Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Battle Of The Sexes (who gives more?)

Good fundraisers typically stick with what works in a fund raising campaign choosing not to ask to many questions about why it works. While intuitively, many fundraisers know that women tend to make more donations in a given campaign or series of campaigns and perhaps if the fundraiser is intuitive enough, that men who give, generally tend to give higher amounts overall.

It’s not always easy to understand why this is so, and therefore for a fundraiser to take full advantage of this information.

Many studies have been done on philanthropy; fewer have been done on telephone fund raising, however the research on this subject is not insignificant. Two studies that we will highlight here at onfundraising are one commissioned by the Share Group Inc on fund raising and direct mail campaigns, and the other is “The Effects of Race, Gender, and Marital Status on Giving and Volunteering in Indiana” as published in the Nonprofit and voluntary Sector Quartley, in 2006 while report focuses on Indiana, much of the reporting is general in nature and therefore suitable for this post. The study’s main purpose was to examine whether factors like race, age, education or marital status make a difference to philanthropy of volunteering.

Both studies are available on line, and are linked to at the bottom of this article.

In 2006, Share Group. Inc, of Massachusetts participated in a comprehensive study on donor characteristics .Among other things this study quantifies some of the major difference between male and female donors; something that many people knew intuitively but lacked the hard data to validate. The study also measured donor contributions by age, and gave some general insights into what age group is the most supportive of charitable organizations.

According to the study, when contacted, women are more likely to support a charity campaign than men.

This data corresponds with past studies on philanthropic giving, but is limited to telephone fund raising The data indicates the women generally are more likely to donate to fund raising efforts and are also more likely to leave bequests to charitable organizations. The research indicates that woman as a whole are more likely to donate than men are.

However, the study found that based on the statistical evidence, men who do give to a campaign are likely to make larger contributions than female donors. This information as well is corroborated by independent research.

The study observes that the optimal donor age is fifty years old. Contributions tend to dwindle as donors reach retirement age. Donors ages sixty five to seventy five were most receptive to and renewal of support campaigns.

Interestingly for fund raisers, the study found that female callers secure pledges less often than male callers, but the average size of the pledges female fundraisers secure is larger than their male counterparts.

In general, women according to the research in both studies, are more likely give a larger contribution than they have previously given (upgrade). Men who could be convinced to upgrade generally upgraded at higher percentage versus female donors.

Breaking down the data further showed that when it comes to the actual giving of money, single women give twice as much as single men. These results are consistent with what has been published in the past. Furthermore, single women are more likely than men to give to a variety of charities and philanthropic efforts. A not so surprising finding was that married men also were 2-3 times more likely to give as much as single men or single women. However, the amount of money donated by single men was found to be far greater than that of married couples.

When the race factor is assessed for donation, there is little or no difference. Whites, Blacks and other minorities are no more or less likely to give relative to each other. The one obvious finding is that donations are significantly increased when the donor is educated, earns a higher income, and is older. This finding was again observed in all ethnic groups.

The Indiana study also looked at another aspect of giving-volunteering. The results are not much different to the philanthropic study. Again, single females are more likely to volunteer their time when compared to single men. Infact single females are more likely to volunteer for many more hours (>146 per year) than single men. The one surprising finding is that there is no difference in volunteering between married couples and single individuals when it comes to volunteering. It would be expected that married couples would have less time due to their familial obligations but this is not so.

Race did not reveal any differences in volunteering- Blacks, Whites and other minorities were just as likely to volunteer.

Volunteering was found to decrease when the levels of income and education were low. In fact, there was a sharp drop in volunteering levels for those with less than a high school education relative to the general population, and this was seen across all age groups.

However, increased income did not correlate with the numbers of hours volunteered. Individuals with low income were just as likely to volunteer for longer durations of time and vice versa.

The one curious observation from the study is that when individuals were asked if they had volunteered in the past, women were more likely to recall this act. Minorities could not recall if they had volunteered. Why someone can’t remember a dignified act like volunteering is a mystery- perhaps an error in how the questionnaire was set up or comprehension difficulty. The writers of the Indiana study surmised that often minorities do volunteer work without formally characterizing it as such.

Most of the results of these studies are also supported by many previous national surveys which have also found that education and higher income are the strongest and most consistent predictors of philanthropic activity.

Why single women volunteer more is not fully understood but it is speculated that because single women have less social and financial means, they compensate this by giving more of their time as volunteers while at the same time establishing their social networks.

These studies provide some insight into differences in donors by sex, marital status, race and income. Both men and women are motivated to give to charity for different reasons therefore when communicating with donors, fundraisers are advised to take this into effect and structure their solicitations accordingly.

We can take from these studies the fact that most Americans do give to charity in one way or another. Fund raisers can best serve the causes they work for buy understanding the broad characteristics of donors and structuring their donation requests accordingly.

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