Women and men make their giving decisions differently. In this webinar, Judith Smith, CFRE covers research regarding women and philanthropy and how it might apply to our work.

Full Transcript:

Steven:All right, Judi. My watch just struck 1:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?

Judi:Sounds terrific.

Steven:All right. Well, good afternoon, everyone, if you are on the East Coast and good morning if you’re on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Women and Giving.” My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.

Just a couple of housekeeping items for everyone, just want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation and I’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon. So if you have to leave early or perhaps you want to review the content later on or share with a friend, you’ll be able to do that. Just wait for an email from me with all those goodies. I’ll get that out to you today, I promise.

You can follow along today on Twitter. If you’re a Twitter person, use the #Bloomerang or send us a tweet directly @bloomerangtech. Love for you talk to us on Twitter. We’d also love for you to talk to us in the chat window right there on your webinar screen. We’re going to save some time for Q&A at the end. So as you’re listening today, feel free to send us your questions and your comments and we’ll try to get to as many of those as we can before the 2:00 Eastern hour.

One last technical note, if you have any trouble with the audio, try switching to dialing in by phone. If you’re listening via your computer, these webinars are usually only as good as your own Internet connection, and we have found that the audio by phone is usually much better. So if you have a phone nearby and don’t mind calling in, try doing that if you have any trouble. That’s usually the best way to alleviate most issues. You’ll find a phone number in the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour ago.

If this is your first webinar with us, I just want to say special welcome. We do, do these webinars just about every Thursday. We have a great guest on to give a great educational presentation, but in addition to that, if you’re not familiar with Bloomerang, we offer donor management software. So if you’d like to learn more about us or see our offerings, just go to our website. You can click the demo button and even view a quick video demo, don’t even have to talk to anyone on our sales team if you don’t want to yet. So love for you to check that out and learn more about us if you’re interested.

But for now, I am super excited to introduce today’s guest. She’s been a longtime friend of Bloomerang and really excited to have Judi Smith with us. How’s it going, Judi?
Judi:It’s going great, going great.
Steven:Judi is joining us by phone from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She hails from Arizona, and I just want to brag on Judi for a little bit. If you don’t know her, she is currently the Director of Planned Giving at the Arizona Community Foundation. She’s worked at a lot of different gigs. She was a consultant for a long time. She’s kind of back in the direct fundraising role.

She was an executive director, she’s been a board member, she’s been a past president of the St. Louis Planned Giving Council. A very experienced fundraiser, and we get a lot of requests to hear from active fundraisers, not just consultants, so I’m really excited for Judi to tell us all her thoughts about female donors and how to sort of engage them. So Judi, I’m going to pipe down and give you the floor, so take it away, my friend.
Judi: First of all, I’m glad to be here, and women and philanthropy is our topic today. I always like to start with a little bit of history, just to put things in context. I don’t know whether we have any Harvard alums on the phone, but Harvard started in 1636 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth legislature or whatever it was called at that time, the governing body, had approved the college, but they didn’t have funds to start it. And a minister named John Harvard died and left half of his estate and his library to begin the college.
So it started in 1636 and it hadn’t been going very long before the trustees realized that there was a real need for scholarships. A lot of the sons of the farmers around in Massachusetts would love to have been able to send their sons to Harvard, but didn’t have the resources. So they went back to the motherland. We were still a colony, obviously. And they talked to Lady Mowlson. Her husband had been, I think, a grocer, but some kind of a small businessman.

When he died, the custom, or maybe it was even a law at the time, was that the wife got half the estate. So she got half the estate, she kept the business, she grew it, and she was wealthy. Some of the trustees from Harvard talked to her and told her about the need for scholarship, so she endowed their first scholarship. Now, almost 150 years later, when Harvard was getting ready to turn what it called its Women’s Annex into a college, they decided to name it after their first female benefactor. Lady Mowlson’s name was Ann Radcliffe, and I’m sure you’ve heard of Radcliffe College. So this is, not to be a little tongue in cheek here, but it only took 150 years to recognize Lady Mowlson for her generosity in setting up the first scholarship.

