Orr Associates, Inc.
Gender Matters - How Women are Changing Philanthropy

 By: Kathleen Loehr , Senior Consultant, Orr Associates, Inc. and author of “Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy”

I’ve been in the philanthropic sector for 35 years as a female donor, fundraiser, and nonprofit leader. In that time, I’ve seen women’s power and earnings grow and the philanthropic sector repeatedly fail to take full advantage of this new reality.

The for-profit world has begun to adapt to the rise of women’s influence and economic clout – in their strategy, training, conversations and advertising. They know their bottom line depends on following the money and the decision-makers of today: women. In contrast, the clear majority of nonprofits and universities still use fundraising practices that either turn off women or gain minimal support from them. So much more is possible.

What does the for-profit world know that nonprofits don’t?
Women Are Driving Change in Business, the Workplace, and the Home
Women are driving an economic shift. They are the majority in undergraduate settings. With increased education comes increased earnings. They hold 51 percent of managerial and professional positions in the US workforce. They are making 83 percent of household consumer decisions for themselves and their families.

The two biggest indicators for philanthropic intent are education and earnings. Looking at the economic shi ft above, it stands to reason that women now have the potential for increased and influential roles in philanthropy. 

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University has existed in various forms for more than 25 years. WPI provides in-depth research around the differing philanthropic motivations and giving patterns of men and women. WPI Studies have found that married and single women are more likely to give than men in similar situations. Older women are more likely to give to charity than men of the same age. Women’s patterns of giving are broader than men’s – they tend to spread out their giving. These and dozens of other findings are on  WPI's website.

The economic shifts, the greater influence of women, and the well-researched facts of how women give make it imperative to connect in meaningful ways with the women who are supporting our missions.
What is the Potential of Women Donors?
When we take action to show that gender matters, and adapt our strategies and behaviors to more deeply resonate with half of our donor population, we’ll stop losing the significant funding, experience, leadership, innovation and connections that women bring. We must not ignore:
  • U.S. women own more than $14 trillion in assets. A 1% growth in women’s charitable contributions would increase annual giving in this country by 5%.
  • With this infusion, so much more is possible to address the social issues we face.
  • With more women leaders helping us innovate and make new connections, transformative shifts will occur for our missions and communities.

As women increasingly stand up, speak out, govern, lead and take action across the political spectrum, it is time for nonprofits to focus on women as donors. Our communities and missions will benefit.

To help accelerate women’s philanthropy, Kathleen has written Gender Matters: A Guide to Growing Women’s Philanthropy . This book translates research on how women give into practical action for fundraisers.

The time is now for every nonprofit and university to learn about the research and then adapt their fundraising to acknowledge women’s preferences and raise more money for today and tomorrow’s challenges.

OAI is exploring the possibility of hosting a Round table for nonprofit leaders. This will be a forum to share experiences and compare notes on how women give and why. To learn more about this event, please send your details to using the subject line “Women’s Philanthropy Roundtable”.

Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center
Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center  is a not-for-profit, post-acute medical center that is nationally recognized as a leader in the care of technology-dependent and medically complex children. With 30 years of service and 169 children under its care, the Pediatric Center is the largest provider in the country for this unique population. The children who live at the Pediatric Center receive short-term interventions, as well as long-term care where the Pediatric Center becomes “home.” 

OAI is proud to partner with Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center to assist with its fundraising efforts. We are excited for the opportunity to help to better equip the Pediatric Center with resources to continue to provide the medical attention and compassionate care to the children that call the center home.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Greater Washington, DC
Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Greater Washington, DC (RMHCDC) keeps families with sick kids near the care and resources they need to thrive. RMHCDC gives families with sick kids the best medicine – each other. RMHCDC operates two Ronald McDonald Houses, one in Washington, DC and one in Northern Virginia, and operates two mobile care units and family rooms at Children’s National Medical Center and Inova Children’s Hospital.
OAI is proud to partner with RMHCDC as it plans to meet the future needs of the communities it serves and considers considerable expansion of its footprint in Northern Virginia.

New Team Members
In July, Becca Bennett joined the OAI team in the role of Director. Becca has over nine years of nonprofit development experience and offers clients her expertise on board development and support projects, major gifts fundraising, annual campaigns, and fundraising events.

Becca lives in Georgetown with her husband, Patrick. In her spare time, she enjoys group exercise like spinning and boxing, barbecuing with her family and friends, and root-root-rooting for her home team, the Green Bay Packers.
Team Member Updates
In recognition of their hard work and dedication, congratulations to the following team members for their recent promotions and title changes:
Responding to the increasingly complex challenges nonprofit leaders face, OAI has developed a transformational approach to fundraising and strategy consulting. Our teams of experienced professionals seamlessly embed themselves with nonprofits to fundraise, to recruit and improve board leadership, to build consensus and direction through new strategies, and to provide executive, fundraising, and financial leadership. With offices in Washington, DC and New York City, OAI has partnered in our clients' success for more than 25 years, helping more than 600 nonprofits raise hundreds of millions of dollars for their causes. 
See how we can help you today at .