Renewed by some conference learning courtesy of CPRA, Apra’s Colorado chapter, I’m writing from Fort Collins, Colorado, where I had the joy and pleasure of presenting “A Woman’s Place is in Your Prospect Portfolio.” Here, I outlined a business case and moral imperative for identifying, researching, engaging and stewarding women donors. Specifically, I offered suggestions for fund development organizations to start – or carry on confidently – on the wonderful journey of advancing female philanthropy with practical data techniques and engagement strategies.
In the presentation, I drew from some survey data that was informally and unscientifically collected, collated and analyzed by yours truly. Here are some highlights about what you shared with me.
Missing Women’s Report
For prospect development and fundraising professionals, prioritizing or at least including her in prospect research profiles and prospect portfolios formed a prominent theme:
“Put her information first in a profile, and his in the spouse section.”
“Get over the discomfort of estimating non-visible wealth! Present the household wealth and philanthropic picture, not the single biggest gift.”
“Provide balanced information on a couple. Ensure that women (mothers, daughters, and granddaughters) are included in research. Also, provide some insight into maternal lineage.”
“Strategy should include HER interests and passions. Do not make assumptions on how previous donations were decided.”
Reach Out to Her
I also asked how female fundraisers in particular, can better engage women donors in our respective missions and causes. You shared some practical approaches like:
“It may be beneficial to have two fundraisers at a meeting so a quieter spouse can be drawn out in conversation.”
“Engage women on a one-to-one basis, focus on *her* unique reason for giving; empower her vision for a better world, and honour her decisions.”
“Treat them like individuals, not stereotypical “pink” females; create more social opportunities; advocate for volunteer leadership opportunities.”
Where We Women At?
The notion or concept of invisibility permeated through cautionary (and blunt) statements about marketing / communication and stewardship of women donors:
“Think very carefully before giving an honourary degree to half of a power couple. This could be very insulting to a woman if she doesn’t receive the same recognition.”
“I am very sensitive to the images that we use in fundraising materials; recognize that we use a lot of unbearably paternalistic poses of masculine elder and eager student.”
“Seriously stop it with the old white dudes holding giant cheques.”
Many survey respondents are not optimistic that the fundraising and philanthropic communities will make steady strides soon, pointing to systemic issues in gender parity:
“It looks like a few women are going to have to set big examples to get noticed. Right now major gifts are usually credited to a couple or a family even if a woman prompted it.”
“Unfortunately, much needs to be done to educate fundraisers that they need to do a better job of reaching out to all prospective donors, regardless of gender. I’m not optimistic that there will be major advances in women’s philanthropy anytime soon.”
“Advancing women’s philanthropy” is closely tied to “advancing women” — this issue is part of a much bigger problem of how we view and treat women, and women of different backgrounds, races, gender identities, etc.”
Your care and commitment to this topic shone through, dear survey respondents, so thank you so much for participating!
I’m heartened by the thoughtful questions and comments CPRA attendees shared with me about women’s philanthropy at last week’s conference. It’s clear many are already thinking about how to unravel conventional data practices that have literally hidden women’s contributions to their respective organizations. I suggested a full and thorough data audit using a gender lens, covering wide aspects of fund development operations – donations processing, donor communication rules, formal research, prospect portfolios, and stewardship practices. It takes more work, but it’s clearly worth understanding women’s contributions to your organization; a critical piece in better understanding our donor bases of strong support.
As always, would you please care to comment on this post? Our community is stronger with information exchange and dialogue. THANK YOU!