I’m going to jump ahead to early in the last century. If we have any Girl Scouts or former Girl Scouts in here, you’ve probably heard of Juliette Gordon Low. Juliette Gordon Low also was widowed by a wealthy husband. She was a Savannah, Georgia girl, and as an upper-class young lady in the late 1800s, her education consisted of French and needlepoint and music and painting and so on. After she was widowed, she traveled to England and she met Lord Baden-Powell, who had started the Boy Scouts in England.
About the time that she was there visiting with Lord Baden-Powell, girls were sort of trying to crash the Boy Scouts because they liked what they were doing. It was outdoors, it was camping, it was hiking, it was nature, and so, he started the Girl Guides. Well, Juliette Gordon Low, who was known as Daisy, was sympathetic to that interest and being outside and in nature, so she returned to Savannah and in 1912 she started a Girl Guide organization in Savannah and then in 1913, changed the name to the Girl Scouts. And, of course, we have the Juliette Gordon Low World Fund, I believe, today, which continues her philanthropy.

Then, of course, I know we all know who Eleanor Roosevelt was. She was one of the early popular, well-known celebrities to head a campaign when she chaired the March of Dimes to cure polio during her husband’s presidency. And, of course, she also was from a wealthy family. Teddy Roosevelt, who had been President at the turn of the century, was her uncle. So she had had lots of experience with philanthropy and volunteering.

But one of the reasons I picked Eleanor Roosevelt, not only did she encourage philanthropy, but when she was President, or she was First Lady, sorry, her husband was President, she started holding a weekly press conference. She decreed that at her press conference, only women reporters were allowed. And, of course, this was during the Depression, because I believe he had four terms or nearly four terms in office. That kept women not only employed professionally as reporters, but it also got them off the society page where they were just writing about fashion and cooking.

So I think we have to give a little nod to Eleanor Roosevelt. Now, if we were asked to name female philanthropists today, Oprah Winfrey would certainly come to mind, Melinda Gates, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In fact, “Forbes” did an article, I think it was in 2014, where they named the top 15 female philanthropists in the US. And most of them were women who were married to men who were captains of industry and they were keeping the couple’s philanthropy going.
My own level of expertise is certainly as a fundraiser, not a researcher, so I try to take other people’s research and apply it as appropriate. I would have to say that unfortunately, I have not worked with the Oprahs or the Melinda Gates of the world. Most of the female philanthropists I’ve worked with have either been ordinary people who have just been careful and conservative and philanthropic, or certainly high net worth.

I don’t know that I have worked with that many ultra-high net worth, but I do try to apply some of the research. And we’ll talk a little bit about some of that research out there. But the three names that I’ve listed there on your slide are names that if you’re at all interested in women and philanthropy, you should know. Sondra Shaw-Hardy, who with Martha Taylor founded the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and then Margaret May Damen, who about 10 years or so ago, started taking a look at Boomer women.
But before we get to current day, I’m going to take you back to the ’90s. And actually, the ’90s really started in the ’70s because it took about 20 years for a couple of things that I think are important that happened in the ’70s to start transitioning into philanthropy. Most of you know what Title IX is. It’s said that there couldn’t be gender discrimination, and all of a sudden, if you were in school anywhere in the 1970s, you were starting to see women’s sports. And Title IX is very often associated with women and athletics.

Interestingly enough, it was also the year that the push for the Equal Rights Amendment began. The Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified by enough states to make it an amendment to the Constitution, but there was a lot of visibility, a lot of conversation, a lot of publicity, both pro and con, in the ’70s about the Equal Rights Amendment. And about 20 years later, between the visibility created by the Equal Rights Amendment, the visibility created by Title IX, all of a sudden, we started to see women’s foundations and women’s giving circles.

This is where Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor come in. They started a giving circle at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And very often when you see their names, you’ll hear about the six Cs. In fact, you’ve probably encountered those somewhere along the way. This is what they decided were the motivations for women’s giving. And I’ll go over them a little bit, but there’s a link down at the bottom where you can get more elaboration on them.

But they decided that women like to create, and I think that’s true. I think women generally consider themselves creative and are willing to take a chance on something. They also like change. Women love to connect, absolutely love to connect. And not to be stereotypical here, but women are also willing to commit. Women love to collaborate, and when they’ve done a good job, we’re the first ones to celebrate. Think about who is usually the person to give the pat on the back in your office or “Oh, did you know so-and-so had a grandbaby? Let’s take her to lunch.” It’s usually a woman who’s organizing that celebration.

