Women in Philanthropy

Women in Philanthropy

As we kick off Women’s History Month, I would like to take some time to discuss one of my favorite topics – women in philanthropy.

Women have been philanthropists since the beginning of time – giving of their time, talent, and treasure to those in need and to those helping society address its most difficult and pressing issues. In the United States, the history of female philanthropists dates back to 1643 when Ann Radcliffe Moulson donated funding for the first scholarship fund at Harvard University. Through their philanthropic efforts women alleviated poverty, promoted religion, increased education, fought against slavery, influenced public policy, and secured the right to vote.

Fast forward to 1991 when two female fundraisers, Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, founded what is now the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI), part of Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. These women recognized the need to dive-in to two issues: the difference in the way women approach giving and how that is an important factor in fundraising, specifically in cultivating women donors. The WPI and a myriad of other institutions and organizations have conducted studies and released reports on women’s impact on philanthropy in recent years.

Here’s what we know: Women control more than half of the wealth in the United States. We are more likely to give to charity and to give higher amounts than men. We are more emotionally invested in our causes, tend to want to donate time as well as money, are more driven by impact, and prefer to plan out our giving.

Given these facts, I’d like to address two trends in philanthropy that are being driven by women.

The growth in collective giving

The concept behind collective giving is that pooled giving has a greater impact on the community. It is also a way to democratize philanthropy by giving all women a voice in the grantmaking process. The number of giving circles in the US tripled between 2007 and 2017, with women making up the majority of members. One such local organization is The Philanthropy Connection (TPC). TPC’s mission is to inspire, teach, and enable women to engage in collective philanthropy in order to provide grants to charitable organizations that improve the quality of life for low-resource individuals and families living in Massachusetts. What makes TPC unique is its effort to foster the next generation of women philanthropists. In fact, it has a Fellowship program for 21-35 year-olds, which provides sponsored membership to young women who want to help change the face of philanthropy in Boston and contribute to and learn from TPC’s Give.Receive.Learn model of collective giving. Hemenway & Barnes is a sponsor of TPC’s Young Philanthropist Initiative (YPI), and I have served as co-chair of the YPI since 2016.

Creating a legacy of giving

At Hemenway & Barnes LLP, many women with whom we work are interested in leaving a legacy for their families, focusing on how to instill philanthropic values in their children and grandchildren at an early age. We are in the midst of the largest transfer of wealth in U.S. history, a large portion of which will be allocated for charitable purposes. The next generation will have unprecedented financial resources and will transform philanthropy – choosing to give now rather than wait to give while they accumulate wealth. Women see this as an opportunity to help influence and shape how their children and grandchildren approach philanthropy. Families might choose to create an advisory board to engage and educate the next generation before they are formally invited to be Trustees or board members. Others might choose to set up Donor Advised Funds for each member of the next generation. Whatever path they take to creating a legacy for the families, women are influencing how their households, and in some cases extended family, are thinking about giving.

We hope you will join us in helping women make their mark in philanthropy.

Additional Resources

About the Author

Jessica CoakleyJessica Coakley is a Philanthropy Associate at Hemenway & Barnes. She works with individuals, families, charitable trusts and foundations to provide a range of philanthropic and client services. Jesse advises or manages a number of New England-based family foundations that support nonprofits working in education, youth development, workforce development, human services and the arts. She is also a board member of The Philanthropy Connection.

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Making Room for the Unexpected in your Charitable Giving

Now that the holidays are behind us, we have all turned our attention to 2019. For some, this includes acting on New Year’s Resolutions. For others, it’s a time to assess what worked best in 2018 and what to improve in 2019. These decisions are playing out against a backdrop of uncertainty – in the financial markets, in the operation of the federal government, and in the impact of the changes in federal tax law. The uncertainty can make setting a charitable giving budget challenging.

We’ve written here before about strategies to maximize your charitable giving in light of the higher threshold for the standard deduction that a taxpayer can deduct from their income each year if they choose not to itemize. What are other ways to manage through the uncertainty of the new year?

Plan for the unexpected:

Increasingly, donors are setting aside a portion of their charitable giving budget each year for disasters or emergencies. In recent years, these have included natural disasters like the devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean or the wildfires in California. In early 2019, some donors used these charitable dollars to aid government workers impacted by the shutdown of the federal government. Whatever the issue, planning for these emergency needs, even if they represent a relatively small portion of your giving budget, can help donors feel like they don’t have to reduce their giving in one area that is important to them to be responsive as new needs emerge. It can help address immediate need while not pulling donors off their anticipated giving course. Read more about disaster giving here: How to Help Neighbors and Communities in Time of a Natural Disaster.

