking of the bottom line. Your organization needs to reach its fundraising goals, so use an innovation mindset to start small with new initiatives, track outcomes, and to use agility to build off successes.

2. Benchmarking and CRM

Lack of solid recordkeeping and full use of its nonprofit CRM is at the very top of pain points I continue to observe in the nonprofit sector. The days should be long gone that a woman receives mail without her correct name, usually due to making assumptions based upon relationships. Yet, this can still be an issue when organizations or institutions do not enact the due diligence to ensure that this simple—yet profound—step has been taken. So, leverage tools that make it possible to understand the current state of the diversity makeup of your donor base, including women donors. Tools and resources should be made available to all nonprofits regardless of their size—from donor data to automated marketing and even AI that can recommend full categories of people being left out of your donor base. Cast your net far and wide by simply breaking the mold of underusing your CRM.

3. Intentionality and intersectionality in your marketing practices

Personalize communications based on identity to attract diversity in donors and teams. Create a strategy that prioritizes the demonstrated ways that women give, for instance, engaging them in programmatic activities and building trust. Leverage accomplishments and leadership of women year round in your community to remind them that it’s important to remain inclusive, and not only in a particular month (i.e. Women’s History Month). But don’t forget to effectively celebrate March as well. When women see other women celebrated and featured, they will be more apt to engage. Be intentional and you will see more and more opportunities that intersect with successful fundraising related to women donors.

4. Authenticity = no assumptions in donor relations

As I’ve mentioned before, one important thing to remember when working towards diversifying an organization’s donor base, is never to make assumptions about donors of any background. We want to move away from a transactional model of fundraising, and while donor diversity may likely result in exceeding revenue goals, it’s also important to engage donors as human beings with philanthropic priorities, gifts, talents, potentially fresh outlooks on life, and the desire for good work to be done in the world.

5. Proven practices: Connect women’s philanthropy strategies to fundraising impact

Most importantly, we must connect women’s philanthropy strategies directly to fundraising impact through data, research, and success stories. There is a plethora of research available in this area, and last spring, a trove of incredibly important information was released from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy. You can find it here at the Proven Practices website.

How does your organization attract and engage women donors? Let us know in the comments. 

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