And because they did their six Cs in the mid-90s, they updated it after the turn of the century and they added to those six Cs, women like to control their giving, women have confidence in their giving, and women are courageous in their giving. I’ve got a slide at the end that lists sort of a bibliography if you’re interested in more information about Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor.
Now, at the turn of the millennium, I know you have all heard of the Boston College study that predicted the $41 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer by the end of 2052. After that study came out, many states and even some cities started trying to figure out “Well, what is my share of the pie?” And somewhere along and early in the 21st century, I think there became a new awareness of who was ultimately probably going to control most of that wealth. And I didn’t coin the phrase, but I like it because it’s reflective, I think, but there’s a pink gap. Life expectancy for women in last year, 2016, was 81.2 years. For men, the average life expectancy last year was 76.4. So it’s not quite five years’ difference.
Whether women inherit from a family member, from a husband, from parents, they tend to live longer than men and very often, it’s the woman at the end of life who is making the decision about assets that maybe weren’t assets that they completely controlled all of their lives. Well, at the same time this was happening, Boomer women were starting to come into their own, and Hardy and Taylor affiliated with Indiana University. If you don’t know the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, you should definitely go on the Lilly School of Endowments website at Indiana University.

They do studies every year. And the study that they did in 2016 is a study of generational differences, and it really, we’re not going to talk too much about that today because it goes into Gen X and Millennials and most of my conversation today is going to be about Boomers and Matures or Silent Generation. But you should definitely know about Gen X, so I’ve given you that reference later on. Anyway, Margaret May Damen started studying how Boomer women were changing philanthropy, and that’s certainly valid.

We were eclipsed by the Millennials in numbers late in 2016, but until then, we were the largest demographic in the country, with 10,000 of us turning 65 every day. So here are some similarities and differences. So if you’re a fundraiser, if you can possibly think about someone that you’ve worked with as a family where you know the Boomer women and you also know the Boomer women’s mother. And so try to think about these things in the context of someone that you know.

If you’re talking to a Boomer woman, she is less likely to consult a man about giving. Her mother, on the other hand, is very likely to consult an advisor. It might be a male relative, it might be her bank trust officer, it might even be her son. Now, that’s not to say that Boomer women who are giving major gifts, if they have a partner or a spouse, don’t consult their partner. But there’s usually a level at which they can write a check without even having a conversation with that person. A Boomer woman is more likely to feel an ownership in her wealth. And these are Judiisms, by the way. This is not any kind of research. This is just what I’ve encountered in my own dealing with donors.
So a Boomer woman is likely to think she made the money, she can give the money where she wants to and doesn’t necessarily have to talk with anyone about it, whereas a Boomer woman’s mother is likely to feel a partnership in that wealth. Perhaps she stayed home and took care of the children or perhaps she’d had a job in education that didn’t pay very much and her spouse was the one. But she still feels like a partner in that wealth, but she doesn’t necessarily feel control.

A Boomer woman, I believe, is very receptive to a conversation about changing any philanthropic plans that she and her partner or spouse may have established. I think they tend to keep that window open, whereas Silent Generation women are much less likely to alter the philanthropic plans that they established as a couple. If you look at their wills or trusts, they’re usually mirroring wills or trusts and the second to die inherits everything and whatever philanthropic provisions were in there are typically retained by the woman.

The Boomer woman is also more willing to attach her name to something philanthropic, whereas if you were asking her mother, she might want to put her husband’s name on it or even if her husband had nothing to do with it, she still might put both of their names on it. And I’ve even had some of those Silent Generation women tell me that it’s just not appropriate to give money away and take credit for it. So there are some differences that . . . these are Judi notes. They are not validated by anything scientific.

Now, I wanted to share with you a case study because back in 2006, if you can remember back that far, women’s giving circles and women in philanthropy were really hot topics. The economy had kind of settled down. It seemed like we were over the turmoil of 2001 and 2002 with the tech stocks, and of course, we hadn’t had 2008 yet. About that time, I was asked to start a women’s giving circle, and it was for a national foundation. And most of the women who were leaders of this organization were not necessarily donors.

Some of them certainly had responsible professional positions, some of them were married to business and community leaders and leaders in the organization, but most of them wouldn’t qualify for the high net worth level that the US Trust puts in. And I believe that benchmark is annual income of $200,000 and investable income, of which would, of course, not include their home, of at least a million dollars. So I was dealing with people of importance to the organization, but not necessarily high net worth. Not only that, they were scattered around the country.

