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It’s women’s history month; let’s continue to re-write history for women in our sector!

This blog post was originally published by Giving Tree Associates.

My colleagues know that my favorite quote is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Gandhi). I try to abide by this as my life’s mission and through my work. When thinking about this quote in reference to group change and how to change the world, to me the answer is quite simple – one woman at a time.

So why then, I must ask, does the gender gap in fundraising salaries and in fundraising leadership persist? On International Women’s Day last year, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) came out with a study noting that gender accounts for a 10% salary difference between male and female fundraisers, even though women are the primary fundraising employees. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that female CEOs at nonprofits with budgets between $2.5 and $5 million are paid 23% less than males in the same position. Part of the problem attributed to this gender pay gap is the higher percentage of males in fundraising leadership (aka, the higher paying jobs). In 2018, The Nonprofit Times found that of U.S. nonprofits with annual budgets of at least $25 million, just 21% had a female CEO. According to Penelope Burk (President of Cygnus Research), though women run the fundraising world (80% to be exact!) four out of five fundraisers in senior leadership positions are men. Think about that. This isn’t an issue of the field lacking women, as we so often see in other sectors. This is an issue of gender inequality.

And yet, in philanthropic giving, women are (thankfully!) on the rise. Or perhaps, they are finally getting the attention they deserve and are looked at as instrumental when a solicitor is making an ask. In high-net-worth households, 84% of women are the primary or joint decision makers about investments, according to the “Women and Million Dollar Giving: Current Landscape and Trends to Watch” report. So yes, not only do WE (women) absolutely matter in philanthropy as decision makers, but because we are also 43% of the nation’s top wealth holders (individuals with assets of $1.5M+). In sum, women’s wealth is valued at $4.6 trillion [Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors] (can I get a heck yea?!). As a whole, women control more than half of private wealth in the U.S. More than half! And, when looking to the future, “the percentage of women wielding wealth is only going to rise. Many women will inherit twice—from their parents and from their spouses or partners. Women will inherit 70% of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth that is expected to change hands over the next 40 years.” [Forbes]

If you’re a fundraiser at an organization with primarily male donors who thinks this does not apply to you, think again. Are men the ones sitting around the table on your board? If so, I implore you to take a new approach and find a way to have women sitting at that same table. As a perk, you’re likely to increase your incoming philanthropic support if you do a good job of facilitating this necessary change with cultivation intertwined. Or better yet, when you’re asking a man married to a woman for a gift, bring his wife into the conversation and discuss her philanthropic interests too. Again, remember that women often drive philanthropic decision making for families and must have a seat at the table when fundraisers make solicitations.

Want to be a part of the change within the fundraising sector? Do you provide a flexible workplace for women who are also the primary caregiver in their household (or in general, because everyone working tirelessly to fundraise on behalf of your mission is deserving of this)? Do you make sure leadership positions are not only accessible for your rising women, but also attractive? Is professional development part of your recruitment and retention model? I urge you to ponder these questions. Let’s close the gender gap!

Interested in learning more about how Giving Tree can help you retain your women in leadership? Do you want to identify women fundraising leaders to hire? Curious to learn how to diversify your board? Contact Jamie Klobuchar to inquire about nonprofit executive search and coaching, board training and development, hiring a fundraising consultant and other educational opportunities.

What commitments will you make to women’s equity this month? What are your recommendations for closing the gender gap for women in leadership in fundraising?

Happy Women’s History Month!