Consider the full spectrum of generosity:

As we all know, generosity goes far beyond your charitable giving. You may be generous with your time, volunteering on a nonprofit board, serving in a volunteer capacity in local government, or with your children’s school. You may provide support for students who are in need of financial or other types of support to get an education or launch their careers. You may be launching a business or purchasing real estate to help further a social or community need. All of these decisions can help you calibrate your total generosity index. It can also help guide your choice of philanthropic vehicle, ranging from direct giving to more deliberate structures like donor advised funds, charitable trusts, foundations, or LLCs. Read more about How to Allocate Your Charitable Giving.

Let your passion lead you:

You can find joy in more than cleaning out your closets. What if you took all the buzz around Marie Kondo’s approach to organizing your life and applied it to your giving? What in your giving “sparks joy”? Many donors choose to reserve a portion of their giving budget each year for projects, issues, or organizations that spark their interest and their curiosity. In this case, uncertainty can lead to fulfillment and not distress.

We hope that the new year brings you fulfillment, a renewed sense of purpose, and joy.

Additional Resources:

About the Author:

Gioia PeruginiGioia Perugini is Associate Director, Family Office and Philanthropy Services at Hemenway & Barnes. She works with individuals, families, advisors, charitable trusts and foundations to provide a range of philanthropic and client services. Read Gioia’s full biography.


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Are you ready for Giving Tuesday? Kicking Off Year-End Giving

As the leaves finish falling from the trees here in New England, and coffee #GivingTuesdaycups of green, red, and blue appear alongside cranberry sauce and stuffing, we are turning our sights to year-end giving and a recurring theme of gratitude. Many donors have been working diligently on their giving lists all year, making gifts of various sizes and complexities. Others use the holiday time to come together with family and focus on what gifts they plan to make or what service activities they would like to do together. As in the past, we share a few year-end giving ideas that can make the holiday time more meaningful, and spread the season of giving throughout the year.

The #GivingTuesday Movement

Giving Tuesday is being celebrated this year on November 27, 2018, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. Now in its seventh year, this “global giving movement” was founded by the 92nd Street Y in New York as a way to focus on giving during the days following Thanksgiving that had been more typically known for in-store and online shopping. It has evolved into a significant online global social movement. In 2017, #GivingTuesday resulted in 2.5 million online gifts which raised $300 million, along with over 2 billion social media impressions for the field of philanthropy and for participating organizations.

Some may want to share #MyGivingStory2018 this year and join this movement. Others may want to share in the spirit by drawing inspiration from the stories of others.

Impact of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act

Much has been written on the potential impact of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 on charitable giving. While the full picture might not be known until the data on 2018 tax returns emerges, some studies published since the new law was enacted predict an overall drop in 2018 charitable giving of as much as $22 billion (a 5% drop from 2017 levels). Some reports from the first two quarters of 2018 appear to show a significant drop in charitable giving as compared to 2017. Opinions differ on whether changes in legal tax incentives are truly driving, or will drive, changes in charitable giving patterns, and on whether there will be a significant reduction in charitable giving for the year overall. For example, 2017 was a record year for charitable giving, in part because many tax advisors urged donors to make large charitable gifts at the end of 2017, at least in part to offset the higher 2017 tax rates. A corresponding drop in charitable giving in early 2018 might be a natural consequence of these efforts. Other potential donors may be temporarily holding off on giving in anticipation of “bunching” contributions in future years, or may otherwise be delaying the timing of their gifts, even if they intend to maintain past levels of giving in the aggregate.

My colleague Brad Bedingfield writes in great detail here about these issues, and it’s worth a read as you consider your year-end planning.

Disaster Giving

For many donors, Disaster Giving has become a regular part of their annual giving. From wildfires in California to other natural disasters locally and globally, planning for the unanticipated is now part of the picture. We often turn to strong local partners – including community foundations and pooled giving funds – when disaster strikes. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is a go-to resource that compiles and vets charities working to provide immediate and long-term disaster relief.

Read more about disaster giving here: How to Help Neighbors and Communities in Time of a Natural Disaster.

Community Service

Serving together: Many individuals and families feel compelled to volunteerism, particularly at this time of year. Coming together in service to give back to those in need can help the next generation feel connected to the more abstract concept of “philanthropy” in a very tangible way. Volunteering at a local soup kitchen, organizing a food drive, or filling a family’s holiday gift wish list are simple activities where those of all ages can make an immediate impact. That can then spark conversations about important community issues, particularly with younger family members.

Implementing Your Giving Plan

We hope this time of year brings you happiness and a feeling of being connected to your community and issues you care about, whether local, national or global and wishing you peace and joy throughout the year. Giving can take many shapes and forms, and we hope this inspires you to do more during the holidays and beyond.

About the Author

Gioia PeruginiGioia Perugini is Associate Director, Family Office and Philanthropy Services at Hemenway & Barnes. She works with individuals, families, advisors, charitable trusts and foundations to provide a range of philanthropic and client services. Read Gioia’s full biography.

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