So I decided that they needed to formulate the direction for doing this, but before they could formulate, they needed some education. So we started a book club and we read lots of different books. And I just picked this one book on a whim. I have no idea why, now that in retrospect, why I even got it, but I got this book called “How to Get Rich Selling Cars and Trucks to Women,” and that was the book that resonated most with these woman leaders that we had pulled together to start a giving circle. It is not a book about philanthropy. It’s just exactly what it is. It tells how to sell cars and trucks to women.
But there are so many parallels to fundraising opportunities and conversations, and just start with the basic one. For all of you women out there on the phone, if you’ve ever bought a car and you’ve taken a man with you, whether it’s boyfriend, a husband, a brother, whether you’ve taken a guy with you or not, think about how often the salesperson has talked to the man instead of you. I can’t tell you how many times, when we’ve bought a car for me, my husband would redirect the sales person and say “It’s her car, ask her,” because they just tend to gravitate toward talking to the man.
So I want you to check yourself the next time you’re having a conversation with a couple about your organization. Are you actually talking to both of them? Do you shake hands with both of them? Do you thank both of them? When you reschedule for going back, do you reschedule with both of them? It’s really important, and I think maybe just because this book is written in such simple language, that’s why it resonated so much with them.

Here are some of the section titles in the books, and you can see that it’s what we do. “It’s the Relationship,” “Not until She Trusts You,” then it talks about how men and women are different in how they relate to people, how they express themselves, how they process information. “Think Relationship before Product,” boy, is that ever a message to those of us who do planned giving. We should not go in thinking charitable gift annuity or charitable lead trust.

We should be thinking about what the donors’ needs are. Is it an income need? Is it an income tax situation? Is it an estate tax situation? But so many of us are thinking about the product instead of the relationship. And it’s easy to do that if you’re in a capital campaign, too, because you’re thinking “Oh, they would love to have the kitchen or the donor lounge” or whatever, but it’s the relationship that’s important.

Another downfall that I think sometimes we think of those fundraisers is, especially if the woman is not currently employed, if she’s retired or is a homemaker, we think that she has all the time in the world. She’s probably just as busy as we are. And so being courteous and asking about their time is important. “Getting to Know Their Story” is critical. And, boy, “Turn Your Presentation into a Conversation,” how many of you sort of say the same thing over and over again, whether you’re talking about scholarships or your new campaign or your annual fund, and you sort of sound like a broken record? If you make it a conversation instead of a presentation, it gets such much better results.

Even “Don’t Allow a No to End the Process,” all nos don’t mean no. They may mean not now, but you need to qualify that. So here are some of the parallels that we found in that book, and obviously, this is not going to be true of every woman or every man. I don’t mean to stereotype here. These are generalities and broad brushes. And for everything that we say “Oh, this is more like a woman and this is more like a man,” we can all think of examples where that’s not the case.
But in general, women are influenced by how they are treated. They are, in essence, buying or formulating the relationship, where men tend to be about the product and about the deal. So and again, that’s interesting when you’re having a conversation with a couple because you have to treat them both equally, but you may have to have different conversations with each one over the course of the visit. Women make their . . . well, women have a process for reaching a decision, and that may involve independent research, it may involve talking to their friends and family, it may involve calling another organization, whereas for men, it tends to be pretty longer. So think of women as being circuitous and men just sort of a bee line.

Women do tend to take longer to make decisions, and I know that you know that if you’re fundraisers out there, whereas men tend to make a decision more quickly, but they may make a yes or no decision this time, but just because they said yes this time doesn’t mean they will next time, whereas women tend to, once they’re with you, they sort of stay with you. And women tend to be more interested in what their gifts will do for projects or people that are important to them, where men tend to be more interested in how it works. So wow, a lot to think about just in that slide.

Here’s one about differences in how men and women process info. And that first one was a revelation to me, and, of course, I’ve had several years now to reflect on how true it is. But if you’re a woman, you may be nodding at the computer right now. You may be talking with your hand. Women tend to nod just sort of encouragingly to indicate that they’re listening, whereas men nod to indicate agreement. So can you see the problem here? If a man is talking to a woman and she’s nodding, he thinks she’s agreeing with him, whereas she may just be listening actively. So that one was a huge revelation to me.

Women tend to expand the process by seeking options and opinions, whereas men tend to sort of peel the onion and they try to eliminate all the factors that are distractors and just focus on the key point. Again, completely different conversations. Women are comfortable asking for help and admitting they don’t know. They see themselves as students. We all know men don’t like to ask for directions. I mean, I traveled in four states once because the gentleman driving the car wouldn’t stop and ask where we were. So men do see themselves as masters of a situation and will not necessarily seek help.

Here are some other parallels about the no. We’re often told no a lot, but we may not know what that no really means. So my suggestion is to accept the no. We certainly don’t want to pressure anyone, but try to keep the door open for future conversation, keep inviting them to events. And this is a great one, is to ask them for feedback about how you could present this project differently to someone else so you can do a better job. That’s a terrific opportunity, if you can handle it.
Here are some different ways to think about talking to women. I hope that you’ve never said “We’ve never done that,” but we probably all have said that when things are asked of us that we’ve never done. But if we can soften it a little and say “Well, let me just check to see if we can do that.” Sometimes people will, because they have this canned presentation in their head, they’ll say “Well, here are the three things you need to know,” whereas with a woman, it’s more important to get permission to talk about the project, and rather than telling them “You need to know this,” just talking about the project without saying “You need to know this.”

I know I’m guilty of this all the time. “Remind me to give you our brochure before you leave,” rather than asking “Would you like some printed information to take with you?” Because everybody doesn’t want paper or brochures hanging around. Trying to be helpful, instead of saying “Well, I’ll send you a form that you can fill out,” to say “You know, after you’ve looked over the information, maybe we can fill it out together and get it submitted.” It’s just a different way that will help build a stronger relationship with women.

So you’re probably thinking “Okay, so why do we really care?” I think I’ve already demonstrated through the pink gap that very often in a couple, it’s going to be the woman who makes the final decision. This next one is pretty important. Boston College, as part of their intergenerational wealth transfer study, indicated that women would inherit about 70% of that. So again, it’s critical that we’re talking to women. I also think it’s critical that we recognize the generational differences as well as the gender differences. And interestingly enough, at all levels of income, women do donate a larger percentage of their income to charity than men or couples. So that’s also an interesting consideration.

Obviously, we still have gaps. During her lifetime, a woman is going to earn about 22% less than a man, and at the very top of leadership, there are only 23 CEOs out of the Fortune 500 who are women. So we all know that there are gaps, but I think if we think about how we can approach it and apply it, we’ll all be better fundraisers.
So these are just some things to just put on your little self-check list and think about. When you’re talking to a couple, do you really make a conscious effort to look at and talk to both of them? And I know sometimes it’s hard because of where they tell you to sit. I was doing a presentation earlier this week and the woman was on my right on the couch and the man was across from me in a chair, and I had to sort of position myself catty corner so I could talk to both of them, otherwise it would have been too easy to just talk to the man.

Again, this was such a revelation to me. I’m guessing that it’s a revelation to everyone else, but nodding in a woman does not necessarily mean agreement. So I think that’s an important thing to notice when you’re talking to a woman, just because she’s nodding, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s agreeing. Gently trying to find out the why behind the no, is it just that it’s a bad day? Is it something major in life? Is it that they don’t have time right now? Is it that they maybe love your organization, but they’re just not into this project? If you can get to the why behind the no, I think we’ll all be better fundraisers.
I think if you were writing a grant, you wouldn’t hesitate to call the granting organization and ask for feedback if your proposal wasn’t funded, but I think it’s rather rare for us as fundraisers, if we’ve asked for an individual gift, to ask the couple or individual who turned us down to advise us on how we could do a better job in explaining it to someone else. But I think that gives you such credibility that you really are interested in trying to do a good job that it’s worth it to do that. There’s that old adage that says “If you ask for advice, you get money. If you ask for money, you get advice.” This is a way of asking for advice, and I would strongly encourage it.

I would also ask you to check yourself and think about the timeline. Women are going to take longer. It would be a rare female who would listen to your proposal and make a decision, unless it was no, but make a yes decision immediately, because she’s going to want to talk to people and check some things out and maybe do some research online. So your job as a fundraiser is to engage her, keep that relationship going, figure out what the next step is, and keep having the conversation. If there isn’t a gift, you need to continue cultivating, and if there is a gift, you need to consider stewarding. I mean, you know better than anyone that your previous donors are going to be stronger possibilities for the next gift. So continue that relationship regardless of whether you’re stewarding or cultivating.

Now, with your organization, I know it’s harder because you’re probably not in charge of your database and you probably don’t get to make all the rules. But this is something that you have to figure out a workaround, even if it’s a manual process. If your database is one that lists only the man or lists the man first, then when the man dies, do you lose the woman? And that’s a really critically important thing that you don’t want to happen. You’ve got to have that conversation with your data people so you can maintain the relationship with the surviving spouse.

Here’s another situation that I run into a lot. I understand how expensive paper and ink and postage is, but I know that marketing people love to drop people who haven’t given after a certain number of years or stop inviting if they no longer come to your event. But Russell James, who has done a lot of research with individuals who left estate gifts, has done research that indicates that in the last 10 to 12 years of an individual’s life, they’re probably not going to come to your events and they may not even write that annual check that they used to send.

But they do read your material and if you are in their estate plan, I don’t think you want to jeopardize that estate gift by being, as I guess Ben Franklin would say, pennywise and pound foolish. So do make an effort to keep them on the mailing list even if they’re no longer active with your organization.
And by all means, if you have a major donor club or a legacy society, when the spouse dies, continue inviting the other spouse. And for a while, maybe they won’t go, but reach out. That’s part of that cultivation and stewardship. Offer to pick them up so they have somebody to go with. So these are some things that you can do from an organizational standpoint.

Now, I’ve mentioned several resources here, and I obviously didn’t talk about all of them. Here’s the “How to Get Rich Selling Cars and Trucks to Women.” It’s an easy read. You can buy it on Amazon. It’s worth a read for a different way, I think, to think about stewardship and fundraising. I enjoyed “Lean In” when it came out because this is more about how women are currently interacting in the current world of work. I’ve started giving it to the young women in my family who graduate from college because they might as well learn from it at the beginning some things that they can do and not do. So I recommend that for reading.

The Margaret May Damen book is all about Boomer women and how they’ve changed, basically, philanthropy as well as the most recent version of material from Martha Taylor and Sondra Shaw-Hardy, “Transformative Power of Women in Philanthropy.” And then, go back and look not just at the 2016 study, but go back, they have them archived at the Indiana University Women’s Philanthropy Institute Online because there’s a little different focus every year, but the 2016 study was a lot about how four decades of women give differently. And it’s worth it if you have a large database or if you have people who are not just Boomers or Matures who are in your sightlines.

And I’m not a joke teller. I am a bad, bad joke teller, but I always try to at least leave people with a smile even though this one is a stereotype. Phyllis Diller was a comedienne who she disparaged men a lot, but she also made fun of women. And her statement was that “The reason women don’t play football is because 11 of them would never wear the same outfit in public.” That really concludes the formal part of my presentation, but I would be happy to take questions, and I’m going to turn it back to you, Steven, for that.
Steven:All right. Thanks so much, Judi. That was really awesome, really fascinating, and I’ve got some people here at Bloomerang who have been listening along, too, lots of heads nodding here in the room, so thank you for that really awesome stuff. Yeah, we do have time for a Q&A. We’ve probably got about, I’d say, 14 or 15 minutes for Q&A, so if you haven’t already asked a question, if you’ve been sitting on your hands, now is the time because obviously Judi is a wealth of knowledge here.
We’ve got a couple questions, Judi. I’ll just kind of roll right through them. You mentioned, you kind of laid out a scenario of perhaps a female spouse passing away, or a male spouse passing away before the female spouse does. Are there any tips for maybe the reverse of the situation? So let’s say the female passes away. Is there any way to maybe reach out to that surviving male partner and maybe get some stewardship happening there? Any tips, or have you ever done that for any of your organizations?
Judi:Sure. No, absolutely. I mean, you should steward males as well as females. So often it does happen that the surviving spouse is a female, but certainly we’ve all dealt with donors for whom the surviving spouse is a male. Absolutely, they need to be stewarded just as much as females do. They do seem to me to balance a little bit better socially. I’m thinking of some of the donors I’ve worked with. Women do seem to be a little bit more reluctant to go out when they’ve been widowed, whereas with men, they do seem more willing to engage in social activities, so you may not need to offer to pick them up and take them to something. Just encourage them and let them know that they’re welcome.
Steven:Makes sense. Here’s one from Rebecca. Rebecca is wondering about perhaps stewarding a female donor towards a major gift. Any tips for maybe stewardship activities, things you can do with a potential female donor that isn’t asking for a gift outright, but maybe sort of moving them towards a future major gift?
Judi:Sure. Women, I think, particularly like to be included, and maybe not so much as men. Men really like to be in the know. They sort of like to have the scoop, whereas I think women tend to be more about being included. But anything that you can do that will help that woman feel closer to your organization. If you know, for example, I use the university because there are so many opportunities at universities, but if she graduated from the biology department and there’s a new lab coming online, just offering to give her a tour of that lab, just that personal, one-on-one touch where the professor or whoever is moderating the lab could show her the equipment and how things might have changed since she’s an alum.
Or in arts organizations particularly, you can tell my background is in education and the arts, but in arts organizations, if you have a guest artist coming in, say, to perform with the symphony, having an opportunity to, if the artist is willing, to have coffee with the artist and just ask them what it’s like. All of those things that I think we just naturally do to steward people need to be tailored toward whatever that person appreciates, but I think women especially like the social interactions for stewardship.
Steven:Love it. Love those ideas. Here’s one from Molly, and as a Millennial myself, I was wondering this as I was listening along. Any recommendations or trends that you’ve seen regarding Millennial women, maybe introducing 20 and 30-year-old women to philanthropy? Should we just wait for them to become 50 and 60 year olds or can we do something?
Judi:No, let’s not do that, although I have to tell you that my, because I tend to work so much in planned giving and capital campaigns, I have not had a lot of gender distinction with Millennials, but I can tell you this about Millennials as a whole group without gender. Millennials are less likely to be kind of in love with the organization as much as they are to be about the mission. So let’s say if it’s an environmental group, they might give to the Trails Fund this year and the State Park Fund the next year because they want to get involved and get their hands dirty.
Millennials, also, in my limited experience with Millennials, are still resume building, and so they’re likely to take on a project for you that will be some kind of skill that can translate into their professional life. But again, I haven’t found distinctions that much between men and women, and I do have to say that because of where most of my professional life has been, I haven’t had that much experience with Millennials. With Gen Xers, I can tell you that a good way to get them involved with your organization is to let them bring their family members. They love to bring their kids to volunteer. So that’s a good thing for Gen Xers.
Steven:Oh, interesting. That makes sense. Here’s one from Celia. Celia is wondering about donors who perhaps we think are giving less than they can. So she’s got some loyal $100-a-year donors and seems to think that they have a greater capacity to give. Any advice for maybe upgrading those current loyal donors to a higher dollar amount?
Judi:Well, a lot of our woman donors have a much greater capacity to give, and I’m sure you’re right about that, Celia. Particularly if they’re responsible for their own well-being, if they’re single or widowed, women tend to be very conservative because they’re, more so than men, I believe, are afraid of running out of money. If you are comfortable having the conversation about a legacy gift, and this is true of your $100 donors and it’s true of your volunteers who say “I’m giving you my time because I can’t give you money,” that’s really a great opportunity to talk about a legacy gift.
And you don’t have to know a lot of fancy language. In fact, you’re better off even not saying legacy or bequest. Just ask them, if they’ve supported a certain project or program or certain research, have they ever thought about continuing their support through a legacy gift? Another way to ask that is if they’re giving you $100 a year, I’m trying to do some math in my head. It would probably only take about, oh, I can’t do the math in my head. I’m too dumb. Just say “If you gave us $10,000, we would have $400 or $500 every year forever and ever to apply toward research.”

So asking someone to endow their annual gift is another good strategy, but with $100 gift, you may need to help them see a bigger picture because I can’t do the math on something that small. But asking them to move the needle toward, if they’re concerned about not having enough money now, thinking about helping forever through their will is a good conversation.
Steven:So you’re kind of starting to touch on planned giving in a little bit of a way, there.
Judi:You can’t get away from that. I’m sorry.
Steven:I love it. No, I love it. That’s great advice. Endowing your annual gift. That is such a great phrase. I’d never heard that before. It makes total sense, though.
Judi:Well, if somebody gives you $1,000, it’s only going to be about $20,000 to endow an annual gift, and if they’re doing that in their will, it just makes a lot of sense.
Steven:Love it. Here’s one from Susan that dovetails nicely from that last question. “Any advice or differences in approach between a female Baby Boomer donor, one who is a retired, sort of high-earning professional, versus one who is maybe, like, a stay-at-home mom or a homemaker and didn’t really, wasn’t really in the workforce for much of their life. Anything you should do differently there, even though it’s the same age group?”
Judi:Well, I think just like everything else, we approach whatever their story is, their life story, with respect. If someone had the good fortune not to be in the workforce and was a stay-at-home parent or a stay-at-home homemaker, they probably have the same source of resources that someone who is a high-powered Baby Boomer executive. So respecting their life choices and their story and thinking how you can translate those experiences and values into your mission of your organization will pay dividends regardless of whether you’re talking to someone who runs her own company and built it from scratch or someone who ran the household while her husband built a business.
Steven:Very cool. We’ve probably got time for one more question. I’ve been kind of saving one towards the end. Judi, when you were talking about women’s giving circles, I think you piqued a lot of people’s interests. And we’ve had a few people ask, how can we get that started at our organization? What advice do you have for people who want to get that women’s giving circle going for the first time at their org?
Judi:Oh, that’s a great question, and I probably should have spent more time on that. First of all, you have to have a philosophical conversation within your organization because you may find that there are people whose blessing you would have to give in order to proceed, who really don’t want to segregate that giving. So once you’ve got the internal situation in hand and you have marching orders to go forward, then I think probably the best way to proceed is give women ownership of the process.
What a lot of organizations do, there are lots of models out there. Some of them start with $1,000 and they’ll set a number, “We want 100 women to give us $1,000.” And then the next decision that you have to make is do you put part of it away and start an endowment to grow or do you grant it all out? And then giving the women control over that decision.

If they’re granting part of it out, very often a women’s giving circle will choose to support women’s scholarships or women’s projects, especially there’s a lot of activity right now around STEM and STEAM, where there are not enough female engineers or female analysts or so on. So trying to encourage career choices for women in some of those traditionally male career paths are something that is often well received.

But you do have to get your internal ducks in a row. There’s nothing worse than going out, and while you do, you don’t want to start getting a group of women excited about it and then all of a sudden find that oops, the organization isn’t as excited as these women are. So get your permissions lined up and then pull your women together, pull together a key group, and show them some examples.

I mean, look at United Way. They have a women’s leadership circle. Look at . . . a lot of community foundations do. A lot of universities do.
So get examples and then let the women that you’re working with help you grow it.
Steven:Makes sense. Love it. Well, gee, we’re almost out of time and I want to be respectful for people, especially if you haven’t had lunch, and I don’t think you have, either, so don’t want to take up too much more time, but any last thoughts for folks, any last bit of advice before we call it a day here?
Judi:Well, I was just looking at the names on here. So many of you on the call are women, and we don’t want to make the mistake of thinking that everyone who’s female is just like us. We’re all individuals. If you are a male calling on a female donor, some of the things that hopefully you picked up today might help you a little bit in terms of having those conversations. So basically, if you’re just respectful, it’s just like any other donor conversation. If you’re respectful, if you listen, if you reply appropriately, if you do the follow-up that you said you were going to do in a timely fashion, you’ll earn lots of brownie points. And then don’t be frustrated if it takes her longer to make up her mind than it does her husband.
Steven:Judi, this is great. This may be one of the more interesting and informative and enlightening webinars we’ve even done, so thanks so much for being here and hanging out with us for about an hour or so.
Judi:My pleasure.
Steven:How can people get a hold of you or get in touch with you if they want to? Do you mind sharing maybe your contact information or anything like that?
Judi: I’m at the Arizona Community Foundation and my email address is jsmith@azfoundation.org, so jsmith@azfoundation.org.
Steven:Cool. Look her up if you’re in Arizona, and take her out to lunch to say thanks for this awesome webinar, because it really was awesome, so thanks, Judi.
Judi:All right.
Steven:And thanks to all of you for spending an hour of your day with us. I know it’s a busy time of year, so I always appreciate seeing you all. We’ve got lots of resources available on our website. As always, you can check those out. Our webinar schedule is really heating up. We’ve got some really interesting sessions planned for March and April.
Our next one is March 9, and Tammy Zonker is our guest. And she is going to share a case study of a fundraising campaign that she ran up in Detroit, and there’s going to be a lot of takeaways. I saw her present this at a live conference and I just had to invite her onto the webinar series because it’s such awesome content. So be sure to register for that one two weeks from today, going to be a really great presentation.

There are lots of other sessions on our website that you can register for. If you see a topic there that is interesting to you, we’d love to see you again on another Thursday webinar. So thanks again, look for an email from me with the slides and the recording. I’ll get that out to you this afternoon, and hopefully we’ll see you again. So have a great rest of your Thursday and a great weekend.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.